Not cleared from scrutiny; further information requested
Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 92/106/EEC on the establishment of common rules for certain types of combined transport of goods between Member States
Article 91(1)TFEU; ordinary legislative procedure, QMV
(39205), 14213/17 + ADDs 1–2, COM(17) 648
5.1This European Commission proposal would amend Directive 92/106/EEC on the establishment of common rules for certain types of combined transport of goods between Member States. It is part of the second phase of the Mobility Package—the European Commission’s set of initiatives seeking to establish a more integrated and sustainable EU transport system. The objective of the proposal is to further increase the competitiveness of combined transport compared to long-distance road freight and therefore strengthen the shift from road freight to other modes of transport.
5.2An ex-post evaluation of the 1992 Directive found shortcomings relating in particular to the definition of combined transport, the limitations of fiscal incentives and the outdated provisions relating to transport documents.
5.3The proposed amending Directive aims to remedy these by, among other things:
5.4The Government informs us that it agrees with the European Commission that amendment of the existing Directive can only be done at EU level. However, the Government will be considering, with stakeholders, whether some aspects of the proposal may go beyond what is required to achieve the objectives of the proposal.
5.5We note that the Government believes that it is unlikely that UK domestic legislation would need to be amended to apply the proposed Directive to include national transport and operations with non-EU countries as this would be more a matter of a change in practice. However, this will depend on the exact form of the final proposal. In any case, a revised definition could entail operational and procedural changes.
5.6The Government describes Combined Transport operations in the UK as limited and does not envisage a major impact on industry from the proposal. The Government believes that the UK road haulage industry is liable to face slightly less foreign competition on the UK road legs of some freight movements between the EU and UK via longer sea crossings due to the proposed alteration in the definition of Combined Transport and that operators using Combined Transport should have some cost savings from modernised requirements for documentation.
5.7The proposal also requires Member States to take necessary measures to support investment in transshipment terminals but does not specify what these measures might be. The Government therefore anticipates a possible cost impact and intends to work with economists to seek to quantify some of these proposed measures as negotiations develop.
5.8We therefore request:
5.9We retain this proposal under scrutiny and request a response by 21 April 2018.
Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 92/106/EEC on the establishment of common rules for certain types of combined transport of goods between Member States: (39205), + ADDs 1–2, COM(17) 648.
5.10Directive 92/106/EEC defines Combined Transport as the transport of goods on intra-European journeys where the lorry, trailer, semi-trailer, with or without tractor unit, swap body or container of 20ft or more, uses the road on the initial and/or final leg of the journey, and on the other leg uses rail, inland waterway or maritime services. The road legs must be no more than 150km and the non-road leg must be more than 100km. Financial incentives are given for road legs of Combined Transport operations by way of reduced taxation and maximum permissible vehicle weights in some Member States. If the ultimate start and end points of the whole journey are in different countries, the non-road legs are treated as parts of international journeys and haulage operations established anywhere in the EU can compete for them, including non-road legs which themselves are within a Member State.
5.11An ex-post evaluation of the Directive was carried out and published in 2016. It concluded that the Directive continues to be a relevant instrument for supporting combined transport. It argued that without EU action, cross-border combined transport services would be faced with barriers resulting from different legal systems, making such services less attractive and possibly unfeasible. It also argued that combined transport helps reduce negative externalities through a modal shift. However, it found shortcomings relating in particular to the definition of combined transport, the limitations of fiscal incentives and the outdated provisions relating to transport documents.
5.12The amendments in the proposal concern:
5.13(Article 1)—this provides the scope of the Directive and the definition of ‘combined transport’. The proposal would amend this Article to provide a new definition by:
5.14(Article 3)—this includes a reference to a transport document that can be used as proof of eligibility, and provides additional specification for information to be added, in particular the usage of stamps to confirm or verify parts of the operation. Because these conditions were deemed unclear, and because stamps are no longer used in many facilities, the proposal would replace this Article with a more precise specification of the conditions and types of evidence to be used as proof of eligibility for combined transport for the purposes of road checks performed in a Member State on a road leg of the transport operation:
5.15(Article 5)—this includes reporting obligations for the Commission (with the assistance of the Member States), but lacks a systematic obligation to collect the relevant data in support of such an obligation. The proposal would therefore modify the reporting conditions and obligations necessary to ensure the proper application of the Directive:
5.16(Article 6)—this includes the economic support conditions applicable to combined transport. The proposal would add five new paragraphs to extend the scope of these support measures:
5.17(Articles 7 and 9)—these include specific provisions addressing own-account transport and aimed at facilitating such transport. The proposal would delete these, as the Commission believes it is no longer reasonable to make a distinction, in the context of this Directive, between combined transport for hire or reward and own-account combined transport. Unless otherwise specified, the rights and obligations of the Directive would be the same for both types of transport.
