The Polish Presidency of the EU held its 1st meeting of EU transport ministers in Luxembourg on 6 October. The UK was represented by officials.
There was a policy debate on a draft regulation amending Regulation 3821/85 on recording equipment in road transport and amending regulation 561/2006. The UK reiterated our support for measures that reduce burdens on business and expressed doubts that the costs and benefits of the commission’s proposal had been fully assessed. The presidency noted that discussions were at an early stage and that consideration would continue at official level.
The mandate for enlarging the geographical scope of the existing Interbus agreement was not discussed at the Council.
The council agreed 2 negotiating mandates in the area of aviation external relations:
- the first was to negotiate a High Level Agreement with the European Organisation for Safety of Air Navigation (EUROCONTROL).
- the second was to open negotiations on a comprehensive air transport agreement with Azerbaijan.
The council adopted conclusions on the commission communication on ‘The EU and its neighbouring regions: A renewed approach to transport cooperation’. A number of member states intervened in support. The conclusions have taken on board UK’s key concerns and are set broadly to maximise the opportunities for trade liberalisation, economic integration and regulatory convergence.
A lunchtime discussion on trans-european transport network was held. The UK stressed the need for realism on the TENs budget in the current economic climate and emphasised that decisions on which projects should be developed and invested in on national networks should remain with the member states concerned. Legislative proposals for all trans-European networks (transport, energy and digital communication) are expected to be published on 19 October.
Among AOB items, discussions were held on the emissions trading system (ETS) for aviation. The presidency noted that the ECJ had published an Advocate General’s opinion which concluded that the Aviation ETS Directive was compatible with EU law. The commission provided oral information noting that the situation was getting highly political and would require a united EU approach to face off third countries’ opposition. The UK intervened to reiterate its commitment to the inclusion of aviation in the EU ETS and its support of the Advocate General’s opinion.