End of the road in sight for EEC quota system
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In the meantime Britain's allocation is up 17 per cent
from our European correspondent
BRITAIN'S quota of EEC road haulage permits for 1974 was increased by 17 per cent, from 193 to 227, by common consent at the Transport Ministers' Council meeting in Luxembourg last week — and as a result the link between permits and axle weights was effectively severed.
Until this last meeting France has been able to keep a stranglehold on the allocation of these licences but with a complete review of the quota system due at the end of this year France is now faced with the prospect of Britain turning the table and vetoing the continuation of quotas beyond 1974.
The proposed EEC legislation for weights and dimensions was not on last week's agenda. Inevitably, however, the issue was raised, leading to a restatement of their formal positions by the two main protagonists.
Britain's Transport Minister, Mr Fred Mulley, stated that the whole issue of weights and dimensions could be settled there and then, on the United Kingdom's terms, but any shift on his part "at this stage" would cost him his job.
However, EEC Commission sources are confident that the British, despite Mr Mulley's insistence that there is to be no compromise on this issue, are prepared to move towards the Commission proposal on which the original members of the Community are already agreed. Sources differ, however, on how far the British are prepared to accept the 11-ton axle weight limit.
The timing of the future agreement between the "Six" and the three new members of the Community on the Commission proposals could depend heavily on the date and outcome of the next British general election.
All the member States and the Commission clearly recognize the political issues at stake for the British Government, and since the proposals, once adopted, would not be implemented until after 1980, there is still no particular urgency to reach a new compromise.