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EU licence proposal helps truck driver shortage but ignores bus and coach
EU | Brussels

EU licence proposal helps truck driver shortage but ignores bus and coach

1 Mar 2023 · People

The European Commission’s proposal for the revision of the EU Driving Licence Directive has many promising aspects that can address the chronic shortage of drivers in the goods transport sector. But it falls completely short when it comes to passenger mobility.

The European Commission has published today its proposal for the EU Driving Licence Directive. The industry has been eagerly awaiting concrete solutions to one of the biggest threats to road transport operations: driver shortages.

IRU’s 2022 driver shortage report showed that some 600,000 drivers are missing in Europe, and forecasted it to reach almost 2 million by 2026 given current trends.

The predicted increase is due to an aging driver population, coupled with a low share of young drivers. Across the EU, only 6% of professional drivers are below 25 years old.

Minimum age

The revision of the EU driving licence provides the possibility to remove one of the major barriers to young people joining the profession: the gap between the age they finish school and when they are allowed to become professional drivers. Doing so also has the potential to facilitate the access of third-country drivers to the EU market, enlarging the EU driver pool.

Today’s proposal clarified beyond doubt that the minimum driving age for truck drivers is 18. This is a major positive step which has long been called for by the road transport industry.

The Commission also recommended allowing 17-year-olds to start training by accompanying experienced drivers and through apprenticeships. Such an amendment is not included for the passenger sector.

IRU EU Advocacy Director Raluca Marian said, “We welcome the European Commission’s proposal to give young people the chance to become truck drivers. This will go a long way in reducing the ‘school-to-wheel gap’.”

“Where the Commission’s proposal does fall woefully short is in passenger transport,” she added. “We see well trained 18-year-old men and women safely driving buses in some Member States, while in many others the minimum age is between 21 and 24.

“The proposal fails to set 18 as the unequivocal minimum driving age for bus and coach services. Consequently, it has taken no steps in addressing increasingly severe driver shortage issues that are hindering the collective mobility of EU citizens.”

Third-country drivers

On a positive note, IRU appreciates the European Commission being open to the sector’s call to enlarge the pool of drivers by facilitating third-country drivers’ access to the profession in the EU.

“The proposal opens a new avenue for the harmonisation of requirements on the recognition of driving licences from outside the EU. While the list of countries and concrete conditions must be further determined based on solid safety criteria, we already see a positive step in facilitating third-country citizens becoming professional drivers in the EU and complementing the EU talent pool,” said Raluca Marian.