New tachographs: Commission challenges Council
By Isabelle Smets | Wednesday 27 June 2012
The European Commission is not happy with developments in the debate over ‘new generation’ tachographs. The Council of Ministers adopted its general approach, on 26 June, and the Commission says it does not provide enough safeguards against fraud, which was the original aim of the proposed reform.
Tachographs are devices which record the driving and rest times of lorry drivers within the EU, and the new generation devices incorporate satellite technology, which reduces the amount of manual input required (for example, signing in and out at the end of the day) and therefore the potential for fraud.
LICENCES AND CARDS
The Commission is criticising the Council for rejecting the idea of merging professional drivers’ licences with their driver cards, which are used for the identification of drivers and the storing of data related to their activities. By merging licences and cards, the Commission hopes to reduce the fraudulent use of driver cards, which are easy to exchange between drivers (unlike licences). However, the Council’s general approach threw out this part of the proposal. Until now, the Council had simply left the matter aside - a partial general approach was adopted in December 2011, but the question of merging licences and cards was not included, although discussions on the matter had already shown that ministers had doubts over the need for, and costs involved in, such a move.
The partial general approach adopted by the Council in December also introduced a new measure allowing member states to issue temporary driver cards, which would be valid for a maximum period of 185 days and non-renewable, to drivers who do not normally reside in the EU, “provided that such a driver presents a labour law relationship with an undertaking established in the issuing member state”. The Council also allowed for the issuing of cards to drivers residing in member states where the treaties do not apply. The Commission was opposed to this: it says that there would not be sufficient legal guarantees to ensure the respect of the regulation by these drivers.
The third bone of contention is the date foreseen for the introduction of the new tachograph, which the Commission says is too late. The general approach foresees that they should be installed in vehicles being registered for the first time 40 months before the entry into force of the necessary technical specifications. These technical specifications should be adopted by 31 December 2014 at the latest, which means that the new tachographs could not be installed before mid-2018.
The Commission has asked the Council and European Parliament to continue discussions on all these points, and Parliament will also adopt a first-reading report during its plenary session, on 3 July.