Written statement to Parliament

EU Transport Council: 7 December 2011

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

EU Transport Council meeting seeking a directive by the European Parliament on establishing a single European railway area (recast).

The Rt Hon Justine Greening MP

I will attend the second Transport Council of the Polish presidency which will take place in Brussels on 12 December.

The presidency will be seeking a political agreement on a proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the council establishing a single European railway area (recast). The European Parliament had its first reading of this proposal on 16 November. Many of the Parliament’s amendments differed significantly from the council’s general approach text. Following discussion at the one council working group meeting that took place following the first reading it is expected the presidency will seek a political agreement, which incorporates only those amendments that do not alter the general approach, and thus will be acceptable to the UK.

The council will be asked to reach a partial general approach on a draft regulation amending Regulation 3821/85 on recording equipment in road transport and amending regulation 561/2006. The UK supports elements of the proposal that aim to reduce burdens on business. I will want to resist provisions that might impose unnecessary burdens or additional costs on government or Industry, including the proposal to ban operators from installing and calibrating tachographs in their own vehicles. I will be seeking to minimise the risks of increases in costs and burdens via future decisions taken by the European Commission (‘the commission’) under a delegated or implementing act, by pressing for clearly specified constraints on the scope of proposed action.

The council will be asked to reach a general approach on a proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the council amending Directive 2008/106/EC of the European Parliament and of the council on the minimum level of training of seafarers. Although we would question the merit of a European database of seafarer certification, we have negotiated important changes which would require the anonymisation of seafarer personal data to be a mandatory pre-condition of the obligation to transfer data. We have also negotiated changes to align the text more closely with the deadline for the implementation of the amendments to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers to avoid placing additional burdens on EU member states which would put our flags at a competitive disadvantage with other countries’ flags.

The council will be asked to reach a general approach on a proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the council on the accelerated phasing-in of double-hull or equivalent design requirements for single-hull oil tankers (Recast). The UK is in favour of the general approach proposed for the draft recast of these regulations which brings European law in line with amendments agreed at the International Maritime Organization.

There will also be a progress report on a proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the council on union guidelines for the development of the Trans-European Transport Network. The UK recognises that the TEN-T Network should be focused on projects that carry clear EU-added value and should be supported by guidelines on projects seeking EU funding. We do not support standards and requirements being expanded to the wider TEN-T Network on a mandatory basis. We believe that decisions on national projects to be prioritised for development and investment should remain with the member states and the transport operators concerned. Furthermore, the UK is keen to ensure that this proposal does not impose any additional financial or administrative burdens.

The main items under any other business include the commission’s presentation on its proposal for an airport package, the implementation and exploitation of European satellite navigation systems and the connecting Europe facility. The commission will also provide information on the European aviation safety management system and air cargo security action plan.

The Polish presidency will provide information on the ministerial conference on Eastern Partnership held in Krakow on 24-25 October 2011 and on the high level conference on the implementation of the single European sky and its extension to third countries held in Warsaw on 28 November 2011.

The Danish delegation will also provide information on the work programme of their forthcoming Presidency of the EU.

Published 7 December 2011