Subject: COVID-19 crisis/Road transport & working time of persons performing mobile road transport activities for perishable food: application of article 14.2 (Regulation (EC) No 561/2006)

Dear President Von der Leyen,

FruitVegetablesEUROPE, the European Fruit and Vegetables Association, is writing to you to express its deep concern regarding the COVID-19 crisis and its negative impact on the road transport for perishable food, particularly on fresh fruit and vegetables.

Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 lays down rules on driving times, breaks and rest periods for drivers engaged in the carriage of goods and passengers by road in order to harmonise the conditions of competition between modes of inland transport, especially with regard to the road sector, and to improve working conditions and road safety.

Article 14.2 of this Regulation states that: “In urgent cases Member States may grant a temporary exception for a period not exceeding 30 days, which shall be notified immediately to the Commission”. This article is designed to allow Member States to deal with situations that present exceptional and sudden circumstances that are unavoidable and cannot be foreseen, in which it is unexpectedly impossible to apply the provisions of the Regulation in its entirety for a short period of time.

The effects caused by the spread of the Covid-19 clearly constitute exceptional circumstances, having an impact on the mobility and transportation in the EU. Therefore, the current Covid-19 crisis should be considered to constitute an urgent case of those mentioned in the section 2, of article 14 of EC Regulation No. 561/2006.

In that sense, we want to inform you that the Government of Spain has just adopted a resolution (16/03/20), making use of this article. The resolution states:

1. Temporarily exempt merchandise transport operations affected by these circumstances of compliance with the rules established in articles 6.1 and 8.6 of the Regulation No. 561/2006.
2. The exceptions provided in the first section will apply to drivers who carry out freight operations throughout the national territory (Spain). These exemptions will be applicable from 14th March 2020 until 28th March 2020, both included.

FruitVegetablesEUROPE considers that the EU and Members States must take exceptional measures to guarantee that perishable food continue to flow in the EU internal market. This is the only way to prevent shortages of fresh food, particularly fresh Fruit and Vegetables, in the EU. Nevertheless, these kinds of measures will be effective only if they are coordinated at European level.

Therefore, FruitVegetablesEUROPE urge the European Commission to call on EU Members States to apply article 14.2, like the Spanish Government.

Thanking you in advance for the attention you will give to this request, we remain at your disposal for any further information you might need with regards to this issue.

Yours sincerely

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