Barrot presents 2005 transport work programme

Local authorities will be given more latitude to finance land
transport under a modified Commission proposal to be unveiled this
year. Global aviation deals, safety issues and road charging
remain high on the agenda.

Public service requirements and competitive tendering
for local land transport
: the regulation, which lays down
the rules applicable to the award of public contracts for local
transport services (usually bus or light rail), has been stuck in
Council since the Parliament’s first reading in 2001 ( Meijer report). 

The main issue will be to strike a balance between the general
competition principles of public tendering and the right for local
public authorities to provide the service themselves. 

Barrot’s new proposal will be based on contracts of limited
duration with the providers which will have to be reviewed
regularly. Exemptions to EU competition rules could be granted
under certain circumstances, including for public works. Barrot
said his approach will be to “give greater latitude to public
authorities” for laying down the detailed competition rules.

Global aviation policy: A proposal due to be
submitted in March will lay down the framework for the EU’s
international aviation policy. Barrot said bilateral deals, such as
the one currently under negotiation with the US, will become the
rule. First priority will be to create a “common area” with the
EU’s neighbouring countries, then to strike global deals with other
regional blocs. The Commission will propose a mandate to open
negotiations with Russia and China.

Air passenger rights: New measures will be
tabled “in the coming days” to make the disclosure of the identity
of air carriers to passengers compulsory. The proposals follow the
crash of a Flash airlines Boeing in Egypt last year (see
EURACTIV, 6 Jan.
2004
). 

More safety and security measures are also
to be taken, including a third ‘Erika package’ on maritime safety
and new proposals on air security. Barrot said he would seek to
strengthen and widen the scope of both the European aviation and
maritime safety agencies.

On road safety, Barrot said the mid-term
review of the European road safety action programme would be
an opportunity to strengthen police and judicial co-operation
to make motorists accountable for road offences committed in other
EU countries.

The liberalisation of international passenger traffic under
the
third railway package
will also be one of the hot
dossiers Barrot will have to follow. Dealing with each directive or
regulation separately is the approach Barrot advocates MEPs should
take.

On road charging for heavy vehicles
(‘Eurovignette’), Barrot said he hoped an agreement could be struck
at the transport ministers’ council of 21 April. The Commission, he
said, is ready to accept a compromise based on “solid” ex-post
controls rather than on ex-ante ones which are not going to be
respected. However, he remained firm on the scope of the directive,
saying tolls should be applicable to the whole road network. “It
would be too easy, Barrot told MEPs, to let the states fit tolls on
transit centres only”. Exemptions, he said, should be granted based
on objective considerations such as the accessibility of isolated
regions.

Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot presented his 2005 work
programme before the Parliament's Transport and Tourism Committee
on 1 February. He highlighted the following:

The Transport Council will meet on 21 April 2005. On the
agenda are: the Eurovignette directive, the third railway
package and the environmental performance of freight.

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