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20.2.1.  Access to the common inland transport market of the EU

    Article 75 of the EEC Treaty (Article 91 TFEU) stipulated that, in order to open up access to the Community transport market, the Council should draw up common rules applying to international transport services from or to a destination in another Member State (intra-Community traffic) or crossing the territory of one or several Member States (Community transit). Considerable legislative harmonisation was necessary for the attainment of the Treaty's objectives in this area, naturally requiring a great deal of time and effort. From the access viewpoint, the carriage of goods by road was the hardest nut to crack. International road haulage required the authorisation of the States to be crossed, usually granted on a bilateral basis by the States in question. This authorisation system sought to protect national railways and hauliers and naturally acted as a brake on the opening up of the Community transport market.

    Work began fairly early on to break down the defences of this protectionist system by liberalising certain special transport services such as frontier transport, mail carriage and, notably, combined road/rail carriage [Directive 75/130 repealed by Directive 92/106]. However, these specific measures only concerned a minute proportion of carriage by road between the Member States, the bulk of which was subject to a system of quotas and bilateral authorisations. Instead of abolishing these bilateral quotas, the Council, in 1968, merely created a small Community quota representing less than 10% of the bilateral quotas.

    The clear lack of political commitment to creating a "common" transport policy eventually exasperated the European Parliament. With the support of the European Commission and on the basis of Article 175 of the EEC Treaty (Article 265 TFEU), it adopted a Resolution relating to proceedings for failure to act against the Council on September 16, 1982 [see section 4.1.5]. The Parliament stated, indeed, that only minimum provisions had been adopted in the area of transport policy, falling well short of the objectives set in the EEC Treaty, particularly in Articles 3 and 74. The judgment delivered by the Court of Justice on May 22, 1985 was a partial success for the Parliament and the Commission [Case 13/83]. The Court established that the Council had, in violation of the Treaty, failed to ensure the free provision of services in the area of international transport and to define conditions for the admission of non-resident transport operators to the national transport market of a Member State. Acting on the Court judgment and on the entry into force of the Single European Act, the Council finally established freedom of access to the inland transport market.

    A Regulation lays down common rules for access to the market in the international carriage of goods by road within the territory of the European Union, as well as the conditions under which non-resident hauliers may operate transport services within a Member State [Regulation 1072/2009]. In the event of carriage from a Member State to a third country and vice versa, this Regulation applies to the part of the journey on the territory of any Member State crossed in transit. Hauliers are required to carry a certified true copy of the ''Community licence'' aboard each of their vehicles and a uniform document, the "driver attestation", thanks to which the regularity of the employment status of a driver of an EU vehicle engaged in international carriage under cover of a European authorisation can be effectively checked by inspecting officers of all Member States [Regulation 484/2002]. Hauliers who are holders of Community licences are permitted to carry out national transport services within a Member State on a temporary basis (cabotage), in conformity with European social and safety legislation. Should economic crisis hit the road haulage market, the Commission can take measures to prevent any further capacity increases on the market affected [Regulation 3916/90].

    The freedom to provide passenger transport services by road for hire or reward or on one's own account is also guaranteed by a Regulation laying down common rules for access to the international market for coach and bus services [Regulation 1073/2009, last amended by Regulation 361/2014]. It notably provides for the liberalisation of shuttle services by coach and bus with sleeping accommodation, along with nearly all occasional services, and simplifies authorisation procedures by introducing a Community licence based on a harmonised model and on detailed rules with regard to documentation covering the international carriage of passengers. It also lays down the conditions under which non-resident carriers may operate national road passenger transport services (cabotage) within a Member State. In the event of carriage from a Member State to a third country and vice versa, the Regulation applies to the part of the journey on the territory of any Member State crossed in transit. Despite cabotage liberalisation, when a bus or coach company wants to gain a permanent foothold in another national market, the simplest way to do so remains to establish itself on that market. Thus, the impact of cabotage on the national markets of the Member States is marginal and insignificant, with cabotage operations carried out mainly in adjacent Member States.

    Another regulation establishes common rules concerning the conditions to be complied with to pursue the occupation of road transport operator [Regulation 1071/2009]. It applies to all undertakings established in the European Union which are engaged or which intend to engage in the occupation of road transport operator by means of motor vehicles or combinations of vehicles the permissible laden mass of which exceeds 3,5 tonnes and with a maximum authorised speed exceeding 40 km/h. Undertakings engaged in the occupation of road transport operator must: (a) have an effective and stable establishment in a Member State; (b) be of good repute; (c) have appropriate financial standing; and (d) have the requisite professional competence. These undertakings must designate at least one natural person, the transport manager, who satisfies the requirements set out in (b) and (d) and who effectively and continuously manages the transport activities of the undertaking, has a genuine link to the undertaking and is resident in the EU. The good repute of transport managers is conditional on their not having been convicted of a serious criminal offence or not having incurred a penalty, for a serious infringement, in particular, of European rules relating to road transport.

    The controls performed at the frontiers of Member States in the field of road and inland waterway transport have been abolished concerning both the means of transport registered or put into circulation in the Member States and those registered in third countries [Regulation 3912/92]. However, Member States can perform checks, verifications and inspections relating to technical characteristics, authorisations and other documentation that vehicles and inland waterway vessels must comply with [Regulation 1100/2008].

    The agreements ASOR [Agreement, Decision 82/505 and Regulation 56/83] and Interbus [Agreement and Decision 2002/917] on the international occasional carriage of passengers by coach and bus govern traffic not only between the EC/EU and the Central and Eastern European countries concerned but also between the third countries themselves, thus establishing a degree of fiscal, social and technical harmonisation in addition to market access rules.

    A 1995 Directive on the licensing of railway undertakings establishes common conditions of access to the European rail market, in particular by requiring that undertakings applying for a licence meet specified standards of financial capacity and professional competence [Directive 95/18].

    International waterway transport has enjoyed freedom of navigation embodied in international treaties, such as that for navigation on the Rhine, since before the creation of the European Community. However, a directive ensures reciprocal recognition of navigability licences for inland waterway vessels [Directive 2009/100 last amended by Directive 2016/1629, OJ L 252, 16.09.2016] and another directive lays down conditions for access to the profession of waterway transport operator [Directive 87/540]. A single boatmasters’ certificate issued by a Member State using a Community-designed model is mutually recognised by the Member States [Directive 91/672]. Any operator can transport goods or passengers by inland waterway between Member States or transit through them, provided he satisfies certain rules set out in a European Regulation [Regulation 1356/96].

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    Your roadmap in the maze of the European Union.

    Based on the book of Nicholas Moussis:
    Access to European Union law, economics, policies
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