I attended the final Transport Council under the Danish Presidency (the Presidency) in Luxembourg on Thursday 7 June.
The Council reached a partial general approach on two Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF)-related regulations: a proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the connecting Europe facility and a proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the implementation and exploitation of the European satellite navigation systems.
I made statements on both regulations saying that while we supported what had been negotiated so far in the text, we could not formally support the draft regulations ahead of the agreement on the overall MFF negotiations as this might prejudge the overall MFF budget.
On the proposal for a regulation establishing the connecting Europe facility, I supported an Irish proposal that would allow co-funding for road schemes where there were isolated (rail) networks as defined in the TEN-T Regulation. I also stressed that our participation in the core corridors was subject to the provisions of Art 172 of the Treaty that require member state approval and would be kept under review until we saw the final requirements in the TEN-T Regulation before finalising our position.
The Council reached a general approach on a proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the establishment of rules and procedures with regard to the introduction of noise-related operating restrictions at European Union airports within a balanced approach and repealing directive 2002/30/EC. I was able to welcome the general approach text, which would reassure the public that at the local and EU level we were taking noise management seriously.
The Presidency provided progress reports on two proposals to bring EU law in line with provisions of the 2006 (ILO) Maritime Labour Convention, noting some of the outstanding issues following official level discussions.
A policy debate was held on the blue belt pilot project which had been initiated under the Belgian Presidency to look at reducing administrative barriers to sea trade, especially in the area of customs formalities. The Presidency concluded that there was support for the Commission taking initiatives to follow up the project, including legislation, though there would need to be analysis first to ensure benefits would justify costs. I noted that there would need to be much greater clarity on benefits before any consideration was given to setting the project in a legislative context.
Under any other business, the Commission provided an update on the inclusion of aviation in the emissions trading system (ETS): Compliance with the 31 March emissions reporting deadline had been high, although Chinese and Indian airlines had refused to comply with the ETS following a direction from their respective administrations. The US Senate held a hearing on the ETS prohibition Bill on 6 June – DG Clima testified at the hearing. Discussions at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) continued, the next significant meeting would be at the end of June, when the ICAO Council would discuss market based measures. I stressed the need to continue to maintain a united EU position to opposition. I highlighted that what we want is a global deal, with a target and specific measures.
Also under other business, the Commission reported on delays in the introduction of the European electronic tolling service (EETS) which should allow drivers to pay road tolls in any country with a single on-board unit and account. Finally, the Commission reported on the recent conference on piracy and maritime transport.
I also met with my French, Dutch and Italian counterparts to discuss EU and bilateral issues in the margins of the Council.