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There is finally clarity: anyone who drives over the border with a combination heavier than 40 tons can expect a fine. The government in Paris has thus put an end to the confusion surrounding cross-border transport to France.

From January 1, 2022, the limit will be a maximum of 40 tons. 44 tons is only allowed for intermodal transport. Anyone who exceeds this and is caught can expect a fine of at least 135 euros. In France, since 2013, a maximum weight for trucks of 44 tons has been applied. In Belgium, the maximum is also 44 tons. Since then, however, European rules have continued to apply to cross-border transport, allowing a maximum of 40 tons.

Unfair competition

However, this distinction was not always clear. According to the trade association, shippers took advantage of that confusion by requiring carriers to drive to France with 44-tonne combinations. Some transport companies took that gamble and others did not, which, according to TLN, had created unfair competition.

European rules

Since 1996 it has been regulated in the EU that the maximum weight for a truck is 40 tons. 44 tons is only allowed in combined transport, under strict conditions. The EU directive allows member states to apply higher weight limits within their own borders. In the Netherlands, for example, a maximum of 50 tons applies and in France a limit of 44 tons. In the Benelux, cross-border transport with a weight higher than 40 tons is allowed, but not in most European countries.

Validity of the legislation is disputed

With this legislation you can ask some questions about the validity. In the European Union, a European directive can be imposed on the member states, but this directive can NOT be invoked by the EU against an individual. This essential principle of European law has been woven into the DNA of the European project, at least since the Ratti judgment of the European Court of Justice of 5 April 1979…

As a result, it is illegal to impose any fine on a haulier on certain road vehicles in traffic within the Community, on the maximum permitted dimensions in national and international traffic, and on the maximum authorized weights in international traffic!

If Belgium, like France on its territory, allows transport on its own territory up to 44 tons/5 axles, it goes without saying that cross-border transport up to 44 tons between these two countries is also allowed…

And for good reason:

  • In the Belgian law directive 96/53 was transposed into the Royal Decree of 15 March 1968 containing general regulations on the technical requirements to be met by cars, their trailers and their safety accessories. Points 3.2.3 and 3.2.4 of Article 32 bis of this Royal Decree set the maximum authorized mass for combinations of vehicles with 5 axes on 44 tons.
  • In the French law, without forgetting to refer to Directive 96/53, Decree No. 2012-1359 of 4 December 2012 on the maximum weight allowed for motorized road vehicles, is devoted to the principle of 44 tons on 5 axes since January 1, 2013.

This vision has already been shared by the IDIT ('institut du droit international des transports') and has also been endorsed by the French Association of Road Freight Transporters (AUTF) and the Walloon Union of Companies ('UWE'). Now the French professional association of the chemical industry ('France Chimie') is also speaking publicly in the same sentence.

Source: Nieuwsblad Transport & UPTR

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