I attended the second Transport Council under the Latvian Presidency (the Presidency) in
Luxembourg on Thursday 11 June.
The council adopted a general approach on the proposed directive laying down technical
standards for inland waterway vessels. There was broad support from Member States and the
Commission for both the text and the related creation of the European Committee for Inland
Navigation Standards (CESNI). The Commission indicated that it would now attempt to capitalise
on this success by looking to harmonise other standards in the inland waterway sector, including
training for crew.
The Presidency appreciated the support of all Member States and the Commission in their efforts
to reach agreement with the European Parliament on the complex technical pillar of the ‘Fourth
On the market pillar, however, the Presidency was clear that more time was needed. I welcomed
the improvements to date to address concerns on over-regulation but pressed that more needed
to be done to ensure that competition could flourish and rail continued to be an attractive
investment. In highlighting the success of the UK’s liberalised and competitive rail market, I
invited other Member States to visit the UK to learn from our experience. The main point of
contention was the nature of possible exemptions from competitive tendering with the
Commission supporting an exemption based on performance criteria while some Member States
called for an exemption based on their share of the EU rail market being less than one per cent. I
strongly pressed that any exemptions to competitive tendering had to be based on objective
criteria and fully justified.
On ‘Air passenger rights’, the Presidency presented their progress report.
I underlined the UK’s strong support for the improvements in air passenger rights whilst
reinforcing our position that the balanced and proportionate trigger points of 5/9/12 hours should
be maintained, a view strongly echoed by some Member States. I also voiced strong concerns on
the proposed inclusion of a compensation scheme for missed connecting flights, highlighting the
negative impacts for both passengers and airlines. Two Member States called for a lower trigger
point of 3 hours with another suggesting anything other than including 3 hours in line with
interpretative case law from CJEU rulings was a step backwards in passenger rights. There was
no discussion on the application of the regulation to Gibraltar Airport.
Under any other business, the Commission presented the conclusions of their interim evaluation
on road safety, taking stock of progress towards the 50% reduction in fatalities by 2020. With
regards to next steps the Commission indicated that it was considering proposing a target for
reducing serious injuries.
On the Trans-European Network–Transport (TEN-T) and Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), the
Christophersen-Bodewig-Secchi report which looks at making the best use of the new EU
financial schemes for transport infrastructure projects, was presented. The authors called for
urgent action to ensure the success of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) for
the transport sector and presented 12 recommendations for bringing private capital to the
transport sector. The Commissioner invited Member State views on these recommendations
ahead of the TEN-T days set to take place in Riga on 22 and 23 June.
The Presidency presented the outcome of the third Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Transport
Ministers’ meeting where ASEM member countries made a strong commitment to fostering closer
cooperation in the field of transport connectivity.
The Commission updated the Council on the Shift2Rail research and innovation programme. The
Commission regretted the delay in the recruitment of the Executive Director but considered the
remainder of the programme was on track. I joined several Member States in thanking the
Commission for the update and encouraging all efforts to ensure an accelerated deployment of
The Luxembourg Minister for Sustainable Development and Infrastructure presented the work
programme of their upcoming Presidency stating their focus would remain on the ‘Fourth railway
package’ and achieving a general approach on the market pillar by the October Transport
Council. He invited Ministers to an Informal Council on 7 October focussing on cycling, followed
by the formal Council on 8 October where there would be a policy debate on the Commission’s
review of its transport white paper. At the December Council there would be a policy debate on
social conditions in road transport.