Skip to main content

European Transport Council

Volume 464: debated on Monday 8 October 2007

I attended the transport session of the Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council, held in Luxembourg on 2 October. The Portuguese Minister for Public Works, Transport, and Communications, Mr Mario Lino, was in the chair.

At the June Council, Transport Ministers agreed a Resolution calling on the Commission to submit proposals on ways to take forward the Galileo satellite navigation programme, following acknowledgement by that Council that the PPP process had failed. Accordingly, on 19 September the Commission issued a Communication dealing with costs, risks, procurement and governance, together with a proposal for amendment of the Galileo financing regulation and provision for funds to be transferred from the margin available under the Agriculture and Administration budget headings, to fund Galileo in the Competitiveness heading (1A).

With insufficient time for Member States to give detailed consideration to the Communication or to seek the views of national parliaments, discussion on Galileo was confined to an exchange of views. In the exchange, there was wide support for the Galileo project and for reaching an integrated decision by the end of this year. The Council Conclusions reflect these points. In the discussion I made clear the UK's strongly held view that the project should offer value for money for the Community, our opposition to a revision of the financial perspectives, and our firm view that, if the Community decides to proceed with a public procurement of Galileo, any additional funding should be found by reprioritisation within heading 1A.

Following its agreement in principle in June, the Council adopted a Resolution to establish an EU Regional Data Centre for Long Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) of ships. This will create a single EU system for ship tracking, in line with the requirements of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). A decision was required prior to the participation of EU Member States in the IMO's Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) meeting, starting on 3 October. I welcomed the establishment of the data centre, while noting some remaining concerns on system integration and cost-sharing. We also presented these concerns in writing. A UK proposal to set up an ad-hoc working group to address these issues was supported by the Presidency, the Commission, and a number of Member States.

The Council reached a general approach on the draft Directive on road infrastructure safety management. The text of the General Approach is acceptable to the UK.

The Council reached a General Approach on each of two proposals on rail interoperability and safety which have been negotiated together. They are a Directive on interoperability of the Community rail system, combining three previous Directives, and a directive amending the 2004 Directive on rail safety. The General Approach texts on these two proposals are acceptable to the UK and successfully deal with our original concerns on establishing a clearer approach as to how the extension to the whole of the Member States rail system will be taken forward.

The Presidency and the Commission reported on the outcome of the 36th Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in Montreal. The outcome on emissions trading had been disappointing. The Commission wished to examine possible further action, either within ICAO or at the forthcoming UN negotiations in December, and suggested that the Transport Council return to this issue at its November meeting.

The Council adopted a decision giving a mandate for the Commission to open negotiations on a comprehensive aviation agreement with Canada. The terms of the mandate are acceptable to the UK.

The Council adopted Conclusions on the Commission's Communication on “An Action plan for airport capacity, efficiency and safety in Europe”. The Conclusions were acceptable to the UK.

Under AOB, the Commission presented its Green Paper on Urban Transport, entitled “Towards a new culture for urban mobility”. The Commission noted the consultation deadline of 15 March 2008 and the intention to publish an Action Plan in autumn 2008.

I have written to the Chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee, House of Commons and the Chairman of the Select Committee on the European Union, House of Lords detailing the outcome of the session. Copies of these letters have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.