Latest update on the Mobility Package! The European Commission clarifies the return obligation of trailers
The EU Mobility Package was negotiated and adopted as a package in August 2020. It includes several pieces of legislation aimed at establishing a new regulatory framework for road freight transport in Europe. It intends to improve working conditions for drivers, safety in international transport, sustainability and economy for the European road transport system. Several key measures of the Mobility Package entered into force this year.
One of the key aspects of this regulation is the rule on the return of the vehicle, which has been discussed intensively within the transportation industry.
Context of the return obligation for vehicles
The rule on the return of the vehicle was accepted by the different EU legal entities in August 2020. The Article 5 of Regulation (EC) No 1071/2009 stated that starting from February 2022, “vehicles that are at the disposal of the undertaking and are used in international carriage return to one of the operational centres in that Member State at least within eight weeks after leaving it”.
At that time, the European Commission (EC) was including trailers into this rule, which raised many questions from transport associations who were against this decision. They pointed out three major mismatches of the regulation, showing that it is unfeasible and enforceable for this category of vehicles:
The return obligation is linked to the location requirements and therefore applies to vehicles that must have a Euro permit, which is not the case for trailers
It is not possible to keep track of the return of a trailer, because they do not have a tachograph
The empty running of trailer has negative environmental, economical and financial impacts, on top of negatively affecting traffic flow
In June 2022, transportation associations appealed to the EC to review its regulation and amend it for trailers.
Return obligation of trailers: what’s the final decision of the European Commission?
After many discussions between the European Commissions and hauliers about the implementation of this legislation for trailers, the EC abolished the return obligation for trailers. By repling to hauliers’ questions, the European Commission understood the irrelevance of the return obligation of trailers.
Therefore, the Article 5 of Regulation (EC) No 1071/2009 now states that only “motor vehicles and combinations of vehicles used in international transport” must return to one of the branches in the country of residence.
If the trailers had to be returned empty every 8 weeks, this would have had incalculable consequences for our European road freight transport, both environmentally and economically. This decision is a relief for our industry!