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20.3.1.  Road transport in the EU

    The part of road haulage in the total freight transport of the European Community increased from around 50% in 1970 to almost 70% in 1990. This increase was partly due to the choice of the Member States not to charge the prices of road transport with the cost of infrastructures. In 1968, the Council, acting on a proposal by the Commission, had introduced bracket tariffs only for the carriage of goods by road between the Member States. This experimental system was replaced, since 1990, by a single system providing a free price setting applicable to all carriage of goods by road between the Member States [Regulation 4058/89]. This new tariff regime allows for the introduction of cost indexes, i.e. indicators of the various cost elements, which a haulier should take into account when drawing up a transport price to be negotiated with the client, but the real cost of infrastructures is not among those indicators. However, the Commission's approach to infrastructure charging based on the "user pays" principle [see section 20.2.3] could have an important bearing on the harmonisation of road transport costs and prices in the European Community/Union [COM/98/466].

    The form and content of registration certificates for motor vehicles have been harmonised in order to facilitate road traffic within the EC/EU, simplify procedures for the re-registration of vehicles in another Member State, and step up the fight against illegal vehicle trafficking [Directive 1999/37, last amended by Directive 2014/46]. Common rules command the recognition in intra-European traffic of the distinguishing sign of the Member State in which motor vehicles and their trailers are registered [Regulation 2411/98].

    The European Union aims not only at the harmonisation of conditions of competition and the protection of the environment but also at road safety, which becomes an ever more important problem of the EU. The principal actions taken so far in the area of road safety have been concerned with the harmonisation of rules relating to vehicle construction and vehicle inspection, through the adoption of over 100 Directives, notably on: minimum tyre tread depth [Directive 89/459]; the periodic inspection of vehicles [Directive 2014/45]; type-approval requirements for the general safety of motor vehicles, their trailers and systems, components and separate technical units intended therefor [Regulation 661/2009]; the mandatory wearing of seat belts [Directive 91/671]; compulsory installation of digital equipment to monitor the activities, notably the working hours, of lorry drivers (tachographs) [Regulation 165/2014, last amended by Regulation 2016/799]; and the general standards for the European model driving licence in paper or "credit card" format [Directive 2006/126, last amended by Directive 2016/1106], including harmonised codes for additional or restrictive information (microchip) [Regulation 383/2012, last amended by Regulation 575/2014]. Minimum safety requirements for tunnels have become obligatory in the trans-European road network [Directive 2004/54]. The European Union has set up additional requirements for the construction of motor vehicles and frontal protection systems in order to reduce the number and severity of injuries to pedestrians and other vulnerable road users who are hit by vehicles, and in order to avoid such collisions [Regulation 78/2009]. A Regulation concerning the rights of passengers in bus and coach transport aims, among other things, at ensuring a high level of protection for passengers [Regulation 181/2011]. How many citizens realise that these life-saving measures are based on the - according to eurosceptic rhetoric - "niggling legislation of Brussels" [see section 10.1]?

    In order to improve road safety and the environment, a Directive establishes minimum requirements for a regime of technical roadside inspections of the roadworthiness of commercial vehicles circulating within the territory of the Member States [Directive 2014/47]. At road safety aims also the directive concerning the organisation of working time for mobile workers performing road transport activities and for self-employed drivers [Directive 2002/15], as well as the directive facilitating the cross-border exchange of information on road safety related traffic offences [Directive 2011/82]. In the framework of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN/ECE) the European Community/Union has concluded an Agreement concerning the establishing of global technical regulations for wheeled vehicles, equipment and parts which can be fitted and/or be used on wheeled vehicles ("Parallel Agreement") [Decision 2000/125, last amended by Decision 2013/454].The Council has approved the creation of a European database on road accidents (CARE) [Decision 93/704] and adopted a Resolution concerning young drivers of cars and two-wheeled vehicles. Another Council Resolution aims at encouraging the use of telematics in the transport sector and particularly the harmonised deployment of road traffic information and warning services.

    The authorised weights and dimensions of road vehicles intended for the transport of goods and passengers in the EC/EU have been harmonised, in order to remove the barriers to free movement between Member States created by differences in the standards. Thus, a Directive lays down for certain road vehicles, including buses, circulating within the Union the maximum authorised dimensions in national and international traffic and the maximum authorised weights in international traffic [Directive 96/53, last amended by Directive 2015/719].

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