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Transport Council

Volume 201: debated on Friday 20 December 1991

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To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what was the outcome of the meeting of the European Transport Council on 16 and 17 December.

The meeting of the European Council of Transport Ministers was held in Brussels on the 16 and 17 December. Due to the incident on the morning of the 16 December at Clapham Junction, which resulted in serious and regrettable delay to British Rail services, I was unable to attend the Council. Officials represented the United Kingdom on both days.The Council agreed in principle that speed limiters should be fitted to heavy goods vehicles and coaches throughout the Community. The requirement will apply to all new vehicles registered after 1 January 1994. Existing vehicles registered after 1 January 1988 will have to have limiters fitted by 1 January 1995 where they are used in international transport, and by 1 January 1996 where they are used exclusively on domestic journeys. The Council also agreed that limiters should be set so as to restrict the road speed of HGVs to 90 kph (56 mph), and that limiters on coaches should be set at 100 kph (62 mph). In addition, there will be restrictions on who can fit and set limiters in order to safeguard against incorrect calibration and tampering.The Council took note of the Commission's interim report on road safety and requested the Commission to produce a final report by May 1992, including consideration of the establishment of a standing advisory committee on road safety.Agreement was reached on the definition of technical equivalence to road friendly (air) suspension with a firm commitment to take forward the proposal on maximum authorised drive axle weights.The Council reached agreement in principle on proposals for an EC road hauliers licence. These would be put before the next Transport Council for adoption subject to receipt of the European Parliament's opinion.The Council made progress towards Community rules for the single market on international road passenger transport, paving the way for further simplification of the procedures and for abolition for all authorisations as the next step.A resolution was agreed on transport and disabled people. The Commission have agreed to submit a report by September 1992.

The Commission introduced a paper on transport infrastructure networks which would take account of the Maastricht agreement on networks and the cohesion fund. The Council also reached agreement on its resolution on research and development under the fourth framework programme, with a Council declaration that transport research be

"taken into account in a coherent way".

The Council noted the presidency's report and agreed to ask the Economic and Financial Council to continue to examine fiscal harmonisation in the road haulage sector.

The Council agreed a regulation to liberalise inland waterway cabotage.

On aviation matters, a directive phasing out the operation of older, noisier aircraft between 1995 and 2002 was agreed in principle, subject to further examination of the annex listing certain aircraft from developing countries eligible for exemptions until 2002. The Council had a useful first debate on the third aviation package, agreeing with the main principles and scope of the Commission's proposals whilst noting that more work was needed on the details, particularly as to how and when cabotage and 'seventh freedom' services should be introduced.

On maritime issues, the Council agreed a regulation enabling the Commission to work up a detailed block exemption from the competition rules of the treaty for shipping consortia. The Council also agreed a decision on radionavigation systems. No final decisions were reached on the liberalisation of shipping cabotage but there was general support for the phased approach by the presidency and the proposal was remitted to the Portuguese presidency for further discussion.