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[Luxembourg 2005 Presidency of the Council of the European Union]
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Press Release
Transport Ministers discuss the Third Rail Package

Date of release : 21-04-2005

Policy area : Transport, Telecommmunications and Energy Transport, Telecommmunications and Energy

Event : Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council

The Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council, in a meeting in Luxembourg on 21 April 2005, continued its negotiations after lunch with a debate on the direction to take for continuing work on the Third Rail Package. Based on a questionnaire provided to the delegations, President Lucien Lux concluded that, "regarding the rights and obligations of international rail passengers, a majority of Member States do not wish to move forward with a new community instrument that does not adhere to all the provisions of COTIF" (Convention on International Rail Transportation), "but complementary provisions could be established, such as those for mobility-impaired people." Discussions in this vein will continue on a technical level.

As for the proposal relating to compensation for failure to meet contractual, quality requirements applied to rail freight services, Council President Lucien Lux reported that a majority of Member States believe that better quality among freight services could more easily be assured through conventions between the parties involved, namely, between the railway companies and their customers.

Lucien Lux reiterated: "From the very beginning, the Presidency asked the Commission to quickly evaluate the liberalisation policies carried out over the past few years. This evaluation is very important to us because, while we are discussing the Third Rail Package and are already thinking about a possible Fourth Package, we need to carefully assess whether all the goals of the common policy over the past few years have actually been achieved." The Commission has undertaken to quickly carry out this evaluation, while  associating Member States very closely in the process.

In the field of aviation, the Ministers listened to information from Commissioner Jacques Barrot on negotiations with the United States on an "open skies" agreement. In his conclusions, Lucien Lux pointed out that, "the Council welcomes the Commission's intention to continue these talks as soon as possible", using the draft agreement of June 2004 as a starting point. The Council hopes that progress is made towards regulatory cooperation, especially relating to security, competition and government assistance, as well as traffic rights and the link between different stages of the agreement.

Paralelly a solution should also be found on the issue of ownership and control over airlines.

The Ministers identified a general direction for the text of the draft regulation to inform passengers about the identity of the air carrier; this regulation is expected to establish blacklists on questionable companies and is designed to help prevent accidents, such as the one at Sharm el Sheik in 2004. Commissioner Jacques Barrot also submitted a new proposed regulation on the rights of mobility-impaired people who travel by plane.

The Council also reasserted its commitment to improving the environmental performance of European transport systems by approving the Marco Polo II Programme, which intends to subsidise projects designed to move away from road freight to other less-polluting means of transport.

As part of the forthcoming decision on the financial perspectives for 2007-2013, the Transport Ministers and Commissioner Barrot agreed to oversee that Trans-European transportation networks are provided with adequate budgets. This concerns some EUR 20 billion specifically designated for 30 specific, high-priority infrastructure projects, which alone are estimated to cost EUR 225 billion.

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This page was last modified on : 22-04-2005

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