Germany's minimum wage demand for visiting LGV drivers challenged by European Commission

The European Commission has launched an infringement procedure against Germany over its recent attempts to apply a requirement on visiting haulage firms to pay their drivers its domestic minimum wage.

While supporting the introduction of a minimum wage in Germany (currently €8.50/hour), the EC said it considered the application of the Minimum Wage Act to all transport operations that touch German territory “restricts the freedom to provide services and the free movement of goods in a disproportionate manner”.

The UK’s two trade assocations have both welcomed the EC’s move. FTA international manager Don Armour said that Germany, which initially applied the requirement to all vehicles, including those transiting the country, but has since restricted it to just those collecting or delivering to Germany itself, should “call a halt on it altogether until such times as the EC has finally decided”.

“It has been administratively cumbersome and a lot of our members got very grumpy about it in the early days,” he added. “Returns on investment are low enough as it is without such an undue burden on transport operators.”

RHA head of international affairs Peter Cullum described the German scheme as “pure bureaucracy”, adding that due to current exchange rates, anyone paying the UK minimum wage was currently meeting its requirements.

Any move by other member states to impose such schemes – France, for example, has already begun considering something similar - could ultimately result in a huge amount of paperwork, he warned. “If you compound it to every member state demanding a statement that you’re compliant with the national minimum wage of the country you’re visiting, then suddenly you have a very large number of forms and declaration going around Europe,” he said.

The German authorities now have to months in which to respond to the EC.