Coach Operators & Drivers win as Parliament Committee backs EU Tourism

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    The European Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee (TRAN) has adopted the compromise amendments tabled by its lead rapporteur on driving and rest time rules for coach drivers. 

    TRAN, the file’s lead committee, has voted in support of the compromise amendments tabled by its rapporteur overseeing the file, finally opening the door to rules designed for the coach driver profession.

    Under the proposed amendments, coach tourism drivers can, in addition to the current rules, split their 45-minute break into two breaks of at least 15 minutes. On journeys that are six days or longer, coach tourism drivers can, once per trip, continue their trip for one additional hour and recuperate the break after. They will also be able to drive longer national tours of up to 12 days, currently only possible for international trips.

    IRU Director of EU Advocacy Raluca Marian said: “This is a major win for the EU’s tourism sector. More importantly, it’s a major win for coach tourism drivers, who are finally given rules meant for the specificities of their profession, not that of their truck driver colleagues, as is currently the case. It’s now in the hands of the plenary, and later on the official trilogue with the Council, to ensure that coach tourism drivers are given the choice to organise their breaks based on the nature of their work and the needs of their passengers, prioritising safety above all else. Beyond the harm being done to coach drivers’ wellbeing, the current rules are holding back Europe’s tourism sector, preventing the safest and most environmentally friendly form of collective passenger transport from prospering.”

    TRAN has also proposed for control documents to be digitalised and stored on a multilingual website, to be created by the European Commission, and made available for roadside controls. The Commission is also requested to explore the possibility to integrate the multilingual website as part of the Internal Market Information System (IMI), further facilitating the exchange of information.

    The next legislative step in the Parliamentary procedure is a vote in the plenary in December.

    “The coach driver file needs to be concluded in the Parliament and Council this year, allowing for the trilogue institutional negotiations to be completed by the end of February, and the law going into effect already in 2024. Coach drivers cannot wait any longer. They deserve rules designed for their work. It’s the bare minimum,” concluded Raluca Marian.

    In May 2023, over three years after the adoption of the EU’s Mobility Package 1, the European Commission recognised that the current coach driver rules are not suited to the occasional passenger transport sector, as they only reflect the needs of the truck driver profession, and submitted a promising proposal.

    The Commission’s proposal has since been improved by the TRAN Committee’s lead rapporteur on driving and rest time rules for coach drivers.

    Coach tourism drivers tailor their journeys according to the pace of their passengers. This means more breaks and stops along the way, and a combination of longer trips (at the start and end of long-distance tours) and shorter trips (during tours), with an average driving time of around 4.5 to 5 hours per day.

    The file’s rapporteur, Henna Virkkunen (EPP), together with the shadow rapporteurs from all political groups, has constructively negotiated a set of compromise amendments. The rapporteur’s proposal takes into account, and further improves, the recommendations made earlier by the European Parliament’s Committee on Employment and Social Affairs while also strengthening the proposal and simplifying the enforcement of future rules by digitalising control document and practices.