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Transport Council

Volume 477: debated on Friday 20 June 2008

I attended the second Transport Council of the Slovenian presidency, in Luxembourg on 13 June.

In road transport, the Council reached a political agreement on each of three legislative proposals: the recast regulation on common rules for access to the international road haulage market; the regulation on common rules concerning the conditions to be complied with to pursue the occupation of road transport operator; and the recast regulation on common rules for access to the market for coach and bus services. Presidency compromise texts took into account the concerns of several member states, including the UK, in relation to cabotage and the Commission’s report in June 2009 on the future inclusion of vehicle registration data on the national registers of operators. The agreed texts of all three proposals are acceptable to the UK.

The Council reached a general approach on a recast Directive on roadworthiness tests for motor vehicles and their trailers. The text was acceptable to the UK.

The Council adopted conclusions, acceptable to the UK, on multi-annual contracts for rail infrastructure quality.

The Council reached a general approach on a Directive on the promotion of clean and energy-efficient road transport vehicles. We support the principle of using public procurement to help stimulate the market for greener vehicles. The revised text presented to Council, which we were able to accept, is a significant improvement over the original. However, I informed the Council that we regret the lack of a formal impact assessment. We will want, with the Commission, to keep the costs and benefits of the proposed measures under review.

The Council adopted a decision authorising the Commission to open negotiations towards an EU/Western Balkans transport treaty. The UK supports the decision and welcomes this opportunity to work towards improvement of the infrastructure of the Western Balkans and better transport links.

The Council adopted decisions authorising the Commission to open negotiations on comprehensive air transport agreements with Australia and New Zealand. The UK supports the opening of negotiations with these countries.

Under any other business, I was pleased to be able, jointly with the Irish Minister, Mr Noel Dempsey, to inform the Council of the recently agreed Ireland/UK functional airspace block (FAB). This is the first FAB to be established within the framework of the European Single European Sky legislation. It is a demonstration of the two countries’ commitment to delivering the Single European Sky initiative. The FAB is designed to deliver real operational efficiencies irrespective of existing national airspace boundaries.