France intends to introduce an amendment to the law prohibiting driving with 44 tonnes of total weight at border crossings from the neighbouring countries.
Vehicle sizes and weights are regulated at the European level, but the Member States may deviate from these regulations in their own territory. In Belgium and in France a haulier can travel with 44 tonnes. But according to Directive 96/53/EC, it is not allowed to cross the border with more than 40 tonnes, except in the context of intermodal transport.
The French legislation does not foresee any sanctions for cross-border transport of 44 tonnes today. Some fines were issued in the past but were finally dismissed. Belgian carriers drive 44 tonnes to France, but many French carriers drive 44 tonnes to destinations within the Benelux. By the end of this year, the French Transport Ministry is going to present a decree emphasising that 44 tonnes are not allowed in cross-border operations but only in national transport and if an infringement takes place, it will be followed by a penalty.
Freija Fonteyn, the head of the legal department of Transport en Logistiek Vlaanderen (TLV), states that the extra 4 tonnes make a big difference, especially with the driver deficit and congestion. If France maintains 40 tonnes of total weight for cross-border traffic, TLV will demand the Flemish authorities to do the same to avoid unfair competition.