The European Commission hosted a high level hearing on the impact of the economic crisis on road transport. The IRU welcomes this meeting and the recently published analysis from the Commission of how severely the recession has hit road transport companies. It is now obvious that a contracting economy, a corresponding collapse in transport demand, the freezing of credit and increased operating costs have led to an unprecedented wave of bankruptcies and job losses that threaten not only the future of the sector, but also efficient EU goods distribution and mobility.
According to Michael Nielsen, IRU General Delegate to the EU, “the time for analysis and debate has passed. The IRU has made a number of proposals to the European Institutions and national governments to alleviate its impact. What we need now is a coordinated recovery plan from the Commission and concrete measures from Member States to help solve the crisis in road transport”.
This message and a six point recovery action plan were outlined by IRU Vice President and President of the IRU Goods Transport Council, Mr Pere Padrosa, at the high level Commission meeting. He said: “We all need a road transport recovery plan, not only those with jobs and interests in the sector, but also the rest of the economy which above all needs our services to get their businesses and the economy moving again”. Mr Padrosa proposed a six-point recovery plan and insisted that the EU and National authorities immediately take steps to:
– Reduce costs by not creating any new taxes and environmental charges such as the proposed third Eurovignette Directive and by reducing current charges and fuel taxes.
– Restore credit by encouraging financial institutions to re-open credit options to road transport companies and allow moratoriums on debt.
– Revise insolvency rules to allow a reduction of capacity instead of company liquidation.
– Protect the free movement of goods and provision of services within the EU’s internal market and facilitate trade and road transport with third countries through Annex 8 of the UN Convention on the harmonisation of frontier controls of goods, by having authorities implement the IRU’s TIR Electronic Pre-declaration (EPD) and Border Waiting Times Observatory (BWTO) modern IT facilitation tools.
– Protect workers by ensuring that all EU governments adopt “economic unemployment” schemes that enable skilled labour to be put on “inactive” status rather that lose their jobs.
– Reinvest in road infrastructure to reduce unnecessary costs and give financial incentives to companies to invest in new, safe and clean vehicle technologies.
Mr Padrosa concluded: “the sector faces unprecedented economic challenges which it is struggling to overcome. Road transport must be central to the global economic recovery plan since any penalty on road transport will be a penalty on economic recovery and every facilitation of road transport will stimulate a faster economic recovery. Banks have received huge financial assistance because they are considered vital to the economy. But if banks cease to exist, trade will continue. If road transport was to cease to exist trade and the economy would come to a grinding halt!