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Balance of competences review: transport

Calling for evidence for the EU balance of competences review.



Balance of competences review: transport

The influence of the European Union on UK transport is extensive. It affects many different areas – from air and rail travel to the cars and lorries on our roads and shipping. As part of the wider cross-government balance of competences review, the Department for Transport is seeking your views on how the EU helps and how it hampers the UK’s transport interests.

Let’s look at a few examples:

Since the 1990s, The EU has developed an increasingly liberalised market for aviation. EU airlines can fly passengers between airports anywhere in the EU. This single aviation market has seen greater choice – including through the rapid growth of “low cost” airlines – and lower fares for consumers.

The EU has also legislated on passenger rights. People who get “bumped off” overbooked flights or whose flights are cancelled or seriously delayed are compensated by their airline.

What do you think? Has EU action been good for both air passengers and airlines or has it generated unnecessary bureaucracy that stifles growth and competition?

When it comes to rail travel, the UK operates an open and competitive rail market. The latest EU proposal for rail builds on the UK model by furthering the separation of train operators from track managers and aims to facilitate cross-border train services and promote the development of rail infrastructure. Do you think opening up the whole of the EU rail market to competition will contribute to further economic growth here in the UK? What opportunities will it provide for UK businesses?

As for road transport, the EU has sought to open up competition in road haulage, create common safety standards and reduce the impact on the environment.

For example, European law says lorries from EU countries can pick up and deliver goods anywhere in the EU. Is it fair for an operator from one country to get business in another? The EU also specifies drivers’ hours and rest periods – is it right that the same standards apply in all EU countries? Is the approach too bureaucratic and costly for hauliers trying to run their businesses profitably or justified in ensuring drivers’ safety?

The EU also affects how the UK operates internationally. The European Commission has observer status in important international forums such as the International Maritime Organisation, which sets global standards for ship safety and security and the prevention of marine pollution. Being an observer means the Commission can’t vote in these forums. So instead, where international action affects EU rules, it seeks to coordinate an EU position with the member states who can vote. Is it better for the EU to speak with one voice at international negotiations or should member states continue to be able to speak for themselves?

This is a very brief taste of how the EU’s influence has developed across transport. We hope it spurs you to respond to the balance of competences review for transport. We want to hear your views – and receive your evidence – on where EU action works well and on where a different approach might work better.

Philip Rutman: It’s not every day you get the chance to have your say on something as complex as the European Union’s influence on transport. But we really do want to hear from you. So I would encourage everyone who operates or uses transport services to take full advantage of this unique opportunity by telling us what you think.