Access to the international market for coach & bus services

The freedom to provide services is a basic principle of the common transport policy and requires that carriers from all EU countries have access to international transport markets without discrimination on grounds of nationality or place of establishment. This regulation establishes the conditions for the international carriage of passengers by coach and bus within the EU by carriers for hire or reward.

This regulation merges Regulations Nos 684/92 and 12/98 into one single regulation to clarify and simplify the rules for the international carriage of passengers by road within the territory of the EU and the conditions under which non-resident carriers may operate national transport services within an EU country.

Freedom to provide services

A carrier is permitted to carry out regular international carriage services, including special regular services and occasional services by coach and bus, without discrimination on grounds of nationality or place of establishment if he:

is authorised in the EU country of establishment to undertake carriage by means of regular services in accordance with the market access conditions in national law;
fulfils the conditions within the EU rules on admission to the occupation of road passenger transport operator in national and international transport operations;
meets the legal requirements relating to EU standards for drivers and vehicles.

Community licence

International carriage of passengers by coach and bus is subject to a Community licence issued by the competent authorities of the EU country of establishment. The licence is issued in the name of the carrier for a renewable period of up to 10 years and is non-transferable. EU countries may also decide that the Community licence is valid for national transport operations.

Regular services subject to authorisation

The authorisations are issued in the name of the carrier for a period of up to five years and are non-transferable. However, an authorised carrier, with the consent of the competent authority of the EU country where the point of departure is located, may operate the service through a subcontractor. Authorisations are issued in agreement with the competent authorities of all the EU countries in whose territories passengers are picked up or set down. They must specify the type of service, the route, the stops and timetable, and the period of validity, and entitle their holder to operate regular services in the territories of all EU countries over which the routes of the service pass.

Authorisation, including for renewal and alteration of authorisation, will be granted unless:

the applicant cannot provide the necessary services with equipment directly available to him;
the applicant has not complied with national or international road transport legislation;
the conditions of authorisation have not been complied with in the case of an application for renewal;
an EU country decides that the service concerned would seriously affect the viability of a comparable service covered by one or more public service contracts;
an EU country decides that the principal purpose of the service is not the carriage of passengers between different EU countries.
Except in the case of force majeure, the operator of a regular service must take all measures to guarantee a transport service that fulfils the standards of continuity, regularity and capacity and complies with the conditions laid down by the competent authority.

Cabotage

Cabotage operations are authorised for the following services:

national road passenger services carried out on a temporary basis by a carrier in a host EU country;
the picking up and setting down of passengers within the same EU country in the course of a regular international service provided that cabotage is not the principle purpose of the service.

Controls and penalties

Carriers operating a regular service must issue either individual or collective transport tickets indicating the points of departure and arrival, the period of validity of the ticket, and the fare of transport.

In the event of a serious infringement of EU road transport legislation, the competent authorities of the EU country of establishment of the carrier concerned must take appropriate action, which may include a warning or the imposition of administrative penalties. If a non-resident carrier seriously infringes EU road transport legislation, the EU country in which the infringement is ascertained will send the competent authorities of the carrier’s EU country of establishment a description of the infringement, the category, type and seriousness of the infringement, and the penalties imposed. All serious infringements must be recorded in the national electronic register of road transport undertakings.

ACTS

Regulation (EC) No 1073/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 on common rules for access to the international market for coach and bus services, and amending Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 (OJ L 300, 14.11.2009, pp. 88–105)It entered into force on 4 December 2009.

Successive amendments to Regulation (EC) No 1073/2009 have been incorporated into the basic text. This consolidated version is for reference only.

Internal market and State aid — public passenger transport services by rail and road

Regulation (EC) No 1370/2007 on public passenger transport services by rail and by road

Known as the public service obligation (PSO) regulation, it sets out conditions under which transport operators can be compensated or given exclusive rights by public authorities to provide public transport services which are in the general interest but would otherwise not be commercially viable. By establishing public service obligations, authorities aim to ensure that passengers can access safe, efficient, attractive and high-quality public passenger transport services.
It repeals Council Regulations (EEC) No 1191/69 and (EEC) No 1107/70. It was last modified by Regulation (EU) 2016/2338.

KEY POINTS

The PSO regulation sets out:

an obligation for authorities to conclude public service contracts when they
give exclusive rights which entitle a public transport operator to provide certain public passenger transport services on a particular route or network or in a particular area, excluding all other operators and/or
give compensation to public transport operators to cover the costs incurred in providing public service obligations;
rules on how public service contracts must be awarded;
rules on how to calculate the amount of compensation.

