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Bilingual vegetarian truckers please

PUBLISHED: 23:11 23 January 2002 | UPDATED: 11:14 03 March 2010

TRUCKERS heading from Colchester to Cologne should learn German and HGV drivers delivering loads from Halesworth to Helsinki ought to have a smattering of Finnish.

TRUCKERS heading from Colchester to Cologne should learn German and HGV drivers delivering loads from Halesworth to Helsinki ought to have a smattering of Finnish.

This is the decision by Euro MPs – and they also want unhealthy, greasy spoon fry-ups on the journey to be discouraged.

Tory Euro MPs and the road haulage industry are seething at the vote in the European Parliament in Strasbourg which, they claim, could mean truckers have to sit driver training examinations.

Paul Newton, of Ipswich-based Horley Motors, said the EU should be concentrating on the humanitarian efforts in Kosovo, Afghanistan and the Congo rather than trying "to wreck" the livelihood of the UK's hard pressed hauliers.

"We have to put up with enough regulations without being shackled by European regulations. We are essential to Britain's prosperity, but we are now going to have to put with all this added nonsense from Europe," he said. "Drivers need no lessons from Brussels on what to eat."

Geoffrey Van Orden, one of the Conservative's east of England Euro MPs and a member of the transport committee who voted against the new legislations, said: "This is a red-tape nightmare for the UK's road hauliers."

Under the plans, known as the Grosch report on the training of professional drivers, truckers across the 15 EU states are being recommended to sit exams on their dietary habits, the environmental impact of driving lorries and foreign languages.

"What a driver eats and whether he or she chooses to learn another language should not be dictated by the European Commission," said Mr Van Orden. "The costs from these extra training courses, that will take some 420 hours to complete, are close to £140 million a year and will be picked up by the industry itself, putting a massive further strain on tight budgets."

However, although amendment 19 was carried, Labour MEPs insist there is nothing prescriptive in the resolution. Mark Watts, Labour's transport spokesman in the European Parliament said: "It is optional, and the UK will opt out. Telling lorry drivers what to east for breakfast is patronising."

n The AA has supported proposed European legislation making eye tests compulsory for drivers aged 45 and over. The motoring organisation gave its backing to the European Commission plan that, if agreed, would require drivers to have tests every 10 years from the age of 45.

AA road safety head Andrew Howard said: "The new legislation is essential, because eyesight defects are most likely at around age 45 onwards. Often people don't notice how bad their sight has become, simply because the deterioration can be very gradual."

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