1. The Joint Committee has examined the following Commission proposals which are related to the common transport policy of the EEC:—
Draft Council Directive on own-account carriage of goods by road between Member States (4632/79), and
Draft Council Decision on the amendment of the European Agreement concerning the Work of Crews of Vehicles Engaged in International Road Transport (AETR) and on the accession of the European Communities to the Agreement (4443/79).
2. The Commission is seeking to have the proposed Directive implemented by the Member States by 1st January, 1980. The Joint Committee understands that it is quite possible that the Council will decide on the proposal during the Irish presidency. As far as the proposed Council Decision is concerned the Committee is informed that it has been substantially agreed to by COREPER and consequently it is likely to come before the next Transport Council.
3. The Joint Committee wishes to express its sincere thanks for the considerable assistance it received in considering these proposals from the Confederation of Irish Industry, Irish Road Haulage Association, Irish Overseas Transport Association and Córas Iompair Éireann.
B. OWN-ACCOUNT TRANSPORT
Contents of Proposal
4. The proposed Directive relates to “own-account carriage of goods by road” which, broadly speaking, covers the carriage in the operator’s own vehicles of his own goods or goods handled in his business. The Directive would treat a vehicle placed at his “exclusive disposal for at least one year” as the operator’s own vehicle. Certain types of international own-account transport have already been liberalised within the Community by the First Council Directive of 23rd July, 1962, as amended. The new Directive proposed would oblige Member States to exempt from all remaining quota and authorisation systems all own-account carriage of goods “which have a destination or place of origin on its territory or pass in transit across its territory”. The draft Directive specifies the documents to be carried on the vehicle and provides for the exchange of information between Member States regarding contraventions of the prescribed rules.
Implications for Ireland
5. Ireland has already exempted all international transport on own-account from quota restrictions, except in the case of transport carried out in accordance with a bilateral road transport agreement with France. Licences are, however, required for foreign owned vehicles engaged in own-account transport to or from Ireland. The adoption of the proposed Directive would involve dropping the licensing requirement and the abolition of the remaining quota restrictions.
6. The adoption of the Directive would not affect the rules governing transport with in the State but would no doubt give rise to consideration of the desirability of different rules applying to national and international transport operations. In Ireland own-account transport as defined in section 112 of the Road Transport Act, 1944 is not subject to any restriction but own-account operators cannot use hired or leased vehicles except when their own vehicles are under repair. The Directive, if adopted, would treat the carriage of goods between Member States in vehicles leased or hired to the operator for at least a year as own-account carriage of goods.
Views of the Joint Committee
7. The Joint Committee considers that the proposed Directive is in line with the objectives of the Treaty of Rome. It understands that while over 80 per cent of trade routes do not, at present, have any restrictions on own-account carriage of goods between Member States, there are still 14 routes involving trade within the Community which are subject to quota restrictions. It believes that the removal of these restrictions would benefit the country.
8. It has been represented to the Committee that the Directive should contain a provision similar to that governing national transport in the Transport Act, 1956 whereby the use of a vehicle hired for a short period to replace a vehicle undergoing repair would be permitted. The Committee considers that this request is a reasonable one and should be supported.
9. The Committee accepts the need for safeguarding against the possibility of abuse. Strict precautions are necessary to ensure that own-account transport can be easily identified. The provisions of the Directive regarding documents to be carried should be carefully examined to see if they are adequate in this respect.
C. AETR AGREEMENT
10. The European Agreement concerning the Work of Crews of Vehicles engaged in International Road Transport — otherwise referred to as AETR — was drawn up in 1970 by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. The Agreement prescribes for international journeys i.e. journeys between Community countries and third countries which are contracting parties to the Agreement, a code of practice governing minimum age of drivers, manning, maximum continuous driving periods, maximum daily, weekly and fortnightly driving periods, minimum daily and weekly rest periods and control procedures. The Agreement has been ratified by the Federal Republic of Germany, France, United Kingdom, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, Austria, Sweden, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Norway, Yugoslavia, German Democratic Republic, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union.
11. The provisions of AETR cover the same field as the social legislation of the EEC relating to road transport which is embodied in Council Regulation No. 543/69, as amended, and which was the subject of the thirty-ninth report of 30th June, 1976 of the former Joint Committee (Prl. 5595). The EEC rules are now part of Irish law and are being implemented over a phasing in period in accordance with the provisions of domestic statutory instruments. The final statutory instrument dealing with the calendar for the installation and use of tachographs was made by the Minister for Labour on 19th June, 1979.
12. Article 23 of the AETR provides for an amendment procedure whereby contracting parties may propose one or more amendments to it The proposal Council Decision provides that the Member States of the EEC acting through the Presidency, would make use of the procedure laid down in Article 23 in order to eliminate the main differences between the EEC rules and the provision of the AETR. The changes to be sought in the latter are as follows:—
(i) the alteration of the weekly rest period — 29 hours instead of 24,
(ii) elimination of double manning in vehicles with tachographs,
(iii) provision for accession to AETR by communities of states.
The draft Decision also provides that the Commission would be authorised to institute negotiations for the accession of the Community to the AETR.
Ratification of AETR
13. Council Regulation (EEC) No. 2829/77 of 12th December, 1977 required that all EEC Member States should ratify AETR. Because arrangements were being made in Ireland to phase in the EEC rules over the period ending December, 1980, it was recognised that Ireland would ratify AETR somewhat later than the other Member States. The Joint Committee is informed that an early announcement of Ireland’s intention to ratify is expected and that effect will be given to the ratification by regulations made under the European Communities Act, 1972.
Views of the Joint Committee
14. The Joint Committee agrees that it would be in the interest of the Community as a whole if the rules relating to the crews engaged in international road transport were harmonised not merely in respect of the carriage of goods between Member States but also in respect of transport between the Community and the other European States with which it trades. It understands that at present the volume of transport carried on by Irish operators to countries outside the Community is small. It has, however, been represented to the Committee that if these types of operations are extended Irish operators starting from the periphery of the Community would be under a disadvantage if inflexible arrangements for weekly rest periods are adhered to.
15. As there are now harmonised rules in force within the Community the Committee agrees that it is desirable that the Community itself should adhere to the AETR. Accession to the AETR should not however be regarded as a commitment that the rules at present in force within the Community can be changed within the context of the international agreement.
(Signed) MARK CLINTON,
Chairman of the Joint Committee.
27th June, 1979.