Official Journal of the European Union

C 10/44

Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on the ‘Proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on common rules for access to the market for coach and bus services (Recast)’

COM(2007) 264 final — 2007/0097 (COD)

(2008/C 10/11)

On 16 July 2007, the Council decided to consult the European Economic and Social Committee, under Article 175(1) of the Treaty establishing the European Community, on the abovementioned proposal.

The Section for Transport, Energy, Infrastructure and the Information Society, which was responsible for preparing the Committee's work on the subject, adopted its opinion on 5 September 2007. The rapporteur was Mr Allen.

At its 438th plenary session, held on 26 and 27 September 2007 (meeting of 26 September 2007), the European Economic and Social Committee adopted the following opinion by 150 votes to 1 with 3 abstentions.

1.   Conclusions and Recommendations


The committee welcomes the proposed new regulation. The adoption of this proposal will lead to the repeal of Regulation No 684/92 and Regulation No 12/98.


The safety of passengers must be the absolute priority, also in the case of Bus and Coach services. All other matters must be considered as of lesser importance.


The new regulation should contribute to road safety due to a stricter monitoring of international bus and coach services which operate in several Member States.


The committee commends this proposal as it comes under the ‘Better Regulation’ programme and is in conformity with the commitment to simplify and update the acquis.


The EESC recommends that:


Further clarification be given to the statement ‘serious infringement or repeated minor infringements of community road transport legislation’. What constitutes a minor infringement? How many minor infringements will lead to an administrative penalty?


It is also necessary to make a list of what constitutes serious infringements.


The principle of subsidiarity must not be used as a means to discriminate against non-resident carriers and this proposal should incorporate greater safeguards in this regard.


It must be a priority to establish an EU wide data base so that so that licence details and related information can be verified and to facilitate the exchange of information.


Under Article 23(3) a special appeal system should be available to a carrier where a host Member State imposes an administrative sanction on the occasion of a cabotage transport operation. This to be without prejudice to a criminal prosecution.

2.   Introduction


Directive 96/26/EC on admission to the occupation of road transport operator together with Regulations (EEC) No 684/92 and (EC) No 12/98 on access to the market for coach and bus services formed initially the major component of the internal market for international passenger transport services by road.


The directive introduced minimum quality standards which must be met in order to enter the profession, while the two regulations liberalised international occasional passenger services, established a special authorisation procedure for international regular passenger services as well as allowed cabotage services in the course of such international services.


These rules now ought to be made consistent with the new legal framework stemming from the regulation of public passenger transports by rail and road, which is on the verge to be adopted by Parliament and Council. These rules need also to be made clearer and in some cases simplified since it has appeared from experience that certain legal provisions entail unnecessary administrative burdens.


Carriers engaged in the international carriage of passengers by coach and bus must hold an International Road Passenger Transport Operators Licence issued by the competent authority of the Member State where the carrier is established, unless otherwise exempted.


Regulation No 684/92 opens the access to the market of international carriage of passengers by coach and bus while Regulation No 12/98 lays down the conditions for non-resident carriers to operate services within a Member State.

3.   Summary of the Proposal


The Proposal aims at revising and consolidation Regulations No 684/92 and Regulation No 12/98 on the access to the market for coach and bus services. It clarifies the existing legal provisions and modifies them on certain aspects to strengthen overall consistency and reduce administrative burdens.


For the purposes of this Regulation, the following definitions will apply:


Regular services means services which provide for the carriage of passengers at specified intervals along specified routes, passengers being taken up and set down at predetermined stopping points. This service must have an authorisation from their home Member State within which the carrier is established and the vehicle(s) are registered. Authorisations shall entitle their holder(s) to operate regular services in the territories of all Member States over which the routes of the service pass.


Special regular services means regular services, which provides for the carriages of specified categories of passengers to the exclusion of other passengers. These shall include


the carriage of workers between home and work;


carriage to and from the educational institution for school pupils and students.

No authorisation (route licence) is necessary for this service if they are covered by a contract concluded between the organiser and the carrier.


Occasional services means services which do not fall within the definition of regular services, including special regular services and whose main characteristic is that they carry groups of passengers constituted on the initiative of the customer or the carrier. This service does not require authorisation (route licence).


Own account transport operations are those carried on by an undertaking for its own employees or by a non-profit making body for the transport of its members in connection with its social activities provided that


the transport activity is only an ancillary activity for the undertaking or body;


the vehicles used are the property of the undertaking or body or have been the subject of a long-term leasing or contract and are driven by a member of the staff of the undertaking or body.

It is exempt from any system or authorisation but subject to a system of certificates issued by the competent authorities of the Member State in which the vehicle is registered.


Cabotage is the operation of National road Transport Services when being operated by a non-resident carrier on a temporary basis.


Cabotage transport operations shall be authorised for the following services;


special regular services provided they are covered by a contract between the organiser and the carrier;


occasional services;


regular services, performed by a carrier not resident in the host Member State in the course of a regular international service in accordance with this regulation. Excluding Urban and surrounding areas. Cabotage transport shall not be preformed independently of such international service.

The national laws and regulations shall be applied by the Member States to non resident carriers under the same conditions as are imposed on their own nationals.

4.   General Comments


Article 8 simplifies the procedure for obtaining authorisation (route licence). In relation to market access there will be only one ground for refusal, namely that the service applied for would seriously affect the viability of a comparable service operated under a public service obligation on the direct sections concerned. This is reasonable.


Transit countries where no passengers are picked up or set down will not be consulted but will be informed once the service has been authorised. This will improve the efficiency of the system.


The principle of subsidiarity applies as the proposal does not fall within the exclusive competence of the Community. However, safeguards are essential to ensure that non-resident carriers are not subject to discrimination.


Further clarification is needed as regards Article 18(2). Which deals with Transport tickets.


The operator must provide Transport Tickets either individual or collective. If, in the event of an inspection by an authorised inspecting officer, (and tickets having previously been issued by the operator) passenger(s) are not in possession of a valid ticket(s), then the operator cannot be held responsible for this situation. Once tickets have been issued then passengers must henceforth be responsible for presenting tickets to an authorised inspecting officer.

5.   Specific comments


In general terms this proposal achieves the objectives set by the Commission.


The issues surrounding infringements both serious and minor and the administrative sanctions that may apply needs further clarification. The nature and type of infringements that fall into the various categories, needs to be defined and be consistent throughout the Community.


In the case of serious infringements or repeated minor infringements the host Member State can request the member that issued the International Transport Licence to impose administrative sanctions on the Licence holder — (such as temporary or permanent withdrawal of some or all of the certified copies of the licence or temporary or permanent withdrawal of the licence). This is without prejudice to any criminal prosecution in the host Member State.


While reference is made to an appeals system where sanctions are imposed or where authorisations are refused such appeals must be seen by all parties to be fair and non-discriminatory.


An EU-wide data base must be established to facilitate the fast and efficient exchange of information between Member States as regards bus and coach operations. In addition when a vehicle is inspected by an authorised officer, it should be possible to key in the number of the International Transport Licence (Community Licence) and immediately obtain all relevant information to verify the validity of the licence.

Brussels, 26 September 2007.

The President

of the European Economic and Social Committee