I have welcomed a comprehensive reform package for transport workers which has been approved by the European Parliament. They include better working conditions for drivers, including clarifications on minimum wage and rest.
The amendments approved by the Transport Committee means that the same remuneration rules apply to a truck driver delivering goods in another Member State after a cross-border delivery as to drivers in the host country.
Transport Committee MEPs also proposed changes to ensure better rest conditions for drivers. For example, companies will have to organise their timetables so that, once every three weeks, drivers are able to return home or to another location of their choosing for a weekly rest. Another measure approved is having well-equipped dedicated parking places for truck drivers.
By voting to pass these measures it will mean that transport workers will have better, modernised working conditions.
I proposed an amendment to include an exception for the strict application of driving and rest time rules for hauliers when using a ferry of twelve hours or more. This was supported by the Committee.
This is a particularly important for Ireland, as aside from the UK land bridge, many goods are moved via ferry direct to France, or Zeebrugge or on the Cork to Santander route. Having a practical application of EU rules on these services means that SMEs and other indigenous Irish exporting business can reliably get their goods to market in a timely manner and that our haulage companies can reliably deliver these services.
This is a good result for Ireland, given its geographic location on the periphery of the EU and this proposal duly takes into account those who spend a significant portion of a calendar month in another country. 80% of Irish road freight to and from Europe that travels through the UK and this proposal means that these hauliers will not face undue and costly administrative burdens simply because they transit two, three or sometimes four countries on the way to their destination.
The next step is negotiating with the Council and commission to agree a final approach.