The European Commission’s proposal to revise the driving licence rules provides the possibility to remove some of the major barriers to attracting more talent to the EU pool of drivers, according to the International Road Transport Union.
The European Council supports the European Commission’s proposal to allow accompanied driving and training for truck drivers (categories C and C1) as of 17 years old.
This will open the possibility for young graduates of vocational schools to safely gain driving experience under the supervision of an experienced driver. The downside is that Member States will be allowed to set different national practices.
IRU Director of EU Advocacy Raluca Marian said, “The Council’s position is both sweet and sour for truck drivers.
“On the one hand, most Member States have realised that allowing accompanied driving for 17-year-olds is not about decreasing the minimum driving age, as some organisations have misleadingly presented. It just helps to capture young school graduates by setting a form of paid training under the scrutiny of experienced professional drivers.
“The sour part is that the Council has made this good measure optional for Member States. We would like to see this level across the EU, as it will be for young private car drivers, since professional drivers have comparatively more training and earn their living from driving, making them much safer by default.”
Another notable achievement is that the Council has embraced the Commission’s proposal for an EU mechanism to recognise third-country driving licences. Currently, each Member State follows its own practices.
“Our sector needs more drivers. While we prioritise local talent, including young drivers and women, the gap is so big that we cannot overcome the shortage without third-country drivers,” highlighted Raluca Marian.
“We are happy that the Council has agreed to have a harmonised EU practice for the recognition of foreign professional driving licences. However, as IRU has repeatedly stated, this only solves half of the problem. A professional driver cannot drive in the EU unless it also has a recognised Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC). Therefore, despite its efforts, the Council has failed to solve the issue,” she added.
Unfortunately, the Council has also missed the opportunity to meet the needs of collective passenger transport, such as removing the arbitrary 50-kilometre limit for professional bus and coach drivers under 21 years old.
“While there has been some progress, important solutions are missing from the Council’s general approach. We hope the European Parliament will bring a better version of the driving licence rules to the trilogue negotiations,” concluded Raluca Marian.