Road cabotage in the light of the new rules introduced by Regulation 2020/1055

By ASLA - Associazione degli Studi Legali Associati

di Studio Mordiglia

Genova - Road cabotage occurs when a haulier registered in an EU Member State carries out a national transport service in another Member State. This activity, as is well known, can only be carried out within the limits and under the conditions laid down by Regulation (EC) No. 1072/2009, most recently amended by Regulation 2020/1055, in force since 21 February 2022.

The amendments provided for by the new regulation leave unchanged the main limit of cabotage operations, according to which
(i) once the goods carried in the course of an international carriage have been delivered, hauliers are authorised to carry out up to three cabotage operations and

(ii) the last unloading in the course of a cabotage operation before leaving the host Member State must take place within seven days from the last unloading carried out in the context of the international carriage.

However, with effect from 21 February last, hauliers are no longer permitted to carry out cabotage operations in the same Member State with the same vehicle or, in the case of a vehicle combination, with the motor vehicle of the same combination, within four days of the end of their cabotage operation in that Member State. A transitional period has therefore been introduced before which no new cabotage operations can be carried out, in order to prevent systematic cabotage (so-called "cooling-off period").

It is also worth mentioning the new Art. 5 of Reg. 1071/2009, also amended by Reg. 2020/1055, which introduced a new provision that, although not necessarily related to cabotage, requires new organisational burdens for the haulier. According to this new provision, the haulier, in order to comply with the establishment requirement, will have to organise the activity of his fleet in such a way as to ensure that the vehicles at the disposal of the undertaking and used in international transport return to one of the places of business in the Member State of establishment at the latest eight weeks after departure. This is clearly a rule aimed at combating the phenomenon of "letterbox companies" and promoting the effective operation of haulage companies in the Member States, but it imposes, in any case, additional time limits to those already provided for cabotage.

Lastly, Regulation 1055/2020/EU has also intervened on the issue of documentary evidence of international transport and cabotage presented in electronic format. In this regard, it should be noted that Italy has not yet ratified the Additional Protocol to the CMR Convention of 20 February 2008 on E-CMR, despite the fact that its ratification was indicated as one of the measures to implement the PNRR. Pending this general implementation, Regulation 1055/2020/EU amended Art. 8 of Regulation 1072/2009/EC, providing that the Community haulier carrying out cabotage operations in another Member State may provide proof of the performance of the previous international carriage of entry and of the individual cabotage operations also by electronic transmission by means of an "revisable structured format which can be used directly for storage and processing by computers, such as an electronic consignment note (e-CMR) under the Additional Geneva Protocol to the Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road (CMR) concerning the Electronic Consignment Note of 20 February 2008".

However, this provision will only be fully implemented when the European Commission issues the implementing regulations provided for in Regulation 1056/2020/EU on electronic freight transport information (eFTI), identifying the technical specifications relating to the platforms that can be used to transmit data to the authorities.

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