The agreement provides a harmonised legal framework to facilitate the movement of persons between these countries. Both agreements provide for the application of the acquis on road transport in the countries concerned. Article 218(9) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union provides that `the Council, on a proposal from the Commission …) a decision … establishing the positions to be taken on behalf of the Union within a body established by an agreement, where that body is required to adopt acts having legal effects, with the exception of acts supplementing or amending the institutional framework of the agreement. As regards the applicability of Article 218(9) TFEU, the procedure contained therein must be complied with as soon as the conditions laid down therein are fulfilled. Those conditions are as follows: (a) the area in question falls within the competence of the Union; (b) the position of the Union is expressed by a body established by an international agreement where that body is invited to adopt (c) acts having legal effect. The case-law has clarified that the accession of the Union to the body concerned is not a precondition for the application of Article 218(9) TFEU. The EC/Switzerland Agreement on land transport applies to the carriage of goods and passengers by road and rail. It entered into force on 1 July 2002 and aims to fully liberalise access to the transport markets of the Contracting Parties. As far as road transport is concerned, Community carriers and Swiss carriers are already free to carry out transport between a Member State and Switzerland and vice versa.

Almost half of the total road freight transport between the EU and third countries is with Switzerland. As part of the agreement, Switzerland has also lifted its weight restrictions for heavy goods vehicles: since January 2005, the maximum permissible weight in Switzerland is 40 tonnes (the same as in the EU). In addition, the agreement provided for the introduction of the Swiss tax on long-distance heavy goods vehicles. In the rail sector, Switzerland is committed to liberalising its rail market by adopting the EU`s liberalisation packages. In view of developments in the EU, some contracting parties to the EU AETR have become increasingly dissatisfied with the automaticity of the Article 22a mechanism, which they consider unbalanced and insufficient to ensure a harmonised introduction of the digital tachograph. In 2011, they requested the relevant UNECE body – the Working Party on Road Transport (SC.1) – to formally address this issue. In response to this request, SC.1 decided in September 2011 to establish an expert group on the AETR to examine the current situation within the AETR and to submit proposals for amendments to the Agreement. This multilateral agreement was drawn up under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).

It has inspired similar rules in the European Union, namely Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 1 on driving and rest periods and Regulation (EEC) No 3821/85 2 on recording equipment in road transport. The AETR agreement concerns the work of vehicle crews working in the field of international road transport. The agreement applies to 49 parties, including all EU Member States.