Ábalos: "Our priority is to protect the health of citizens and mitigate the economic and social effects of this health emergency"

The minister made this statement by videoconference, at a High-Level Meeting of the Transport Ministers of the European Union organized by the Croatian Presidency of the Council, through the Minister of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure, Oleg Butkovic, to work on a coordinated and effective response of transport policy makers to the challenges of the Coronavirus.

Ábalos has exposed the need for coordinated action, promoted by the European Commission, to guarantee a better development of the operations of international transport of goods between the Member States, and to address with absolute priority and urgency guarantee the freedom of transit of the transport of goods at European level, vital for economic activity and for the delivery of supplies to society, and without vetoing fleets and drivers from any country in the European Union.

To do this, the Spanish minister has proposed some measures:

  • Make European regulations on driving and rest times more flexible, including the possibility of rest in the cabin, so that it applies to all international transport.
  • Accept at European level the use of expired official permits and certificates during these dates, given the impossibility of being able to carry out the renewal (ADR, Carnet de Conducir, CAP, ITV, etc.). Extending this to the maritime mode.
  • Allow maximum flexibility in the traffic of heavy vehicles to facilitate the supply of all the necessary goods and establish mechanisms that guarantee the opening of service stations and rest areas with access to services, toilets and food purchases for drivers.
  • Address, immediately, the absolute need for the European Commission to have a common, reliable and up-to-date information point on all the land transport restrictions that are being established at the European Union level. Information that is available to road freight companies.
  • Undertake as a matter of urgency, in air transport, the amendment of the European Fringe Regulation to allow coordinators to exempt from the 80/20 rule slots not operated due to cancellations due to current circumstances.
  • Use the tools included in your "Investment Initiative in Response to Coronavirus" (CRII) and those that may be necessary, such as the flexibility of the entire system of state aid to establish ways for transport companies to have liquidity to In order to face the short-term financial crises linked to the Coronavirus crisis, with a broad vision of these needs and the instruments to be used.

In sum, according to Ábalos, "it is not only essential to adopt these measures at the European level, but also to take into account that all those taken by both the Commission and the member countries do not pose unaffordable obstacles to the transport of goods, and not only that, they must make their work as easy as possible in the best possible conditions. "

Measures of the Government of Spain against the Coronavirus

The head of the Department, in his speech to his European counterparts, recalled that, on March 14, the Government of Spain decreed for a period of 15 days, which can be extended by the Congress of Deputies, the State of Alarm throughout the country, to face the health crisis caused by COVID-19.

This declaration, according to the minister, "has brought serious limitations to the freedom of movement of citizens and to economic activity throughout the country, in line with the recommendations and obligations issued by the health authorities."

Within this framework, Ábalos has presented the measures that are being adopted in the face of the pandemic and that have a direct implication on the transport sector, starting with the closure of land borders on the 16th, except for the transport of goods, allowing the return of its residents. In addition to the restrictions, for 15 days, on air and sea passenger connections with Italy since March 11, and the prohibition on the arrival of cruise ships from any port.

Regarding internal transport, the minister has highlighted the restrictions on the entry of passengers by air and sea implanted in our extra-peninsular territories for travelers from the Peninsula, both to Ceuta and Melilla, and to the archipelagos of the Canary Islands and Islands. Balearic Islands, coordinated at all times with the corresponding autonomous authorities.

Regarding freight traffic, Ábalos stressed that no restrictions have been established, "on the contrary, we are taking measures to make these traffics more flexible and easier, which are essential in these difficult times." These measures are those that the minister has requested that they be extrapolated to the rest of the States of the European Union.

Lastly, Ábalos emphasized that "extraordinary measures in the economic and yesterday approved the largest mobilization of economic resources in the history of Spanish democracy to face the economic impact of the coronavirus. "The minister highlighted the need for the determined support and leadership of the Commission so that the Coronavirus crisis and its economic consequences are temporary and do not last over time.

Transport Commissioner

After listening to all the ministers, the Commissioner has proposed the creation of a common platform for updated information and coordination of measures affecting transport, with focal points in each Member State and a specific working group in the Commission. Likewise, he recalled the importance of keeping certain land transport corridors open in any case for the supply of basic and health products and thanked the support for the proposal to make the Regulation of slots more flexible.

In addition, the head of the community has announced that today guidelines will be sent on the interpretation of passenger rights in aviation in the context of this crisis. The common platform may serve to coordinate State responses and decide on additional measures depending on the evolution of the crisis. The Presidency is committed to continuing to hold such meetings on a regular basis.

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