Eurlings, Minister for Transport and Bla-Bla-Bla

25 July 2008

Eurlings, Minister for Transport and Bla-Bla-Bla

Emile Roemer

Emile RoemerAnnually, in a number of places in the Netherlands, trucker-runs are organised, trucker-runs being, in this case, rides, just for fun, involving long convoys of lorries, a special event for people with disabilities, including children. Drivers give up their free day at the weekend and the owners often make their vehicles available for free. But these trucker-runs are now under threat. Because the digital tachograph registers this free time spent driving as work time, the drivers cannot work on the Monday following the event. For this sort of voluntary work an exception should surely be made, because the event gives the drivers more of a positive stimulus than the feeling of having done tiring work. "It's fantastic to see these children so happy to be sitting in your truck, they look forward to it all year" is how the drivers sum this up.

So in April I asked Transport Minister Camiel Eurlings to deal with the matter as quickly as he could. He didn't really want to bother at first, so I presented a motion during a debate obliging him to do so, which won support across the house. Eurlings should immediately take the matter up at European level in order to have it put to rights, the motion said. A good thing too, because after the holiday the first trucker-runs are scheduled to take place. Now, on 23rd July and so a good three months later, we are still curious to know what the minister has done. I quote from the letter I received from him this week:

“At official level preparations have already been made for a meeting with the European Commission over the possible exemption for trucker-runs. The fact that representatives from my ministry are prepared to meet on the matter has already been expressed.

I am attempting to find a workable solution for all parties in agreement with interested organisations in the transport sector and with the European Commission”

Yes, read it again and read it well. Preparations made... preparedness expressed to meet... attempting to find a workable solution...

It's excruciating that a minister should have the nerve to send such a letter at all. What it actually says is that he hasn't actually done a damned thing. But yes, to write that in a letter to Parliament is at least honest!

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