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Railways: EU Action

Volume 463: debated on Thursday 19 July 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment she has made of the financial implications for the UK rail industry of the implementation of the EU proposal 2004/0048 (COD) for a European Parliament and Council directive on the certification of train drivers operating locomotives and trains on the Community’s rail network. (151033)

Following publication of the proposals for the Third Rail Package, the Government undertook a statutory public consultation to take into account the views of stakeholders which were integral to formulating the UK negotiating line. In accordance with Cabinet Office guidelines the Government produced an initial Regulatory Impact Assessment at the time of consultation in 2004 to assess the likely effects of the directive on the UK industry and users. This was continually updated to account for changes made to the proposal by the Council and European Parliament. A partial Regulatory Impact Assessment was submitted to the Scrutiny Committee of both Houses on 14 January 2005.

The Regulatory Impact Assessment identified considerable cost to the UK industry of implementation of the licensing requirements to domestic train drivers in the UK. Negotiation of a derogation into the final text of the directive for domestic drivers means that those costs originally identified are now likely to be substantially reduced.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment her Department has made of the likelihood of the EU proposal 2004/0048 (COD) for a European Parliament and Council directive on the certification of train drivers operating locomotives and trains on the Community’s rail network being extended to include all train crews. (151034)

The final text of the proposed directive on the certification of train drivers operating locomotives and trains on the railway system in the Community, agreed during the conciliation process, contains provisions to limit application to a limited number of non-driving staff, which member states will be able to define. Although this has to be formally adopted by both the European Parliament and the Council, there is a strong expectation both will vote to accept. During negotiations between the Parliament and Council, the UK along with the majority of other member states was not in favour of the directive being extended to encompass all on-board safety related crew.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will publish the UK’s proposed derogation from the EU proposal 2004/0048 (COD) for a European Parliament and Council directive on the certification of train drivers operating locomotives and trains on the Community’s rail network. (151080)

The final text of the proposed directive on the certification of train drivers operating locomotives and trains on the railway system in the Community, agreed during the conciliation process, has not yet been formally adopted by either the European Parliament or the Council. The derogation will require member states wishing to use it to provide the Commission with a cost/benefit analysis to show why the costs of application to domestic drivers is disproportionate.

Once the final text of the directive has been adopted by the Parliament and Council, the Government in transposing the directive for the UK, will consult stakeholders, and produce and publish guidance, which will include details on how the UK intends to apply and use the derogation for domestic drivers.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions she has had in the Council of Ministers about the UK’s proposed derogation from the EU proposal 2004/0048 (COD) for a European Parliament and Council directive on the certification of train drivers operating locomotives and trains on the Community’s rail network. (151081)

The derogation allowing member states to disapply on a time-limited basis provisions in the proposed Directive on the certification of train drivers operating locomotives and trains on the railway system in the Community was discussed and agreed by the Council and by the European Parliament during negotiations that began in 2005 and are now almost complete following the successful outcome of the conciliation process. UK Ministers and officials were among a majority of member states supporting this proposed derogation, which gives greater flexibility to member states in implementing the directive and ensures that the full costs and benefits can be taken into account.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions her officials have had with the UK Permanent Representation to the EU on the UK’s proposed derogation from EU proposal 2004/0048 (COD) for a European Parliament and Council directive on the certification of train drivers operating locomotives and trains on the Community’s rail network. [R] (151082)

Throughout negotiations of the proposed directive on the certification of train drivers operating locomotives and trains on the railway system in the Community officials from the Department of Transport have had and continue to have regular discussions and meetings with members of the UK Permanent Representation primarily to agree negotiating lines and the strategic handling of negotiations.