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98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 95/33

Opinion of the Economic and Social Committee on the ‘Draft Council Regulation (EC) on
statistical returns in respect of carriage of goods by road’ (1)

(98/C 95/09)

On 2 October 1997 the Council of the European Union decided to consult the Economic and
Social Committee, under Article 198 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, on
the above-mentioned draft regulation.

The Section for Transport and Communications, which was responsible for preparing the
Committee’s work on the subject, adopted its opinion on 16 December 1997. The rapporteur
was Mr de Norre.

At its 351st plenary session (meeting of 28 January 1998), the Committee adopted the following
opinion by 82 votes to two.

1. Content and scope of the draft information about the transport operations in question
[78/546/EEC (2), as amended by 89/462/EEC (3)] do not
permit the collection of information required for the
1.1. This draft regulation is the culmination of six quantification of certain activities, in particular:
years of discussions within the European Commission
and Eurostat (task force set up at the suggestion of the — the rates of utilization of the vehicles performing the
Coordinating Committee on Transport Statistics) and transport operations, and
consultations with certain relevant professional organ-
izations. — domestic transport operations performed by non-
residents (cabotage), which were not authorized at
the time of these directives’ entry into force but
1.2. According to the Commission, the draft should which will be completely liberalized as of 1 July
contribute towards the production of harmonized stat- 1998,
istics at EU level on the carriage of goods by road ‘and
ensure the availability of information necessary for the
framing, monitoring, controlling and evaluation of the and supply different information for domestic and
common policy’ in the field of transport. international transport.

1.3.1. For this purpose, the draft obliges Member 1.4.2. The Commission also stresses the need for
States’ statistical offices to supply Eurostat with the reliable information on:
results of statistical surveys by specified deadlines. These
surveys will cover firms operating commercial vehicles — transport operations between member states and
with a maximum permissible laden weight of at least 6 third countries,
tonnes and a payload of at least 3,5 tonnes, since smaller
vehicles ‘are not crucial to the common transport policy.’ — interregional transport operations within the EU,

— the journeys made by the vehicles performing these

1.3.2. This draft therefore involves national offices transport operations,
liaising with Eurostat.
— the types of vehicle used for these transport oper-
1.3.3. Nevertheless, the obligations which it imposes ations,
will also have an effect on the content of the statistical
information which the firms in question are required to — the nature and type of risk resulting from the
supply. transport of products subject to the Agreement
concerning the international carriage of dangerous
goods by road (ADR).
1.3.4. This being so, the Commission is anxious not
to impose an additional administrative burden on these
(2) Council Directive of 12 June 1978 on statistical returns in
respect of carriage of goods by road, as part of regional
1.4.1. It also states at various points in the draft that statistics (OJ L 168, 26.6.1978, p. 29); ESC opinion: OJ
the directives in force which govern statistical C 181, 31.7.1978, p. 27.
(3) Council Directive of 18 July 1989 amending Direc-
tive 78/546/EEC on statistical returns in respect of carriage
of goods by road, as part of regional statistics (OJ L 226,
(1) OJ C 341, 11.11.1997, p. 9. 3.8.1989, p. 8).
C 95/34 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 30.3.98

2. General considerations Article 7(3) should be the maximum deadlines, bearing

in mind the technology available.

2.1.1. Economic operators, scientific bodies and pub-

lic authorities constantly need reliable statistical infor- 2.2.3. In the Committee’s opinion, the approach
mation, comparable over time and space, which enable chosen must also tally more and more with the trend
trends in transport and goods movements to be gauged. towards intermodality and the integrated logistical
management of goods movements. This trend requires
a ‘functional’ approach to transport activity, in support
2.1.2. To answer this need, it is necessary to take of trade in a global economy.
account of:

— the international dimension of the relevant markets, A distinction should also be made between road trans-
which are no longer broken up into separate national port for hire or reward and own-account road transport,
markets; especially in vehicle registration records.

