Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Freight Organisation Condemns French Government Charge on Foreign Truck Drivers

FTA Accuses Authorities of Protectionism - Again
Shipping News Feature
FRANCE – UK – The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has fiercely criticised the French government’s decision to charge a €40 fee for every worker operating in France on a temporary basis, and employed by a foreign company, as a restrictive practice which will severely curtail the ability of UK logistics and road haulage operators to work effectively in continental Europe. It has called on both the European Union and the new French government to take measures to halt the proposal in it's tracks.

From the 1 January 2018 (at the latest) French authorities intend to charge a fee of €40 per posted worker for companies providing services on the French soil which are established outside France. The fee will be used to maintain a database that will handle all documents required by French authorities for posted workers – including drivers. Pauline Bastidon, FTA’s Head of European Policy, said:

“In practice, in our sector, this new charge amounts to a restrictive tax on international transport carried out by foreign operators. The fee of €40 per driver is excessive and, simply put, is a protectionist measure designed to close the French transport market to any operator established outside of France. It will disproportionately increase the cost of operating in France and could have negative consequences for international transport to and from the country. Coming on top of already burdensome requirements, such as the need to have a permanent representative in France, the decision to implement an additional charge on the working of international operators is nothing more than a protectionist tax benefitting the domestic French market, and is one which our members wholeheartedly oppose.

“On behalf of the UK freight and logistics industry, the FTA is calling on the European Commission to react strongly and speed up its ongoing legal case against France, to ensure that trade can continue to flow across borders in a seamless manner and to protect the integrity of the single market. Mr Macron’s new French government will have the power to reverse this decision which was made by its predecessors, and we urge him to do so, to ensure that the EU’s trading routes remain open and frictionless to all operators.”

This sort of controversy is of course nothing new when it comes to unilateral measures by France which are perceived outside of the country as restrictive and aimed directly at limiting the opportunities of foreign workers. Last year the French insisted that anyone driving international road vehicles received payment whilst in the country equal to, or exceeding that, of French minimum wages, together with the necessity for the permanent representation the FTA touches on in a complex regulation which we explained in an article at the time.

Just two weeks ago another freight lobby group in the UK, the Road Haulage Association (RHA), was warmly congratulating Msieu Macron on his election victory and stressing ‘the importance of maintaining the free flow of road freight to, from and through the UK and all EU Member States’. It seems with this latest move France has again acted in a way which many will see as contrary to the spirit and regulations of the great European economic model.