Parliament pushes for EU membership in international transport organisations

On 18 February, the Parliament’s Transport Committee adopted an own initiative report on the EU’s external relations in the field of transport. It calls on the Member States to strive for full EU membership in international transport organisations, and to grant the Commission a broad mandate to negotiate an EU-US common aviation area.

In an initiative report by Brian Simpson (PES, UK) Parliament calls on the EU to assume a bigger role in international transport organisations to avoid inconsistencies between EU and international transport rules. The report addresses in particular two modes of transportation, which were in early stages of globalisation long before the EU embarked on a common transport policy in the mid-1980s.

  • Maritime transport

The report maintains that the EU should strive for full membership of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) where the Commission has already the status of a permanent observer.

The most urgent issue to be addressed in this sector is the harmonisation of taxes, the report says.

  • Civil Aviation

The report demands that the EU should also become a full member of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Currently, the Commission participates in the work of some, but not all of the ICAO bodies.

Among the issues that could be dealt with in that framework the report names slot allocation, computer reservation systems, establishment of technical standards and definition of operational rules and guidelines.

The report also asks the Member States to grant the European Commission the mandate to negotiate the creation of a transatlantic common aviation area with the US (see

EURACTIV 10 February 2003).

It calls for the Commission to be enabled to apply EU competition rules not only to routes within the EU, but also to routes between EU and third country airports.


In maritime and air transport, the EU has little power to regulate autonomously, as rules in these areas, despite falling under EU transport competence, are largely set by international bodies.

Most recently, the EU was forced to acknowledge this lack of influence with respect to maritime transport, in the aftermath of the Prestige disaster in November 2002. As a consequence of this accident, EU Transport Commissioner Loyola de Palacio proposed to tighten EU maritime safety rules, while at the same time urging the EU's international partners to take stronger action within the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

However, in April 2002 the Commission took the initiative to recommend to the Council that it authorise the EU to become member of the ICAO and IMO. This recommendation is being discussed at working group level.


The report will be discussed in plenary on 7 April 2003.


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