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Europe

Germany Opposes EU-wide Rules for Heavy Trucks

EU transportation ministers on Friday discussed setting EU-wide rules for banning commercial trucks on Europe’s highways on Sundays. Germany and France fear newly harmonized regulations could weaken the ban.

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Seven EU countries currently ban commercial trucks from the roads on Sundays.

Currently big commercial trucks are banned from Germany’s roads on Sundays and on Saturdays during the summer. Although several other EU nations also have bans in place, the times and policies vary considerably.

The European Commission has for years pushed for common rules to be established. Officials in Brussels are concerned that different policies create imbalances in the EU’s internal market and hinder the free transport of goods. But Germany’s Deputy Transportation Minister Ralf Nagel on Friday made clear that Berlin would oppose the measure at all cost.

“We will never agree to a Europe-wide regulation in this matter,” Nagel said in Brussels according to the Associated Press. “This isn’t just any old matter, rather it’s an important question of national interest.”

Berlin fears a new EU-wide policy will water down its own strict rules regulating heavy truck traffic on the weekends. Since Germany will be at the heart of a expanded EU, Berlin is concerned that heavy truck traffic will surge in coming years, endangering road safety and the environment.

Pressure on Luxembourg

However, in order to torpedo Brussels plans, Germany will have to convince some other countries to join in opposing the initiative. Currently only France and Austria are also against the EU regulation of commercial truck traffic. Berlin and the other countries opposed have put pressure on tiny Luxembourg to help them achieve the necessary blocking minority in the EU Council of Ministers.

Georg Posaner, a spokesman for the Austrian delegation, said late Friday that Luxembourg would back their position in Brussels. But there was no decision whether the EU presidency, currently represented by Italy, would put the matter to a vote at the ministers’ meeting or whether it would be postponed.

Currently in Germany, heavy commercial trucks are banned from the roads from midnight to 10 p.m. on Sundays all year and during the summer months also from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays. Austria, France, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg and Spain also all have some sort of ban on Sundays.

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