Select Committee on European Communities Report


Letter from the Rt Hon Dr John Reid MP, Minister of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, to Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee

  I enclose an explanatory memorandum in respect of the proposal for amending Directive 96/26/EC on admission to the occupations of road haulage and road passenger transport operator.

  The Commission has commented in the attached document on the modifications proposed by the European Parliament at its sitting of 17 July at second reading on this proposal. The Commission have accepted some minor modifications but these do not affect the substance of the proposed Directive.

  The Commission's revised proposal is likely to be submitted for adoption as an "A" point by the Council at its meeting on 1 October. Unfortunately it will not be possible to obtain scrutiny clearance before this. However, as the Council is unlikely to change the common position it reached at its meeting on 17 March 1998 we believe it sensible to secure agreement on the proposal. I hope you will be content with this explanation.

25 September 1998

Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee to The Rt Hon Dr John Reid MP, Minister of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

  Thank you for your letter dated 25 September and Explanatory Memorandum (EM) dated 28 September on the above proposal. In you letter you explained why it was not possible to obtain scrutiny clearance before the proposal was agreed at an "A" point at the Council meeting on 1 October, and I accept that explanation.

  As you state in paragraph two of your EM, the proposal was considered by Sub-Committee B in 1997(as EM 5875/97) and, after inviting some written evidence on the proposal, I wrote to Baroness Hayman on 3 July[24] of that year raising several issues of concern to the Committee. I have enclosed a copy of that letter for your reference.

  In the light of the recent agreement, the Committee has asked me to write asking you to what extent the Committee's concerns were incorporated into the final version of the text.

28 October 1998

Letter from The Rt Hon Dr John Reid MP, Minister of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, to Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee

  Thank you for your letter of 28 October about the recently adopted EU Directive on admission to the Occupation of Road Haulage Operator and Road Passenger Transport Operator.

  I enclose a copy of the Directive for your information. We have until October 1999 to bring it into effect domestically and we are now considering the changes required and discussing these with the Traffic Commissioners and the industry. I believe we secured some useful improvements during the negotiations in Brussels and it may be helpful if I set out the main points of the Directive.

  The weight threshold set in the Directive is 3.5 tonnes which reflects our natural limit for goods vehicle operator licensing. There is a small revision to the terms of the good repute requirement; the word "repeated" is now omitted from the reference to road transport offences. The significant changes however, are to the criteria for financial standing and professional competence.

  The financial limits will be raised to 9000 Euro for the first vehicle and 5000 Euro for each additional vehicle. Existing operators will have up to two years from the implementation date to meet these new financial requirements.

  The standards for professional competence will be improved by introducing a tougher examination for the Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC). This will involve written case studies based on the framework set out in the Directive as well as the existing multiple choice test and we have begun work on developing this new form of CPC exam. The distinction between national and international CPC will remain.

  We are required by the Directive to carry out interim checks to ensure that operators continue to fulfil the criteria of good repute, professional competence and financial standing. The form of this check is left to individual Member States to determine, but it will fit in with our five-yearly cycle for renewal of operator licensing fees. An operator may be allowed an additional year to meet the new financial limits if they are not met at the time of the interim check.

  You will see therefore that the concerns in your letter of 3 July were largely reflected in the final version of the Directive. During the negotiations, however, Member States agreed to retain the existing distinction in the CPC qualification for national and international operators. I appreciate that the sub-committee which considered this proposal favoured removing this distinction, although, as you note in your letter, the RHA and FTA both supported retaining this distinction because the majority of hauliers operate solely in the domestic market.

3 December 1998

24   Printed in Correspondence with Ministers, 11th Report, Session 1997-98, p22. Back

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