European Court of Justice: Drivers are no longer allowed to spend their rest time in their vehicle

 

The European law makers have announced that it will be no longer permitted for professional drivers to spend their rest time in their vehicle.

This conclusion was presented by the Attorney General Evgeni Tanchev of the European Court of justice (EuGH) in Luxembourg.

Behind this decision is the Belgian transportation company Vaditrans BVBA’s legal action suit against the Belgian government. Vaditrans goal was to force the retraction of a decree made in April 2014 that in the event of a violation of the alleged prohibition, a fine of 1,800 EUR would follow. The Belgian State Council called on the EuGH for clarity in the context of a preliminary ruling. A final decision from the Court of Justice has not been communicated yet, but the EuGH generally closely follows the opinion of the Attorney General. At this time, the Court of Justice has not yet dealt with the question of whether in Article 8 section 6 and 8 of regulation Nr. 561/2006 established regular weekly rest periods for drivers can be spent in their vehicles.

 

There are no specific rules mentioned in the regulation. In addition to Belgium, the German, French and Austrian Governments as well as the European Commission submitted written observations stating that the existing regulations had to be interpreted as a ban. This is the only way to achieve the objectives of the regulation, to improve the working conditions of drivers and road safety. Vaditrans and the Estonian and Spanish governments were of the opposite opinion.
In his opinion, the Advocate General notes  that a comparative study on the assessment of social legislation in the road transport industry and its enforcement has shown that drivers in 19 out of 24 member states are not allowed to spend regular weekly rest periods in the vehicle while eight member states are allowed to do so, and for three member states both responses are true.  Prohibition is, in any case, the approach pursued by the majority of EU Member States. The current procedure is by no means a mere technical aspect of the EU’s  road transport policy, he stressed. Rather, it is a matter of looking at complex social-law problems, which are of great importance, among other things, for road safety and protection of the work force.

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