IRU, together with transport operators H.Essers and Samat and its Polish member ZMPD, met with European Commissioner Nicolas Schmit to discuss current experiences and practices regarding the employment of third-country drivers across the EU. The industry highlighted both positive and negative experiences, with a constructive focus on solutions to minimise negative cases.
The EU is already missing 500,000 professional drivers and it’s forecast to get much worse without significant action, in large part because less than 5% of drivers are under 25 years old. The ever-increasing shortage of drivers cannot be filled by local talent pools. Third-country drivers are needed to fill the gap.
IRU EU Advocacy Director Raluca Marian said, “Our focus first and foremost is to attract more local talent to the driver profession, including young people and women.
“However, given the extent of driver shortages in the EU, coupled with the fact that many drivers are nearing the age of retirement, we warmly welcome Commissioner Schmit’s interest in ensuring a positive experience for third-country drivers and finding solutions to support the harmonious application of EU transport rules. Collaboration between all stakeholders is crucial to prevent any abuses from taking place, both now and in the future.”
The transport company executives present during the meeting – Bob Van Steenweghen (H.Essers), Florence Dupasquier (Samat), Mike Dautzenberg (H.Essers) – shared their companies’ best practices for the recruitment of third-country drivers and their working conditions. IRU member ZMPD offered an overview of how third-country drivers are registered and treated in Poland.
“An obvious conclusion is that EU transport operators are already employing a significant number of third-county drivers throughout the EU and that negative experiences cannot be generalised. Companies like those present at the meeting today employ and treat third-country drivers like any EU driver. However, negative experiences in the market cannot be ignored and we are happy to rely on Commissioner Schmit’s support to find solutions,” said Raluca Marian.
As an immediate action, IRU welcomes official channels for the integration of third-country nationals in the EU, such as the EU project on third-country workers that the European Commission will launch soon, supported by Commissioner Schmit.
Furthermore, the development of an EU harmonised and transparent scheme to recognise third-country professional drivers’ skills and certificates, provided that they meet EU driver training and road safety standards, is a crucial step to ensure the recognition of their skills and rights across all Member States. Such measures would mitigate the risk of exploitation and mistreatment of third-country drivers.
“We also particularly appreciate Commissioner Schmit’s practical position on a very important aspect of drivers’ working conditions: the remuneration of drivers posted outside of their EU home country. Confronted with 27 different remuneration systems for road transport, international carriers have difficulties understanding how to pay their employees when they drive throughout the EU. Commissioner Schmit’s openness to a potential EU remuneration calculator for posted drivers is highly appreciated,” concluded Raluca Marian.