The European Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee (TRAN) adopted today its position on the EU Driving Licence Directive, constituting a considerable step forward in eliminating crucial barriers discouraging entry into the bus and truck driver profession.
The European Commission’s proposal to revise the driving licence rules offers the possibility to remove some of the major barriers to attracting more talent to the EU pool of drivers. The road transport sector is missing about 600,000 bus, coach and truck drivers; and the trend is upward.
The European Parliament’s Transport Committee, which is the expert committee on the matter, defined its position today.
TRAN agreed on major reforms for professional driver licences, including the possibility of 17-year-old graduates to drive trucks accompanied by an experienced driver, the harmonised and easier recognition of third-country driving licences and training certificates, and the possibility granted to Member States to decrease the minimum age for bus drivers to 18, without a distance limit.
Accompanied driving scheme
In line with the Council, TRAN now supports an EU-wide accompanied driving scheme enabling 17-year-old truck drivers to safely gain practical driving experience and familiarity with the profession alongside an experienced driver.
IRU Director of EU Advocacy Raluca Marian said, “What the European Union needs is safe and properly trained drivers. For this to be possible, young professional candidates must be given the possibility to become familiar with professional daily operations and safety requirements.”
“Accompanied driving is not about decreasing the minimum driving age, as some organisations have misleadingly presented. It’s a training scheme under the scrutiny of experienced professional drivers which will incentivise young graduates who would simply opt for another profession without such an opportunity,” she added.
A notable achievement of TRAN is its vision to set the base for an easier recognition of the qualification and training of third-country professional drivers. Currently, each Member State follows its own practices, which in most cases are overly lengthy and cumbersome.
While the Council has already agreed to have a harmonised EU practice for the recognition of foreign professional driving licences, TRAN seeks to take it a step further and create the basis for a procedure to also recognise drivers’ Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) issued in third countries.
“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 welcome TRAN’s vision to provide third-country drivers with a complete set of recognition that would allow them to work in the EU. As IRU has repeatedly stated, recognising the licence of third-country drivers would only solve half of the problem. A professional driver cannot drive in the EU unless it also has a recognised CPC,” she added.
What about bus drivers?
Another major achievement is that TRAN met the needs of collective passenger transport by providing Member States the opportunity to remove the arbitrary 50-kilometre limit for professional bus and coach drivers under 21 years old.
It also clarified that 21, as opposed to the current 24, is the starting age for professional bus and coach drivers with full professional training.
With TRAN having adopted their position on the revision of the EU Driving Licence Directive, the industry now hopes for a positive outcome in the Parliament’s plenary as well as fruitful negotiations with the Council early next year.