The European Parliament has today passed a resolution calling for the harmonisation of fines that member states impose on lorry drivers who breach EU working time rules and fail to take adequate rest breaks between journeys. Given the goings on with the new coalition government in the UK and the perpetual trials and tribulations of the euro, this may seem like small-fry but it does nonetheless illustrate why the EU and the European Parliament, in particular, can be so infuriating.
The EPs press release states:
Lorry drivers who break rules on working time, rest periods or working conditions should pay clear and comparable penalties across the EU, says a resolution adopted by Parliament on Tuesday. The resolution criticises wide disparities in EU Member States' fines for similar offences and calls for closer harmonisation and co-ordination of penalties, in the interests of road safety and fair competition.
It laments that "Fines for exceeding the daily driving time by more than two hours are currently ten times higher in Spain (€4,600) than in Greece (€400)."
While no one wants to trivialise the potential damage that could be done to people's lives by lorry drivers who break the rules by acting irresponsibly, the language and logic used by the Parliament is simply crazy.
Since when has breaking the law been a 'competition'? Are MEPs seriously suggesting that lorry drivers are making a conscious decision to look for the EU country with the lowest fines and then choosing to break the law? And even if this were the case, why can't those national governments of the member states with the most lawless lorry drivers be trusted to implement a system of fines that they, rather than MEPs, deem appropriate?
The proposed resolution goes to a full vote in June and we would hope that by then enough MEPs see that this is a ludicrous proposal that should be knocked on the head and never seen or heard of again.