Tuesday, December 14, 2004

"Unity in diversity"

While the truckers on Cyprus may be getting extremely fed up with having to conform with EU law (see link), spare a thought for UK truck and PSV operators who, from 1 January this year are also going to be subject to the tender mercies of our new masters in Brussels.

The particular impost they are facing is the requirement to be able to demonstrate that they have "sufficient finances to safely maintain their vehicles and to properly administer the business."

This is set on a sliding scale, related to the number of vehicles operated, with national operators currently being required to show they have available £4,300 for the first vehicle and £2,400 for every vehicle thereafter.

Sensibly, the cash backing required for international operators is set somewhat higher, reflecting the additional costs that might be incurred when operating abroad. Thus, operators must have £5,400 for the first vehicle and £3,000 for each additional vehicle.

But no more is this sensible arrangement to apply. Under EU Directive 96/26/EC, as amended by Directive 98/76/EC, from 1 January not only are the rates going up but both national and international operators must be able to show the same level of financial backing.

This is because the EU will not accept anything that smacks of "national discrimination" and it therefore requires all operators throughout EU member states to be treated in the same fashion.

Thus, UK operators, hitherto required only to have £4,300 in reserve for their first vehicles, are now required to have £6,200. For every additional vehicle they have to find another £3,400, up from £2,400.

The provision applies to all goods vehicles over 3.5 tons and all PSVs, so a small business operating a fleet of, say, ten medium-sized vans for local deliveries round Burnley (or wherever) will have to keep a cash reserve of £36,800 – up from £25,900 and exactly the same as a Greek or Spanish operator running a fleet of ten juggernauts into the UK.

This may be a small thing but it is yet another illustration of the utter fatuity of the vacuous and utterly dishonest European Union motto: "Unity in diversity".

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