EU gives green light to cross-border enforcement directive
The decision to proceed with a directive on cross-border enforcement means that drivers will be punished for traffic offences they commit abroad, including the four "big killers" causing 75% of road fatalities – speeding, breaking traffic lights, failure to use seatbelts and drink driving.
European Commission Vice President Siim Kallas, responsible for Transport, said: 'A foreign driver is three times more likely to commit an offence than a resident driver. Many people seem to think that when they go abroad the rules no longer apply to them. My message is that they do apply and now we are going to apply them.'
The proposals would enable EU drivers to be identified and thus prosecuted for offences committed in a Member State other than the one where their car is registered. An electronic data exchange network will need to be put in place to allow for the exchange of the necessary data. The Member State where the offence was committed will decide on the follow up for the traffic offence.
The legislative proposals must be approved by MEPs in a vote in the European Parliament before becoming law. Once a final text is agreed, Member States will have two years to transpose it into national law.
The announcement has been greeted by TISPOL, the European traffic police network.
TISPOL president, Roar Skjelbred Larsen, said: 'Cross-border enforcement is vital and could play a significant role in helping reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured on Europe's roads.
'National safety campaigns in France and Spain over the past eight years have shown that robust enforcement of existing laws, rather than bringing in any radical new laws, is the single most effective way of achieving significant reductions in road deaths.
'The ministers' courage and commitment in adopting a conclusion on a political agreement means enforcement of the growing number of people who drive outside their home country can now be equally robust, and those who have hitherto flouted traffic laws will in many cases find it is no longer possible to drive away from justice.'
The European Transport Safety Council also applauded the agreement. In a statement it said: 'This Directive in its current form will reduce the current annual death figure of 35,000 on Europe's roads. Moreover the Directive would ensure that the principle of fair and equal treatment will be applied also to non-residents who at present are acting with impunity and escaping punishment whilst travelling abroad.'