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European Transport Council

Volume 458: debated on Thursday 15 March 2007

I will attend the first Transport Council of the German presidency which takes place in Brussels on 22 March.

The Commission will report on the current difficulties on the PPP concession contract negotiations for the Galileo satellite navigation programme and their impact on the overall development of the programme. There has been no recent progress on the negotiations because of internal problems amongst the partners in the consortium. Ministers will discuss the issue and aim to form an opinion on how preparations should proceed for a decision to be taken at the June Council. We remain concerned about the lack of clear and transparent governance in the management of the development programme and will continue to examine the emerging deal very carefully for its justification in terms of value for money, affordability, and risk to the public sector.

The Council will be asked to adopt a mandate authorising the Commission to open negotiations with non-EU countries on their participation in the Galileo Supervisory Authority as Associated Members. The UK is content for the Council to do so.

The Presidency will report on the contribution of the transport sector to the Lisbon Strategy for economic development, with particular emphasis on the interplay of policy on economic growth and climate protection. An exchange of views is envisaged on the Council Conclusions of 19 February on this topic. Ministers will be asked to indicate how the energy efficiency of transport may be improved and what measures might be taken to deal with emissions in rail and maritime transport. This will enable me to reaffirm to the Council the Government's commitment to environmental aims in transport policy.

Linked to this debate on the Lisbon Strategy will be a discussion during lunch of the inclusion of aviation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. We welcome and support the Commission's legislative proposal and will respond in broad terms to two questions posed by the presidency which cover the application of the emissions cap to aviation and how to deal with third-country airlines.

The Commission will present to the Council the outcome of the latest rounds of negotiations on a proposed EU-US aviation agreement. The Council will be asked to agree on whether the Community should sign the draft agreement.

Following negotiations with Russia on an agreement to end charges for Siberian overflights for EU airlines, the Council will be asked to adopt a Decision on the signature and provisional application of the agreement. The UK strongly welcomes this agreement and will support the draft Decision.

AOB items include Commission presentations on extension of the major trans-European transport axes to neighbouring countries and on the implementation of the SESAR programme for the modernisation of the European air traffic management system.