Transport ministers tackle heavy-weight agenda

Aircraft safety and the second rail package are likely to find agreement during the Council meeting of 27-28 March, while many other issues on the agenda still need to be discussed.

With regard toroad transport, the Council is expected to adopt its common position on the extension of the Austrian ecopoint system. On 31 December 2002, a political agreement was reached on the issue, supported by the Commission, but opposed by Austria, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium. The Parliament has meanwhile challenged the proposed compromise, discarding it as too close to the existing system (seeEURACTIV on 13 February 2003).

Regardingmaritime safety, the ministers will debate the accelerated phasing-out of single hull tankers, proposed by the Commission in the wake of the Prestige accident (see

EURACTIV on 13 February 2003). During the Brussels European Council of 20 and 21 March 2003, EU heads of government urged the Transport Ministers to reach agreement on this issue during this meeting.

The Commission will also present its new draft for a Directive imposing criminal sanctions for ship-source pollution (see

EURACTIV on 6 March 2003). EU leaders want it to be adopted by the end of 2003.

Other issues to be discussed include the Commission's package onair transportrelations between the EU and third countries (see

EURACTIV on 27 February 2003) and a draft regulation on the protection against unfair competition from third countries. The ministers should come to an agreement on the issue of safety of third countries' aircraft using Community airports as well as on thesecond railway package. Regarding the latter, the Parliament adopted its position on 14 January 2003 (seeEURACTIV on 16 January 2003).


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