New EU cabotage regulations are not watertight

October 19, 2009

[B]New EU cabotage regulations are not watertight[/B]

A new draft EC regulation covering common rules on access to the road haulage market in Europe are far from watertight, according to Netherlands law firm AKD Prinsen Van Wijmen.

Jos van der Meché, a partner with the firm’s shipping, trade and insurance team, explains, “The new regulation, which is expected to come into force early in 2010, includes a provision which seeks to more clearly define the frequency of cabotage operations, and the period in which they can be performed, by specifying that individual drivers are allowed to undertake three cabotage operations within the space of seven days. The intention is to provide greater legal certainty. But it would seem that the regulations are far from watertight in some respects.

“There would appear to be no legal obstacle, for example, to a carrier performing three transports in as short a space of time as legally and safely possible, leaving a member state and returning within the same seven-day period with a further shipment, and effectively embarking on a fresh series of transports. And, since the stipulation of three transports in seven days applies only to one vehicle, there would seem to be nothing to prevent the driver returning in under a week with a different vehicle. Develpoments in the new year will doubtles be followed with great interest.”

The European Commission, meanwhile, has made it clear that the new rules will not prevent member states from granting hauliers established in another member state additional access to their domestic road haulage markets in accordance with their own, national legislation. In the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, unlimited cabotage will still be possible by virtue of the Benelux Treaty, so that hauliers in Holland, for example, can perform as much cabotage as they choose in Belgium and Luxembourg, and vice-versa. The new EC regulations will have no impact on this arrangement.

The existing rules on European cabotage were introduced, among other reasons, to liberalise the European transport market. The ultimate objective is that, as of 1 January 2012, cabotage should be allowed in all 27 member states.

Notes to editors
AKD’s transport law division provides a full range of legal services to the maritime and transport industry. AKD Prinsen Van Wijmen is a full-service firm with over 250 lawyers. One of the largest law firms in the Netherlands, it has offices in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Eindhoven, Breda, and Brussels. AKD is in the top tier of Legal 500’s Netherlands shipping, aviation and transport section.