Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Yiannis Ragoussis on Monday set in motion an initiative to bring forward the complete deregulation of Greece's trucking sector and cut short the three-year transition period envisaged under the law passed by his predecessor a year earlier.
The minister held a meeting with a delegation from the Panhellenic Union of Overland Goods Transport, a national body representing truck owners, and briefed them on the radical changes and modifications that will be made under pressure from troika inspectors, who demanded the immediate and full deregulation of all 'closed' professions in talks with the government last Friday.

Sources said the minister informed truck owners that full deregulation will begin on January 1, 2012, 18 months sooner than the original date envisaged under the previous measure passed by former transport minister Dimitris Reppas.

In addition, there will no longer be any geographical restrictions according to a truck's home base, meaning that trucks will be allowed to transport goods throughout the country. Finally, the administrative fee for acquiring a new trucking licence will be just 1,500 euro.

Under the deal carved by truckers and Reppas, there would have been a transition period with a gradual reduction of the amount paid for a licence by 30 percent from January 1, 2011, by 35 percent the following year and by 35 percent in 2013, and finally abolished from July 1, 2013 so that obtaining a trucking licence would only cost the administrative fees. As a result, full deregulation would make the exchange value of a licence virtually nil.

Truck owners at the meeting expressed their complete opposition to the new measures announced by Ragoussis and are planning a meeting of the union's board on Tuesday to decide what action to adopt.

The climate is charged, however, with owners gravitating toward a new round of dynamic protests such as those that brought the country to a virtual standstill in 2010.

Truck owners claim that they have not time to found trucking companies before the end of the year since many of the vehicles they own have been bought with loans or are leased, so that they cannot be transferred as assets to a new company.