William Leonard has lobbied the Vice-President of the EU Commission, Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas, saying Donegal bus companies have put him out of business.
Nine out of ten school bus contracts with the North’s Western Education Board are with Donegal firms – with more than 50 schools in the Derry area alone using Donegal companies.
Mr Leonard claims the education authorities are breaching EU regulations by awarding permanent contracts to companies from a different EU state.
He also says that for the bus companies from Donegal to operate within EU laws the service must be cross-Border, temporary and not affect bus companies in the other state – he says he has had to sell buses because he can no longer operate.
Now Donegal bus operators fear the EU may tell the North’s DoE to stop Donegal firms operating in the North. That could lead to the loss of dozens of jobs.
An EU official warned: “The basic position is that there are no limits on the journeys which transport operators from another Member State may provide once they are in connection with an international service – subject, of course, to compliance with health and safety and social measures.
“For regular (essentially scheduled) services, cabotage is only allowed provided the vehicle is running an international journey, and subject to safeguards, for Public Service Obligation (PSO) funded routes and against abuse.
“Similarly, ‘occasional’ or ‘special regular’ (e.g. contracted school) international services may carry out cabotage.
“For purely, domestic services, Member States may also authorise non-resident operators on a non-discriminatory basis. The Commission thus sees no reason to consider a further market opening – and so no need for an advisory group.”
Mr Leonard argues that this interpretation of the cabotage rule means Donegal firms would need to be making an international journey to be allowed to carry out regular or special regular services.Tags: