The Maltese government will back truck companies and fight new EU rules which will impinge Malta's competitiveness, Transport Minister Ian Borg said on Monday.

He made his comments after meeting representatives from Maltese international truck companies Attrans, Falcotrans , Express Trailers, and Fahrenheit.

The European Parliament recently voted in favour of amendments to EU rules forcing trucking companies to provide a paid rest period of around 45 hours every three to four consecutive weeks, at “the employer’s establishment or to the drivers’ place of residence”.

Trucks will also have to return to the company’s headquarters every eight weeks, in a move designed to prevent haulage companies from trying to register in other EU countries to take advantage of lower taxes.

A representative of Attrans had told Times of Malta on February 4 that the rules would cost his company between €500,000 and €1 million because of the need to buy more trucks and employ more people. 

The new rules form part of the EU Mobility Package, which eight EU member states are now trying to overturn. 

Dr Borg said he had held his meeting with the truck companies before a meeting in Brussels to discuss developments. 

Dr Borg agreed with the truck companies that the new rule forcing operators to bring trucks back to Malta every few weeks can create new challenges relating to costs, time and the environment.

The new rule, he said, threatened the competitiveness of countries such as Malta, an island on the periphery of Europe. 

Furthermore, the new rule would involve more motoring to the detriment of the environment. 

He said Malta was voicing its objections along with Cyprus, Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania. They have written to  Commission Vice President Timmermans and Transport Commissioner Adina  Valean, he said.

“This is an important industry and we will be doing all we can to have the rules annulled," Dr Borg said.

 

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