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EU Transport Council

Volume 450: debated on Tuesday 10 October 2006

I will attend the first Transport Council of the Finnish presidency which takes place in Luxembourg on 12 October.

The main items on the agenda are: the mid-term review of the 2001 White Paper on transport policy; the Galileo satellite navigation project; the draft regulation on aviation security; and two aspects of aviation external relations.

There will be a policy debate on the mid-term review of the Commission White Paper on European transport policy. The review, entitled “Keep Europe Moving—Sustainable Mobility for our Continent”, appeared in July. It reviews the EU’s transport objectives between 2001 and 2010, as set out in the 2001 White Paper. Evident in the review is a change of emphasis, the aim now being to get the best from each transport mode, rather than seeing present and future policy in terms of conflict between road and rail. Key themes are better regulation, competitiveness, transparency, innovation and logistics.

The UK’s overall aim is to ensure continued emphasis on reducing regulatory burden, ensuring the proper working of the internal market and protection of the environment. This means that new Commission proposals should be based upon a rigorous impact assessment; that the rules of the internal market are monitored to see that they are working properly; that liberalisation of the domestic passenger rail market is treated as a priority; and that measures such as aviation emissions trading are brought forward to help mitigate environmental damage.

There will be a report from the Commission on its communication on freight transport logistics, entitled “Freight Logistics in Europe—Key to Sustainable Mobility”. The communication “examines whether and where the EU could offer added value to enhancing the development of freight transport logistics in Europe and the world”. The Commission plans to present an action plan for freight transport logistics in 2007. The Finnish presidency will take forward consultation on the communication and prepare for the action plan. Logistics is Finland’s central presidency priority in the transport field. The UK supports this initiative from the Commission and the proposal to develop an action plan. However in future discussions on the action plan we will need to ensure that any regulatory proposals that emerge are proportional and supported by industry needs.

The presidency will aim for a general approach on two draft regulations related to management of the Galileo programme. The first amends the statutes of the Galileo Joint Undertaking (Regulation 876/2002 EC) to allow for its closure at the end of 2006; the second amends the regulation (1321/2004 EC) which established the Galileo supervisory authority, allowing it to take over the joint undertaking’s responsibilities for the current development phase. The UK supports these amendments, which aim to ensure that an appropriate management structure is in place, with an efficient transition of responsibilities for managing the Galileo programme.

The Council will consider conclusions on the Commission communication of June 2006, taking stock of the Galileo programme. We believe these provide a useful reinforcement of our objectives for the programme. The Commission is also expected to report on progress in the PPP concession contract negotiations, and possibly on its delayed deliberations on the involvement of third countries in the programme.

We will examine the emerging deal very carefully for its justification in terms of value for money, affordability, and risk to the public sector. We are also pressing the Commission to bring forward proposals for the new financial mechanisms which will be needed. A successful PPP should deliver a value for money deal and ensure that all member states are in a position to participate in the potential economic benefits.

The Council will aim to reach political agreement on the regulation on civil aviation security, replacing and improving on the 2002 regulation. The new proposal would help to clarify, simplify, and further harmonise legal requirements with the aim of enhancing overall security in civil aviation. Early agreement on the proposed new regulation is highly desirable.

In addition, under AOB, there will be reports from the presidency and the Commission on recent developments in aviation security.

The Commission will give progress reports on two aspects of aviation external relations on which it has been given mandates to negotiate agreements—with the US on a comprehensive air transport treaty, and with Russia on payments for Siberian overflights. Both issues remain the subject of on-going discussions with the respective Governments.