Scope

The regulation applies to public passenger transport services by bus and by rail. However, EU countries can also apply it to public passenger transport by inland waterways and national sea waters.

Public service contracts and general rules

The authority which is competent for a given area must conclude a public service contract granting an operator an exclusive right and/or compensation in exchange for providing PSOs.
Obligations to apply maximum tariffs for all or certain categories of passengers may also be imposed via general rules, which apply to all operators without discrimination.

The authority grants compensation to offset the impact of the public service obligations on the operator’s costs and revenues.
The public service contracts (and general rules) define:
the public service obligations to be discharged;
the rules for calculating compensation and the nature and the scope of any exclusive rights;
overcompensation must be avoided;
how the costs linked to service supply (staff costs, energy, infrastructure, rolling stock, maintenance, etc.) should be allocated;
how revenue from the sale of tickets is to be allocated (whether it is kept by the operator, repaid to the authority, or shared).

The duration of public service contracts must not exceed 10 years for bus and coach services, and 15 years for rail or other track-based forms of transport.
Awarding public service contracts

Public service contracts must be awarded according to the rules of this regulation. However, for awarding certain passenger transport services by bus or tram, the public procurement procedures of Directives 2014/25/EC (see summary Public purchasing — rules for water, energy, transport and postal sectors) and 2014/24/EC apply (see summary Public contracts — setting out clear ground rules).
As a general rule, competent authorities must award public service contracts by transparent and non-discriminatory competitive procedures.

However, the obligation to award contracts by a competitive procedure does not apply:
where a local authority provides public transport services itself or assigns them to an internal transport operator (a separate body, which the local authority controls in a similar way to one of its own departments);
where the volume of the contract is modest
estimated average annual value of less than €1 million or
less than 300,000 kilometres of public passenger transport services;
where emergency measures are taken or contracts are imposed in response to actual or potential service interruptions.
Public service contracts in the rail sector

Regulation (EU) 2016/2338 has amended this regulation by introducing the principle of competitive award also for public service contracts in the railway sector, which was previously excluded. Long transition periods were allowed, to enable authorities and operators to adapt to the new rules.

Direct award of rail contracts remains possible in exceptional and well-defined circumstances, notably where:

it is justified by structural and geographical characteristics of the market and network (size, demand characteristics, network complexity, technical and geographical isolation, type of services); and
it would result in an improvement in quality of services or cost-efficiency, or both, compared to the previous contract;
the volume of the contract is modest
estimated average annual value less than € 7.5 million per year or
fewer than 500,000 kilometres.

Transition period

Unconditional, direct awards of rail public service contracts will no longer be possible as of 25 December 2023.

DOCUMENTS

Regulation (EC) No 1370/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2007 on public passenger transport services by rail and by road and repealing Council Regulations (EEC) Nos 1191/69 and 1107/70 (OJ L 315, 3.12.2007, pp. 1-13)

Successive amendments to Regulation (EC) No 1370/2007 have been incorporated into the original document. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.

It has applied since 3 December 2009, except for Article 5 on awarding of public service contracts, which applies from 3 December 2019.

Directive 2014/23/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 February 2014 on the award of concession contracts (OJ L 94, 28.3.2014, pp. 1-64)

Directive 2014/24/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 February 2014 on public procurement and repealing Directive 2004/18/EC (OJ L 94, 28.3.2014, pp. 65-242)

Directive 2014/25/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 February 2014 on procurement by entities operating in the water, energy, transport and postal services sectors and repealing Directive 2004/17/EC (OJ L 94, 28.3.2014, pp. 243-374)

Communication from the Commission on interpretative guidelines concerning Regulation (EC) No 1370/2007 on public passenger transport services by rail and by road (OJ C 92, 29.3.2014, pp. 1-21)

Interbus Agreement: the international occasional carriage of passengers by coach and bus

Agreement on the international occasional carriage of passengers by coach and bus (Interbus Agreement)

Decision 2002/917/EC — conclusion of the Interbus Agreement on the international occasional carriage of passengers by coach and bus

The agreement aims to achieve a corresponding degree of liberalisation to that attained under the Agreement on the international carriage of passengers by road by means of occasional coach and bus services (ASOR), signed in Dublin in May 1982.

The decision marks the conclusion of the agreement on behalf of the European Communities (now the EU).

KEY POINTS

The agreement applies to the international carriage of passengers, of any nationality, and to unladen journeys of the buses and coaches concerned with these services on the territories of the EU, and in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Republic of Moldova, Turkey and Ukraine.

