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IRU adopts positions on key EU proposals for the digital economy
EU | Brussels

IRU adopts positions on key EU proposals for the digital economy

7 Jun 2022 · Innovation

IRU calls for improved access to data, better control of its use, and for cautious use of EU legislation when dealing with self-employed workers.

At the joint IRU passenger and goods transport meeting held last week, members adopted positions on two key EU digitalisation proposals, the Data Act and the Platform Workers Directive.

The primary goal of the Data Act proposal, submitted by the European Commission to the EU legislators earlier this year, is to set harmonised rules on fair access to and use of data generated by products marketed in the EU. The proposal aims to establish a harmonised framework that specifies who, in addition to the data holder (manufacturer or provider of related services), has a right to access data generated by products or related services, under what conditions and on what basis. Although it is a cross-sectoral proposal, this is specifically important for mobility and freight operators given the amount of data that road transport vehicles generate. 

“IRU has signalled for years the necessity of regulating data flows, in particular in a business-to-business (B2B) context” says Raluca Marian, IRU Director EU Advocacy. “Transport operators generate large amounts of data, either through their activities or via their vehicles. They have notoriously lacked visibility into how that data has been processed, used, re-used by data holders, and passed on to third parties. In turn, this has created a lack of trust, which is harmful for a digital economy.” 

While personal data has benefitted from a level of protection under the general data protection legislation (GDPR), no equivalent system has covered business-generated data so far. This has prevented operators from confidently contributing to an EU data economy, as also stated in the joint statement of the key transport stakeholders of all modes issued in 2020

While welcoming the numerous positive aspects, IRU calls for additional improvements for the Data Act to fully achieve its potential, such as: 

  • clarifying users’ access to processed data with regards to raw and processed data; 
  • requiring the explicit consent of users for further re-use of data by the data holder and/or for further passing on information to third parties; and
  • recognising the right of users to seek compensation in case of data holders’ inappropriate sharing of data with third parties; 

The European Commission’s legislative proposal on Platform Workers aims to address the employment classification of persons working through digital labour platforms, including in cross-border situations. Its goal is to ensure that people working through digital platforms, in particular those classified as self-employed, are granted the correct employment status. 

The proposal provides a list of control criteria for checking whether the platform is an employer. If the platform meets at least two of these criteria, it would be legally presumed to be an employer. Those who are recognised as employees after correct determination of their employment status, will enjoy labour rights and gain access to social protection. 

“As a responsible social partner for the road transport sector, IRU fully supports workers' rights, fair working conditions, and access to necessary labour and social rights protections for all workers, including platform workers” says Raluca Marian, IRU Director EU Advocacy.

“However, we are also aware of the local nature of transport facilitated by platforms, and of the national rules and traditions regarding the classification of workers as self-employed or employees. According to the subsidiarity principle governing EU law making, decisions should be made at the level closest to the citizen. Moreover, depending on the EU legislators, the risk exists that this proposal will hit many small local businesses, such as taxi dispatch centres. Similarly, the proposal might even expand to cover all brick-and-mortar companies that use digitalisation to some extent in selecting their contractors. This should be avoided.” 

IRU considers that a non-binding recommendation, interpretation or guidelines respecting the principle of subsidiarity would be a better approach to reflect the local nature of the majority of digital labour platforms. In any case, a more accurate definition of digital labour platforms and a narrower scope are key to avoid the risks raised above. 

7 Jun 2022
Advocacy, Digitalisation, Trade facilitation and transit
7 Jun 2022
Advocacy, Digitalisation, Trade facilitation and transit