The EU is adopting certain rules for different transport sectors to help companies and authorities cope with the extraordinary circumstances created by the COVID-19 crisis.
More specifically, the Council adopted temporary measures enabling the extension of the validity of certain certificates and licences in the road, rail and waterborne transport. It also relaxed the rules on charging ships for the use of port infrastructures.
Enabling the extension of the validity of licences and certificates will lead to more flexibility and legal certainty. These are necessary to maintain supply chains and ensure continued mobility by road, rail, sea and inland waterways, while safeguarding safety and security.
The possibility of waiving port infrastructure charges will also help address the serious negative impact of the crisis on the shipping sector.
In addition, the regulation enabling the extension of the validity of certificates and licenses will support those transport operators, individuals, and national administrations that, are having difficulties fulfilling certain administrative formalities before the expiry of the relevant deadlines. This applies for instance to driving licences, roadworthiness tests for motor vehicles and boat-masters’ certificates.
Moreover, certain periodic checks in the road, rail, inland navigation, and shipping sectors will also be postponed temporarily, as they may not be feasible in current circumstances.
What is more, the text also considers the fact that, due tothe differences in the spread of the pandemic throughout Europe, some member states are able to continue to deliver specific licences or certificates, while others find it difficult or impossible to do so.
However, even if a country continues to issue licences itself, it will need to accept licences originating in another member state which has used the possibility of extending their validity. This will help ensure the smooth functioning of the internal market and continued cross-border activities.
The amendment to the port services regulation will contribute to the financial sustainability of ship operators in the context of the pandemic by providing flexibility to the existing rule that requires member states to ensure that a port infrastructure charge is levied. The amendment will give ports the possibility to waive, suspend, reduce or defer the charges for port users due between 1 March 2020 and 31 October 2020.
Both legal acts will enter into force the day after they are published in the EU Official Journal, which is expected to take place next week.