Brice Hortefeux, Minister of the Interior, Overseas France, Local Authorities and Immigration, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, Minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development, Transport and Housing, Thierry Mariani, Minister of State responsible for Transport, and Michèle Merli, Interministerial Delegate for Road Safety, welcome the agreement reached today at the European Union Council of Transport Ministers on the draft directive aimed at facilitating cross-border prosecutions related to road offences committed in a Member State by drivers of vehicles registered abroad.
The policy of automated checks and sanctions, in place since 2003, is largely responsible for saving some 12,000 lives on France’s roads. Those results are jeopardized, however, by the behaviour of many drivers whose vehicles are registered abroad. When they exceed the maximum speed limit authorized in France and are intercepted by the security forces, they are sanctioned. By contrast, when the speeding is confirmed by means of fixed radar, it has not been possible to prosecute them because the foreign number plate does not allow them to be identified.
Those drivers represent 15% of offenders in the European Union; in France, the percentage rises to 25% on average and indeed up to 50% in summer in certain French border departments. Those Member States which have put in place similar monitoring policies face the same phenomenon of impunity for the drivers of vehicles registered abroad.
Equality of treatment therefore had to be guaranteed for all European drivers, in whatever State their vehicle is registered, and a response provided to this major road safety challenge. More than 35,000 people were killed on the roads and 1.5 million injured in the European Union in 2009; the cost of a lack of road safety in our shared European area is around €130 billion per year.
France has strongly committed herself to fighting this human, social and economic scourge. That is why, on the occasion of her European Union presidency in the second half of 2008, France proposed a European Commission directive aimed at identifying and prosecuting all drivers who have committed an offence, in whatever State the vehicle is registered.
When the matter was taken up again this summer by the Belgian presidency of the European Union, France supported with determination, and was a proposing force in the work that led to today’s agreement, which she welcomes.
All Member States will therefore have to provide, at the request of the State where the offence was committed, information on the vehicle and on its owner. The implementation of sanctions will be the responsibility of the State where the offence was committed, in accordance with the legislation in force.
It is a move towards greater equality of treatment for European drivers and a great step towards building a European road safety area.
This success is fully in line with the adoption by the European Union, also today in Brussels, of strategic guidelines on road safety for the decade 2011-2020, aimed at halving the number of people killed on the roads by 2020./.