June 02
2020
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21st May 2020
Covid-19 Internal Market

Transport and COVID-19: Council adopts temporary flexibility for licences and port services

The Council of the European Union recently approved a mandate for the Council Presidency to negotiate with the European Parliament four legislative proposals designed to provide flexibility, ease the administrative burden, and reduce financial costs for operators and authorities in the transport sector. These proposals affect the aviation, rail, road, and shipping sectors, further to proposals made by the European Commission.

The Council has therefore decided (by written procedure) on measures to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 in the context of the supply chain and transportation, referring to the ‘heavy burden’ on transport operators, who may find it difficult to fulfil certain administrative formalities before the relevant deadlines.

It has decided to allow, by means of two regulations:

  • the validity of certain certificates (such as the certificate of competence required under Directive 2003/59) and licences (see Directive 2006/126) for transport by road, rail and water to be extended;
  • for the rules on charging ships for using ports (required under Regulation 2017/352) to be relaxed in line with the principle of proportionality, by waiving, suspending, reducing or deferring charges for port users due between 1 March 2020 and 31 October 2020, which must be done in a transparent, objective and non-discriminatory way;
  • for driving licences, roadworthiness tests for motor vehicles (as required by Directive 2014/45), and boat-masters’ certificates; and
  • for periodic checks in the road, rail, inland navigation and shipping sectors to be postponed temporarily.

The first regulation lays down ‘specific and temporary measures in view of COVID-19 outbreak and concerning the validity of certain certificates, licences and authorisations and the postponement of certain checks and training in certain areas of transport legislation’. The second is an amending regulation (of Regulation 2017/352), ‘so as to enable managing bodies or competent authorities to provide flexibility in respect of the levying of port infrastructure charges in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak’.

The Council states that it has taken into account the need for mutual recognition in this context in drawing up its decision, to ensure the continued functioning of the internal market and cross-border activities, describes the measures as temporary, and considers that these measures contribute to legal certainty.

The European Parliament already voted on these measures 15 May 2020, and the two regulations are expected to enter into force some time next week.

Proposals for further transport emergency legislation (aviation and the fourth railway package) are still being processed.

For more details, read the current form of the text for the first regulation here, and the second amending regulation here. Read the Council’s press release here, and for more general information about travel and transport during the COVID-19 pandemic, click here for the Commission’s guidance and Communications.

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