— the need to limit the administrative workload and

cost involved in collecting and processing the data,
by aiming for an optimum cost-benefit ratio.
3. Specific comments

2.1.3. It is also vital to:

3.1. With regard to the decision in Article 1 to compile

— quantify the transport operations performed within
Community statistics on motor vehicles, the Committee
the EU’s territory by vehicles registered in third
would refer to its comment 2.1.1 in its opinion on the
countries; this will involve the exchange of data
between Member States on the transport operations amendment to Directive 78/546/EEC (2), viz. that this
performed by vehicles passing through their territory decision could have the serious drawback of not taking
the whole of a multimodal transport operation into
in transit. The Committee therefore thinks pro-
account when the traction unit does not accompany the
visions regulating the exchange of data between
trailer unit on the non-road leg of a journey.
statistical offices must be adopted on the basis of
Council Regulation (EC) No 322/97 (1);

— use in connection with the processing of statistics — 3.2. Article 2 and Annex A1 give definitions for
apart from the tonne-kilometre — other parameters statistical purposes of various technical terms and
for appraising the space taken up by consignments, types of vehicles used in applying the regulation. The
the compactness of loads and their value. Committee would ask that care be taken to align these
definitions on the ones already applied, especially in the
directives harmonizing vehicle weights and dimensions.
2.1.4. The Committee approves the Commission’s
decision to replace the existing directives with a regu-
lation which will be directly applicable in all Member
States and which will therefore not permit any diver- 3.3. Article 2(2) lays down derogations which may
gences in interpretation. or must be applied to certain categories of vehicles,
according to their technical characteristics or use.

2.2.1. The European Commission seems above all to

be anxious to set up statistical machinery in support of 3.3.1. As regards vehicles whose permitted weights
the common transport policy which should help to or dimensions exceed the ‘normal permitted limits’, in
observe the markets, traffic flows and level of activity in other words special convoys, the Committee would note
the transport-for-hire-or-reward sector. The Committee that these transport operations are of considerable value
welcomes the Commission’s decision to create within for the EU economy in terms of trade.
Eurostat a unit specializing in the processing of transport
statistics. Their exclusion would therefore be regret-
table, insofar as it is necessary to assess and pinpoint
2.2.2. The Committee thinks that it should be possible the trend in demand in this area, which is rather
to make use as soon as possible of the statistics collected. misconstrued by the authorities and public opinion.
Therefore the 5- and 8-month deadlines indicated in This trend will determine the need to adjust routes.

(1) Council Regulation (EC) No 322/97 of 17 February 1997

on Community statistics (OJ L 52, 22.2.1997, p. 1). (2) ESC opinion: OJ C 134, 24.5.1988, p. 7.
30.3.98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 95/35

3.3.2. There is also no reason to exclude vehicles used mittee would query whether the Community budget
by ‘public services’. The transport operations performed ought to bear Member States’ administrative costs.
by these vehicles are part of the general economic activity
of EU Member States. They are responsible for goods 3.5. The Committee would like the relevant socio-
movements which may be in competition with transport economic interest groups in each Member State to
operations covered by the draft regulation. be closely involved in the consultations on how to
implement the regulation.
3.3.3. On the other hand, the Committee approves
the option to exclude vehicles with a payload of less 4. Conclusions
than 3,5 tonnes or a maximum permissible laden weight
of less than 6 tonnes. In the light of the above comments, the Committee
would recommend that: However, there are grounds for asking — the objective of the regulation should be to improve
whether the maximum permissible laden weight should the reliability in time and space of the data collected
not be 3,5 tonnes, in keeping with the limit chosen by and their comparability with the data for other
the Council of Transport Ministers on 9 October 1997 transport modes;
in the common position on the new directive on
— attempts to achieve this objective should be based
admission to the occupation of road transport oper-
on a ‘functional’ intermodal approach to goods
ator (1) and the limit applicable to class C driving
licences. This choice should be based on a cost/benefit
analysis, bearing in mind the extra administrative — socio-economic interests in the Member States
workload for the firms in question. should be consulted on how to implement the
3.4. Article 10 of the regulation makes provision for — the data which road haulage firms are asked to
a financial contribution from the Community towards provide should be limited to the data which are
Member States’ costs. The Economic and Social Com- necessary and apposite for attaining the objective
set, namely to ensure the availability of information
necessary for the framing, monitoring, controlling
(1) ESC opinion: OJ C 287, 22.9.1997, p. 21. and evaluation of the common transport policy.

Brussels, 28 January 1998.

The President
of the Economic and Social Committee