Last Transport Council under Danish presidency faces high expectations

The Transport Council of 5-6 December is to discuss maritime safety, air transport, heavy goods transport through Austria, the revitalisation of the EU’s railways and the integration of environmental into transport policy. It is the last meeting of Transport ministers under the Danish presidency.

  • Cardiff process

The Council is expected to adopt conclusions on the integration of environmental into transport policy. It is the second review since the strategy was defined in October 1999, following the European Council’s request at Cardiff in 1998.

 

The following points are included in the Council's agenda:

Maritime transport:

  • Prestige accident

Following the Prestige accident off the Spanish coast two weeks ago, pressure has arisen to tighten up maritime safety rules in Europe (see

EURACTIV on 2 December). On request of the Spanish delegation, the ministers will discuss speeding up the phasing out of Prestige-type single hull tankers, tougher port inspection, co-operation with third countries and creating ports of refuge for ships in distress.

Air transport:

  • Single European Sky

The European Parliament backed the package on 3 September with an overwhelming majority (see

EURACTIV on 6 September 2002). During the two latest meetings of the Council, no progress was made (seeEURACTIV on 4 October 2002), the main point of controversy being the relation between civil and military uses. However, in line with the conclusions of the Barcelona European Council, a political understanding is supposed to be reached still this year.

  • Consequences of the Court's 'open sky' judgements

Following the European Court's decision that eight Member States holding bilateral aviation deals with the US have broken community law (see

EURACTIV on 6 November 2002), the European Commission formally requested those Member States to revoke the deals (seeEURACTIV on 21 November 2002). During the Council's meeting., the Commission's communication is to be presented to the Member States.

  • Compensation and assistance to air passengers

On 23 October, the EP plenary approved the draft regulation setting up new standards for compensation and assistance in the case of denied boarding. The main stumbling point relates to the amounts of compensations to be paid out to passengers (see

EURACTIV on 25 October 2002). However, some progress was made during the October Council session, so this time a political agreement is likely to be reached.

Road transport:

  • Ecopoint system with Austria

The European Parliament transport committee was to adopt its report on 2 December. It will be presented to the plenary in December this year. The Transport Council is expected to reach a political agreement on the draft regulation for reviewing the system as a whole (COM (2000)862), but not on the regulation extending the system until late 2004, with a possibility of further extension (COM(2001)807, see

EURACTIV on 28 October 2002).

Rail transport:

  • Second rail package

On 27 November, the European Parliament's transport committee adopted its reports on the legislative package, including proposals on market liberalisation, rail safety, interoperability and a European Railway Agency. The committee wants to fully liberalise not only national and international rail freight but also passenger services by 2008. The plenary is to deal with the proposal only in January. The Transport Council will hold a policy debate on the issue.

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