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Perverse effects of European deregulation: the case of road freight transport



ID: <10.4000/sdt.23921>·DOI: <10.4000/sdt.23921>


The transportation of freight by truck has been fully deregulated and opened to competition in the European Union, without any quotas or restrictions since 1July 1998. This deregulation has caused problems, mainly due to the delay in adopting common fiscal and social measures, road checks and sanctions for firms that commit offenses. Unscrupulous companies have used this legal vacuum in the EU to factitiously “outsource” activities and dodge national rules and regulations about taxes, labour relations and welfare. As a result, working conditions have worsened as barriers have been lifted. By definition, turnover is high among wage-earners. Truck drivers, semi-skilled, have become interchangeable on the EU marketplace. They can be profitably replaced with drivers from eastern Europe (Poland, Romania, Bulgaria), who are much cheaper and less protected. The spread of such practices is a cause of concern for labour organisations in Europe. Shipping by truck is a textbook case for analysing how the EU is trying to counter the devious effects arising out of the deregulation of a branch of the economy.

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