France will enforce the 40-ton rule for cross-border traffic with Belgium

France has announced that they will start enforcing a European rule that limits cross-border traffic within the EU to 40 tons, despite the allowance of 44 tons on the French territory but also on the territory of the Benelux countries.

Based on European directive 96/53/EG, cross-border traffic is limited to 40 tons except for the road-leg of multimodal transport. Until recently, this rule has not been enforceable in France as the French legislation didn’t foresee any sanctions for this infraction. As the maximum allowed weight in France itself is 44 tons, just like the case in Belgium, cross-border traffic of 44 tons was condoned. But with a new addition to the French traffic law, this situation has now come to an end. This leads to the absurd situation that transport with a weight between 40 tons and 44 tons is legal in both Belgium and France, but if it is between these two countries, it is not legal.

When French police can logically deduce that a truck intends to cross the border, for example, based on the CMR, and that weight is above 40 tons but below 44 tons, a fine will be issued and the excess weight will need to be unloaded. This will apply not only to a truck at the actual border crossing. If the overweight truck is spotted on the French territory by the French police, they can stop the truck and fine the driver.

Furthermore, this responsibility is also transferred to the shipper, who can equally be held responsible.

Belgian traffic law has not adopted this European directive yet, thus, the reverse situation is not punishable at this time.

As soon as the new French legislation starts being applicable later this year, the French police can start enforcing it.

While applying the European legislation, France is using its rights. The only way to rectify this situation is by changing the European law. Despite several attempts in the past, this has not been successful.

Supply Chain Masters (Belgian Shippers’ Council), European Shippers’ Council, and the Royal Belgian Federation for Transport and Logistics Service Providers (FEBETRA) are working together to investigate possible remedies for the situation.