5.18(Article 9a)—the proposal would add this Article to ensure that transparency is provided to all stakeholders involved in combined transport operations with regard to the implementation of the Directive, and in particular the support measures available and the conditions for their application. A network of competent authorities would be established to foster co-operation among Member States by exchanging relevant information and best practices, in particular on support measures, and by providing a list of main contact points for stakeholders. In addition, paragraph 4 provides that the Commission would need to make available the list of competent authorities and relevant measures adopted by the Member States.
5.19(Article 10a)—the proposal would add this Article to provide the procedure for the exercise of Commission delegated powers.
5.20Finally, the proposal is accompanied by two Staff Working Documents:
5.21The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Transport (Jesse Norman) informs us that the Government agrees with the Commission that amendment of the existing Directive can only be done at EU level. However, the Government will be considering, with stakeholders, whether some aspects of the proposal may go beyond what is required to achieve the objectives of the proposal.
5.22The Explanatory Memorandum notes that Combined Transport operations in the UK are limited so the Government does not expect the measures to have a significant impact, but its effect may depend on the final definition emerging from the negotiating processes and the degree to which specified support measures are required.
5.23The Government believes that it is unlikely that UK domestic legislation would need to be amended to apply the proposed Directive to include national transport and operations with non-EU countries as this would be more a matter of a change in practice. However, this will depend on the exact form of the final proposal. In any case, a revised definition could entail operational and procedural changes.
5.24The Government has begun a targeted consultation on the proposal with representatives of the freight industry. Although the Government is still considering its detailed position on the proposal, the Explanatory Memorandum provides an initial assessment of its policy implications.
5.25Firstly, the proposal would remove long sea journeys of more than 100km (for example, across the North Sea). This is welcomed by the Government, as it would establish that road haulage between UK ports and inland end points should be considered as domestic, with non-UK EU competition being based on the general, restricted road haulage cabotage rights. This should simplify some enforcement practice related to non-UK vehicles in the UK.
5.26Secondly, the proposal might impact on Channel Tunnel shuttle journeys. Articulated lorries carried in the shuttle as part of journeys which both originate and end within 150km of each Channel tunnel terminal are not covered by the current Directive because the rail leg is less than 100km. With the proposed removal of any distance limitation for the non-road leg, the Government was concerned that the proposal might include such journeys, which could result in operational complications (for example, concerning documentation and reporting). However, the Government has received reassurances from the Commission that this is not their intention, although the Government are considering whether to seek amendments in the final text to spell this out as clearly as possible.
5.27Thirdly, the proposal would extend the scope of Combined Transport to national operators. This will not impact the volume of cabotage operations as the ‘cabotage exemption’ will not apply to such national Combined Transport operations. The Government argues this should ensure that possible cabotage in national Combined Transport does not lead to unfair competition.
5.28Fourthly, the measures in the proposal would provide simpler definitions and boost digitalisation. This could reduce the administrative burden and the cost of enforcement. It could also prevent circumvention of cabotage rules because of the current difficulty in proving the ‘international Combined Transport’ aspect of the operation.
5.29Fifthly, the proposal would modify the reporting obligations on Member States. The Government will consider the proportionality and usefulness of this during the negotiations and in the context of other Member State views.
5.30Sixthly, the proposal would amend the treatment of ‘own-account’ transport within Combined Transport, providing, in the Government’s view, useful simplification, and aligning it with ‘hire and reward’ transport.
5.31A further advantage to the proposal is that it would modernise the arrangements for documentation carried by hauliers, including allowing electronic documentation.
5.32The Explanatory Memorandum notes that some measures will not have much, if any effect in the UK. For instance, the proposal would not amend tax rebate requirements in the UK because the Directive’s rebate requirements do not have a practical effect in this country.
5.33Furthermore, the extra allowances for Combined Transport and other intermodal operations outlined in practice make little difference to the policy and regulations related to lorry weights and dimensions allowed in the UK.
5.34The Explanatory Memorandum states that the precise implications of the proposal will depend on the outcome of the exit negotiations. Third country operators can only benefit from the current Directive if they are legally carrying out Combined Transport road legs in the EU or crossing the EU external border. Third country logistics companies, freight forwarders and other Combined Transport operation managers can benefit from the Directive’s regulatory advantages if they fulfil the criteria.
5.35The Explanatory Memorandum notes that the Government are still assessing the costs for the UK but that it is difficult to monetise given the vague wording in the proposal. The proposal requires Member States to take necessary measures to support investment in transshipment terminals but does not specify what these measures might be.
5.36The Council of Ministers has yet to discuss the proposal, although the Bulgarian Presidency intends to take negotiations forward and plans to include it on the agenda at the June 2018 Transport Council. The European Parliament appointed a Rapporteur on 11 December 2017.
25 European Commission Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 92/106/EEC on the establishment of common rules for certain types of combined transport of goods between Member States ().
26 Explanatory Memorandum from the Minister, DfT, to the Chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee ().
Published: 27 March 2018