EU Advances Proposal to Amend HGV Driving Licence Rules for Greater Driver Inclusion
The European Commission's proposal to revise driving licence rules has garnered support from the International Road Transport Union (IRU), offering potential solutions to the shortage of bus, coach, and truck drivers in the road transport sector. With approximately 600,000 drivers needed in these categories, the European Council's alignment with the Commission's proposal signals a positive shift.
Accompanied Driving and Training for Truck Drivers
One key aspect of the proposal endorsed by the European Council is the allowance of accompanied driving and training for truck drivers (categories C and C1) starting from the age of 17. This move is viewed as an opportunity to break down barriers and attract young talent to the industry. The proposal provides a chance for young graduates from vocational schools to gain driving experience under the supervision of experienced drivers. However, the caveat is that Member States retain the authority to establish different national practices, introducing a potential divergence in the implementation of this provision.
Raluca Marian, the IRU Director of EU Advocacy, shared insights on the Council's position, stating, "The Council’s position is both sweet and sour for truck drivers." While acknowledging the positive step of allowing accompanied driving for 17-year-olds, Marian expressed disappointment that the measure remains optional for Member States. Ideally, the IRU advocates for a standardised approach across the EU, aligning with the regulations for young private car drivers.
Recognition of Third-Country Driving Licences
Another noteworthy development is the Council's acceptance of the Commission's proposal for an EU mechanism to recognise third-country driving licences. This move aims to standardise practices, as each Member State currently follows its own procedures. Raluca Marian emphasised the necessity of attracting more drivers to the sector and the importance of recognising foreign professional driving licences. However, she noted that the Council fell short of fully addressing the issue, as professional drivers also require a recognised Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) to drive in the EU.
An Opportunity Missed?
Despite these positive strides, the Council missed an opportunity to meet the needs of collective passenger transport. The absence of measures such as removing the arbitrary 50-kilometre limit for professional bus and coach drivers under 21 years old was noted. While acknowledging progress, Marian expressed hope that the European Parliament would introduce enhanced driving licence rules during trialogue negotiations.
In conclusion, the EU's steps toward amending HGV driving licence rules are seen as a positive move, but challenges remain. The IRU emphasises the need for a unified approach across Member States to ensure consistent standards and address the persistent shortage of drivers in the road transport sector.