The Commission has published a report on the penalties for serious infringements against the social rules in road transport provided for in the legislation of the Member States, as required by Article 10 of Directive 2006/22/EC on minimum conditions for the implementation of social legislation relating to road transport activities.
The infringements concern two regulations.
Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 on the harmonisation of certain social legislation relating to road transport contains very precise rules on the maximum driving times and the minimum rest periods and breaks for drivers engaged in professional transport.
Regulation (EEC) No 3821/85 on recording equipment in road transport concerns the instalment and use of the tachograph.
Penalties for infringements
Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 requires Member States to lay down rules on penalties applicable to infringements of both Regulations. The penalties have to be effective, proportionate, dissuasive and non-discriminatory.
Recital 26 of the Regulation states in addition that the possibility of immobilising the vehicle where serious infringements are detected should also be included within the common range of measures open to member states.
However, there is no definition in the Regulation of what should be considered a serious infringement.
Directive 2006/22/EC originally contained an Annex III with a non-exhaustive list of what is to be regarded as an infringement. This Annex III has recently been replaced by a new Annex by way of Commission Directive 2009/5/EC. This new Annex III contains guidelines on the categorisation of infringements against the two Regulations.
The Commission’s analysis reaches the conclusion that the penalties for serious infringements vary too much between the EU member states (page 7 and 8):
The rules on penalties applicable to serious infringements of the social legislation vary appreciably between Member States as regards the types of penalties, the level of fines and the categorisation of infringements.
While all Member States use fines as a penalty, not all of them provide for the immobilization of vehicles or imprisonment, for example. In some Member States, withdrawal of a driver’s driving licence or driver card is possible.
When looking at how the Member States grade the different types or levels of infringements, the situation becomes even more complex. The amounts of the fines vary significantly between Member States, in extreme cases by as much as 1:10. These differences can only be partly explained by the socio-economic differences that make the same fine proportionate and dissuasive in one country but not necessarily in another.
While for infringements against the driving times and rest periods, it is rather clear which infringements has to be considered to be more serious than another, the categorisation of infringements varies considerably between Member States for infringements against Regulation (EEC) No 3821/85. Some infringements are seen as serious infringements in one country, but not necessarily in another.
Moreover, the penalties applied for infringement of the rules of Regulation (EEC) No 3821/85 do not correspond in many Member States with the Community guidelines on the categorisation of infringements as contained in Commission Directive 2009/5/EC amending Annex III to Directive 2006/22/EC.
For drivers and undertakings engaged in international transport, it is therefore very difficult to receive a clear message concerning the gravity of possible infringements when they do not comply with certain provisions of Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 and Regulation (EEC) No 3821/85, as the penalties they risk in the different Member States give contradictory feedback.
The Commission considers this situation resulting of the decisions of the legislators to be unsatisfactory in terms of equal conditions for drivers and undertakings. The new Annex to Directive 2006/22/EC, introduced by Commission Directive 2009/5/EC, provides a basis for a common understanding of what should be considered as serious infringement and what not.
Member States are encouraged to take the necessary steps to provide for more harmonised application of the social rules in road transport and thus to improve observance of the social rules in road transport.
The Commission will continue to work on this issue, in particular by supporting dialogue between Member States concerning national interpretation and application of the social rules in road transport through the Committee foreseen in Regulation (EC) No 561/2006, and taking into account the limits of the competence that Member States and the legislators have decided to give to the Commission.
Report from the Commission Analysing the penalties for serious infringements against the social rules in road transport, as provided for in the legislation of the Member States; Brussels, 15.5.2009, COM(2009) 225 final.