Written statement to Parliament

EU Transport Council: 14 June 2011

Details of the agenda for the second Transport Council of the Hungarian Presidency on 16 June 2011 covering a range of transport issues.

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

The Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP

I will attend the second Transport Council of the Hungarian Presidency which will take place in Luxembourg on 16 June.

The Council will be asked to reach a general approach on a directive which recasts the 2001 first rail package. The 2001 legislation set the initial framework for a single european rail market. The proposal aims to address the fact that the first railway package has not achieved its declared objective of market opening through a number of proposals to improve the transparency of rail market access conditions and access to rail-related services.

Although we support the Commission’s overall aim of clarifying and strengthening the regulatory framework for rail access and recognise the need for some further liberalisation in continental Europe, we have concerns about the investment disincentives and the cost impacts of some of the proposals on the UK. We have negotiated changes which align the text more closely with the arrangements which prevail in the UK, whilst preserving the proposals for liberalisation in continental Europe.

However, there is little in the package which gives the UK any added value over the existing first railway package directive.

The Council will also be asked to reach a general approach on the draft amending regulation 1406/2002, which established the European Maritime Safety Agency. The proposed amendment, while maintaining the agency’s present objectives, gives it several new, largely technical, tasks. While we recognise the importance of the additional tasks, we are opposed to any increase in the budget, unless it is financed through reprioritisation of funds from other areas of the EU Budget.

There will be a policy debate on the European Commission’s recent white paper, ‘Roadmap to a single European transport area - towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system’. The broad thrust of the white paper is in line with the UK’s goal of a transport system that supports economic growth whilst delivering CO&8322; reductions. The Council debate will centre on a number of questions put by the Presidency. Our position includes a clear request to the Commission that detailed initiatives arising from this general policy framework are feasible and realistic, avoid excessive regulatory burdens on business, and respect the principle of subsidiarity.

The Council will be asked to adopt conclusions on a recent Commission communication, ‘The way ahead towards integrated and competitive EU inland waterway transport’. The conclusions are acceptable to the UK.

The Council will be asked to adopt a decision on the signing and conclusion of an agreement with the Intergovernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail on the EU accession to the convention concerning International Carriage by Rail (COTIF) of 9 May 1980, as amended by the Vilnius Protocol of 3 June 1999. The UK can support adoption of the decision. The Council will be asked to adopt two decisions in the area of aviation external relations.

The first is a decision authorising the Commission to open negotiations with Moldova on a comprehensive air transport agreement.A comprehensive air transport agreement will result in the integration of the Moldovan aviation market into the single European market through the convergence of EU aviation regulations, technical assistance and market opening. I will support the decision authorising the opening of negotiations.

The second decision is on the signature of an air transport agreement which has been negotiated with Brazil. This agreement will significantly liberalise the market in air services between the EU and Brazil, providing new opportunities for the aviation industry. I will support the decision and sign the agreement.

Among AOB items, the Commission will be reporting on progress in work on air cargo security. As I did at the March Council, I will reiterate the importance of moving forward quickly with this work.

Also under AOB, the Commission will report on the follow-up to the volcanic ash crisis of 2010, looking at the wider scope of crisis management and EU methodology and on recent developments in implementing the single European sky.

Published 14 June 2011