IRU welcomes the recently published call for proposals released by the European Commission, committing €60 million to improve the safe and secure parking areas (SSTPAs) network across Europe.
The priorities for the investment will include development of new SSTPAs approximately every 100km along the TEN-T core road network and upgrades to the safety, security and services of existing rest areas.
Currently, there are only 300,000 available truck parking spaces in the European Union, a significant 100,000 shortfall of the total demand for overnight parking and regular rests. Only 7,000, or less than 3%, of the existing parking capacity, are certified and labelled safe and secure across the continent, where an independent check and audit has been undertaken to validate that the parking area has achieved a certain quality level.
IRU participated in an EU-funded study which revealed that the lack of SSTPAs is a major concern in the EU, with almost 90% of drivers and transport operators stating that the current parking supply is insufficient. The study defined the security, safety and service offer requirements needing to be met in order for a parking area to be certified as safe and secure. The standards, strongly supported by IRU, were adopted by the European Commission expert group on this topic in June this year and will be the basis for the new funding scheme.
The news from the European Commission represents a major first step in tackling this problem and improving conditions for long distance drivers across Europe. Of the total funding, €20 million will form part of proposals for the Connecting Europe Facility and €40 million will be under the Cohesion envelope. The announcement comes with the news that the Commission will be making a total of €1.4 billion funding available to support European Transport Infrastructure.
Matthias Maedge, General Delegate at IRU, commented: “We welcome the news from the Commission. Last year, in order to raise awareness on this issue, I invited members of the European Parliament to spend the night in a truck cabin to demonstrate first-hand that the truck is not the problem, rather it is the quality of parking infrastructure that needs improvement. In May, the social partners ETF and IRU met EU Transport Commissioner Bulc to call for making investments in SSTPAs a political and funding priority.”
The consequences of the lack of secure parking areas for truck drivers are extremely serious. The road transport industry is facing an acute driver shortage, with implications not only for transport operators and international organisations, but for economies and societies as a whole.
“If we are to tackle this issue and attract new talent into the industry, then improving working conditions – including safe and secure truck parking areas – is critical. The funding made available by the European Commission is a direct result of the hard work of IRU and its partners over the past two years and an important first step in the journey to improving working conditions in the road transport sector”, Matthias Maedge concluded.
IRU invites interested investors, including road transport and logistics companies, to a workshop on 7 November, which will be organised in partnership with its member organisation ESPORG and the European Commission. Participants will be able to learn from experts about the application procedure and funding modalities, where up to 85% funding is available for cohesion countries.