The European Commission is looking at the potential for further liberalisation of the European road freight market.
It has started a series of meetings with the various stakeholders in preparation for a report next year on the state of the European haulage market.
Under current cabotage regulations, operators may carry our three cabotage operations within seven days of unloading an international transport consignment.
The Commission must carry out an assessment by 2013 of the market situation for road haulage.
In particular it must look at whether conditions such as effectiveness of controls, employment conditions in the profession, and enforcement of social rules have progressed to a point where further market opening can be considered.
It points out that almost a quarter of all HGV vehicle-km are run empty. Loosening the cabotage rules would open the way to improve load optimisation.
The Commission also argues that by giving domestic hauliers a competitive advantage on their own markets, it also distorts competition in the internal market.
Commission vice-president Siim Kallas wants a high-level group of independent academic experts to deliver their assessment on the situation of the internal market for road haulage by May 2012. The Commission will take this assessment into account in its report to be issued in 2013. If appropriate, this report will be accompanied by a legislative proposal to further open up cabotage.