The European Commission has recently published a draft proposal for a new regulation to bring light commercial vehicles within the scope of operator licensing.
Last year the Commission undertook a public consultation exercise and concluded that the present regulation was only partially effective in ensuring fair competition across the whole of the EU. The proposal is to amend the existing Regulation 1071/2009 in various areas including extending its provisions to light commercial vehicles.
The proposal is that the requirement to hold an operators’ licence will apply to light commercial vehicles. This will ensure that there is a minimum level of professionalism in the LCV sector and by making these operators subject to regulation, improve the fairness between this sector and those currently subject to operator licensing. The proposals only apply to those who use LCVs for hire and reward. Not all the requirements which currently need to be satisfied by a standard licence holder would be applicable to the LCV sector. They would need to satisfy the requirement to show that they had an effective and stable establishment in the country issuing the licence and that they were of appropriate financial standing. However, it is proposed that those operators who only operated LCVs would be subject to less vigorous financial requirements, with 1800 euros or equivalent needed for the 1st vehicle and 900 euros for each subsequent vehicle. The proposal excludes such operators from the mandatory requirements regarding transport managers, good repute and professional competence, although Member States could apply these provisions if they so wished
Whether or not the Commission’s proposals ever have any effect upon UK hauliers will, of course, depend upon the final outcome of the Brexit negotiations. In addition to the fair competition arguments, there are also road safety benefits in such vehicles being subject to regular inspections and daily defect reporting. The Department of Transport already has a best practice guide for van operators. If the UK adopted similar provisions it would, for the first time, bring part of the light commercial vehicle sector under regulatory control