Actions brought before the EU Court of Justice jointly with the Ministry of Justice against the Mobility Package
The Republic of Lithuania brought two actions before the Court of Justice of the European Union (the CJEU) against the provisions of the Mobility Package potentially contradicting the law of the European Union (the EU). At the same time, interim measures were requested: suspension of the application of the current provisions until the resolution of the case before the CJEU.
It is the first time for Lithuania to initiate such action before the CJEU and dispute the regulations and directives adopted by the European Parliament and the Council under the legislative procedure. The actions concerning the Mobility Package were prepared by the law firm Ellex Valiunas jointly with the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania.
By the first action, Lithuania contests the provisions of the Mobility Package stipulating the requirement to return a vehicle to the company’s activity centre every 8 weeks and the “cooling off” period of 4 days for cabotage, i.e. an additional restriction for internal movement. Lithuania believes that the EU legislator has failed to specify any objective reasons to justify the necessity of such provisions. Furthermore, EU institutions have not performed the impact assessment of such provisions, although the impact assessment is usually necessary in adopting EU legal acts. Ramūnas Petravičius, partner and Head of Dispute Resolution Practice at Ellex Valiunas emphasises that the adopted provisions in dispute potentially disregard the right of the peripheral EU states, Lithuania included, to enjoy equal competitive conditions within the transport industry. “This results in fragmentation of the transport market and discrimination of carriers of peripheral Member States. Potential incompatibility of these provisions with the EU environmental protection and climate change policy is equally important – the disputed requirements will undoubtedly increase intensity and pollution of transport corridors”, the attorney states. The European Commission has publicly expressed its concerns in particular regarding the environmental risks, too.
The second contest of the provisions of the Mobility Package to apply the rules of posting of workers to cross-border and cabotage operations. The posting rules will not be further applied to cross-border bilateral transport. In Lithuania’s opinion, such distinction of cross-border and cabotage operations results in different rules and social guarantees to workers, although the nature of work they perform is the same.
Lithuania also disagrees with the requirement of mandatory return of a driver to his place of residence or the company’s activity centre every four weeks without providing him the right to choose spending of his rest time in any other place. Lithuania believes that this provision potentially restricts the worker’s fundamental freedom of movement and the right to dispose of their free time.
Finally, the term of coming into force of Regulation 2020/1054 included in the Mobility Package is contested – by decision of the EU legislator the provisions came into force in August of this year, however, no infrastructure necessary for the application of the Regulation is yet available. This is recognised by the European Commission, too.
In view of the scope and complexity of the issues covered by the actions, the process before the CJEU can last for about two years. The package was also appealed against by Hungary, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Malta.
The actions are expected to enable Lithuania to defend the interests of workers employed in transport companies, transport companies and other persons related to cargo transport. The Ellex Valiunas lawyers representing Lithuania have a wealth of hands-on experience in representing the interests of their clients and the state before the General Court and the Court of Justice as well as direct experience with the lawmaking processes of the EU, have represented clients before all EU institutions and in cases regarding the interpretation and application of the EU’s substantive law, and are continuously involved in legislative processes as part of governmental bodies at a national level.