Last Wednesday, the European Parliament approved some revised rules. These are meant to improve truck drivers' working conditions. This should also put an end to the disruption of road transportation competition. That means, among other things, that drivers may longer spend the compulsory week's rest in their cabs. Cabotage will be restricted too.
Marc Vreugdenhil of the Dutch company, C. Vreugdenhil International Transport, isn't concerned. "Our drivers never slept in their cabins anyway. This change is mainly meant to limit unfair competition from Eastern Bloc countries. Those companies want their employees to spend the night in their vehicles under these conditions. We certainly don't treat our drivers like that."
Marc also sees few problems for Vreugdenhil's current operations concerning cabotage being curtailed. Cabotage means a transport company, based in EU country A, does trips within the borders of EU country B. These kinds of trips are now limited to three a week. After that, no more trips may be taken in that country for, at most, four days. "We're an international air-conditioned transport player in France and Scandinavia."
"But, it's not our business model to drive a lot of cabotages there now. Say we have Dutch fruit and vegetable destined for Perpignan (in France). And, on the way back, we can make a trip from, for example, Perpignan to Lille. We'll do it because else we'll have to drive back empty. These regulations are primarily intended to discourage transport companies that have made this their model".
Another transporter from the sector says he must first see if it will all work. "Rules are nice, but they have to be enforced." Many other transporters in the Dutch fruit and vegetable sector have said the new regulations don't affect them. They already stick to the rules.