Written statement to Parliament

EU transport council: 13 March 2014

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

Outlines the agenda for the next Transport Council, covering subjects including rail regulation, urban mobility and legislative proposals.

I will attend the first Transport Council under the Greek Presidency (the Presidency) taking place in Brussels on Friday 14 March.

The Presidency is aiming for a general approach on a proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the council on the European Union agency for railways and repealing Regulation (EC) no 881/2004 (part of the 4th railway package). This is an important piece of legislation that will serve to further enhance the operation of the single European rail area. The UK’s position on the recast regulation is to ensure that it reflects the agreements reached in the general approach texts on the recast Railway Interoperability and Railway Safety Directives. The European Railway Agency must have the necessary powers to ensure that the framework created by these proposals can operate effectively. All UK interests and objectives are maintained by the Presidency’s text. I therefore fully support this proposal and the adoption of a general approach by the council.

I anticipate that the council will adopt its position on a proposal for a council regulation establishing the Shift2Rail joint undertaking. The UK welcomes the Shift2Rail proposal as we share the vision of reducing costs and increasing capacity and reliability through research and innovation. We fully support the close involvement of the rail industry in this new joint undertaking and the increased emphasis on the needs of passengers and freight customers.

There will be a policy debate on the commission communication entitled ‘Together towards a competitive and resource-efficient urban mobility (PDF, 100KB)’. This communication provides a helpful framework to support and promote competitive and resource-efficient urban mobility at a national and regional level. The key issue is to retain flexibility in this matter, not prescription. Most of the aims and measures are already being delivered in the UK through devolved local measures and national initiatives. It is important, therefore, that this communication is limited to a non-regulatory framework.

Under any other business, the Presidency will provide information on several legislative proposals. Firstly, a proposal for a regulation on the establishment of rules and procedures with regard to the introduction of noise-related operating restrictions at union airports. Secondly, a proposal for a regulation on community-fleet capacity policy to promote inland waterway transport. Finally, a proposal for a directive on the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure (clean power). The French delegation will provide information on the modernised aviation navigation system based on a combined use of GPS and Galileo. The commission will provide information on the outcome of the EU-ASEAN aviation summit held in Singapore on 11 to 12 February and the Estonian delegation will provide information on state aid provisions for air carriers.