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On 2 February 2005, in his capacity as current President of the "Transport" Council, Lucien Lux, the Minister for Transport, informed the European Parliament’s Committee on Transport and Tourism of the priorities of the Luxembourg Presidency in the area of transport.
He highlighted the desire of the Presidency to achieve "a frank approach to cooperation, leading to fruitfull results" with the Parliament. He expressed his conviction that "the exchange of views that we will have will enable me to better understand the sensibilities of the members of your committee on the subject of the ‘Transport’ dossiers currently on the table of the Council."
Lucien Lux emphasised that the steps taken by the Luxembourg Presidency "will be oriented to the watchwords of the Lisbon strategy: competitiveness, social cohesion and responsible management of our environment. I would add to these watchwords our concern regarding all aspects of transport safety, in particular road safety."
The "Eurovignette" dossier is one of the top priorities in the area of land transport. "The Presidency intends to continue the efforts already undertaken by the Irish and Dutch Presidencies, which have made great efforts in seeking an agreement," explained Lucien Lux. "The challenge is, then, to find a balance between the positions of the Member States while making sure that the text remains coherent and represents real progress in relation to the current situation."
Regarding the Third Rail Package, the Minister stated that, "the Council is well aware that the European Commission would like the four proposals to be adopted together. To say the least, the opinions within the Council on this matter are divided."
"In practice, the Luxembourg Presidency will initially concentrate its efforts on the proposal on improving the rights of International rail passengers," continued the Minister.
"In view of the moderate interest that the proposal on the quality of rail freight has received, the Presidency will once again request the delegations of the 25 Member States to pronounce themselves on this topic. Based on this new tour de table, it will be necessary to examine, together with the Commission and the Parliament, what the final fate in store for this package will be", explained Lucien Lux.
In addition, the Presidency is prepared to examine the dossier on public service obligations when the Commission presents its new proposal.
Since no Commission proposals exist in the area of road safety, the Minister indicated he had touched on this subject with Commissioner Barrot. "I would in this contexte imagine starting to examine, during these six months, one or two directive proposals regarding mandatory switching-on of vehicle headlights during the day or focussing on making wearing protective helmets mandatory for motorcyclists."
On internal navigation, the minister welcomed the progress made in relation to the proposal on the River Information Services (RIS), where adoption seems possible at first reading.
On the subject of aviation, and particularly the "open skies" talks between the EU and the United States, the Minister said that the Council expects, following the presidential elections in America, that the negotiations will be infused with a new spirit with a view to reaching another agreement before the end of 2005.
Lucien Lux said that he expects, in addition, "new initiatives on the part of the Commission before completing the internal legislative framework in the civil aviation sector."
He announced that the Council and the Parliament expected to receive "a communication of two legislative proposals seeking passenger information on the identity of the air carrier, and improving the travelling conditions of passengers with reduced mobility."
In the area of maritime transport, the sensitive dossier is on market access of port services. Lucien Lux indicated that "the Presidency is aware of the sensitivity due primarily to the controversial nature of the reactions that led to the failure of the previous attempt to legislate in this area. While awaiting the results of the consultations begun by your rapporteur, as well as the conclusions of the impact studies initiated by the Commission, the Presidency has examined the dossier with the necessary prudence."
He added that for the third package on maritime safety and security, "the Presidency is dependent upon the agenda the Commission established for submitting new proposals."
The Minister also discussed the second Marco Polo programme and emphasised that the Luxembourg Presidency would like to see progress made on this dossier.
The success of this programme, as well as the realisation of priority projects in the area of Trans-European transport networks (TEN-T), depends on a significant increase in the budget available. The Minister emphasised that the matter would not be resolved, however, unless the European Union provided the necessary budgetary capacity within the framework of the political agreement to be reached in the negociations on the next financial perspectives (2007-2013).
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