I attended the only Transport Council under the Slovak Presidency (the Presidency) in Brussels on Thursday 1 December.
The council adopted a general approach to update the civil aviation safety regulatory framework of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the first on an aviation file since 2014. I welcomed the beneficial move away from prescription to proportionate risk and performance based regulation which was also widely supported by other member states. I supported efforts to encourage innovation and growth, particularly for unmanned aircraft, although shared the concerns of other member states on the need to carefully monitor developments in this sector in urban areas.
The council adopted a general approach on the revised Directive for Safety Rules and Standards for Passenger Ships. I supported this approach and the objective of simplifying and clarifying the existing directive, in particular the proposal that standards for the smallest passenger ships are better suited to regulation at national level. A general approach on the amending directive on the system of inspections for Ro-Ro ferries and high speed passenger craft was also adopted. I welcomed this revision which clarifies and simplifies the inspection regime, providing clear guidance on carrying out inspections while maintaining the same level of safety. A progress report on the proposal to review the directive on the registration of persons sailing on-board passenger ships was also noted by the council.
Under any other business, a range of items were discussed. At the request of Germany, the Commission gave its views on the progress of revisions to the real driving emissions regulations and called on member states for support on agreeing EURO V standards and creating a regime for EU supervision and centralised type approval. Commissioners Bulc and King gave an update on the Commission’s recent work on transport security, highlighting that aviation security in the EU was well advanced but that the Commission was considering legislative action for maritime and land transport. I welcomed cooperation and sharing best practice but, along with other Member States, expressed the importance of a proportionate approach and the need to maintain
accessibility for passengers.
At the request of France and Germany, the Commission provided an update on the forthcoming roads initiatives followed by a discussion of member state priorities. I expressed support for a level playing field on implementation of cabotage rules and the need to balance effective enforcement of regulations with reduced administrative burdens for small and medium sized businesses. During the discussion member states expressed concerns around the need to improve social conditions in the road haulage sector, the problem of fraudulent drivers’ hours reporting, and minimum wages for foreign drivers.
In addition, the Commission updated the Council on:
- global efforts to reduce transport emissions at the 39th Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), at which the UK played a pivotal role and the International Maritime Organisation’s Marine Environment Protection Committee
- its low emission mobility strategy
- the state of play on the Galileo project
- its recent work on women in transport aimed at recommending ways of attracting more women into the transport sector
- the recent review of the Cross-Border Enforcement Directive
- the road safety statistics for 2016
Member states were broadly supportive of the recent work done by the Commission, and set out domestic measures to cut transport emissions and improve the gender balance in transport.
There were also a range of information points from member states under Any Other Business.
The Cypriot delegation provided information on the draft EU-Turkey aviation agreement in relation to sovereignty, non-discrimination and aviation safety; the Dutch updated the Council on cooperation in the field of connected and automated driving; and the Maltese delegation set out their transport priorities for their forthcoming Presidency.
Over lunch, Commissioner Bulc and the Vice President of the European Investment Bank led a discussion on the European Fund for Strategic Investments