The agreement:

governs traffic not only between the EU and the non-EU countries concerned but also between the non-EU countries themselves, thus establishing a degree of fiscal, social and technical harmonisation in addition to market access rules;
allows for accession, subsequent to its entry into force, by any member of the European Conference of Ministers of Transport, and by San Marino, Monaco and

Andorra;
replaces the bilateral agreements on the subject matter concluded between the contracting parties;
incorporates most of the liberalisation measures of the ASOR Agreement while adding social, fiscal and technical measures based on the principle of non-discrimination between the various contracting parties.

The principle of non-discrimination on grounds of nationality or the place of establishment of the transport operator, and of the origin or destination of the bus or coach is a basic condition applying to the supply of international transport services.

To simplify inspection procedures, the agreement sets out uniform models for:

transport documents, such as the control document for liberalised occasional services, and
the authorisation and the application form for non-liberalised services.

Buses and coaches are exempted from:

all vehicle taxes and charges levied on the circulation or possession of vehicles;
all special taxes or charges levied on transport operations in the territory of the other contracting parties.

However, buses and coaches are not exempted from:

payment of taxes and charges on motor fuel;
value-added tax on transport services;
road tolls and user charges levied on the use of infrastructure.

A Joint Committee is established, responsible for the management and proper application of the agreement. In particular, it is responsible for:

drawing up a list of the authorities responsible for certain tasks provided for under the agreement;
amending or adapting the control documents and other models of documents established in the annexes to the agreement;
amending or adapting the annexes concerning the technical standards applicable to buses and coaches;
drawing up a list, on the basis of information provided by the contracting parties, of all customs duties, taxes and charges;
amending or adapting the requirements concerning the social provisions in order to incorporate future measures taken within the EU;
resolving any dispute over the implementation and interpretation of the agreement;
recommending further steps towards the liberalisation of those occasional services still subject to authorisation.

The agreement was concluded for a period of 5 years, dating from its entry into force. The duration is automatically extended for successive periods of 5 years among those contracting parties who do not express their wish not to do so.

The agreement entered into force on 1 January 2003.

DOCUMENTS

Agreement on the international occasional carriage of passengers by coach and bus (Interbus Agreement) (OJ L 321, 26.11.2002, pp. 13-43)

Council Decision 2002/917/EC of 3 October 2002 on the conclusion of the Interbus Agreement on the international occasional carriage of passengers by coach and bus (OJ L 321, 26.11.2002, pp. 11-12)

Directive 2014/45/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 April 2014 on periodic roadworthiness tests for motor vehicles and their trailers and repealing Directive 2009/40/EC (OJ L 127, 29.4.2014, pp. 51-128)

Regulation (EU) No 165/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 February 2014 on tachographs in road transport, repealing Council Regulation (EEC) No 3821/85 on recording equipment in road transport and amending Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the harmonisation of certain social legislation relating to road transport (OJ L 60, 28.2.2014, pp. 1-33)

Council Decision 2010/308/EU of 11 March 2010 concerning the position of the European Union regarding draft Decision 1/2003 and draft Recommendation 1/2003 of the Joint Committee set up under the Interbus Agreement on the international occasional carriage of passengers by coach and bus (OJ L 138, 4.6.2010, pp. 11-23)

Regulation (EC) No 1071/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 establishing common rules concerning the conditions to be complied with to pursue the occupation of road transport operator and repealing Council Directive 96/26/EC (OJ L 300, 14.11.2009, pp. 51-71)

Information on the entry into force of the Interbus Agreement on the international occasional carriage of passengers by coach and bus (OJ L 321, 26.11.2002, p. 44)

Council Directive 96/53/EC of 25 July 1996 laying down for certain road vehicles circulating within the Community the maximum authorized dimensions in national and international traffic and the maximum authorized weights in international traffic (OJ L 235, 17.9.1996, pp. 59-75)

Council Directive 92/6/EEC of 10 February 1992 on the installation and use of speed limitation devices for certain categories of motor vehicles in the Community (OJ L 57, 2.3.1992, pp. 27-28)

Council Regulation (EEC) No 56/83 of 16 December 1982 concerning the implementation of the Agreement on the international carriage of passengers by road by means of occasional coach and bus services (ASOR) (OJ L 10, 13.1.1983, pp. 1-3)

Council Decision 82/505/EEC of 12 July 1982 concluding the Agreement on the International Carriage of Passengers by Road by means of Occasional Coach and Bus Services (ASOR) (OJ L 230, 5.8.1982, p. 38)

Agreement on the International Carriage of Passengers by Road by means of Occasional Coach and Bus Services (ASOR) (OJ L 230, 5.8.1982, pp. 39-56)

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