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Informal Meeting of EU Transport Ministers

Volume 506: debated on Monday 22 February 2010

An informal meeting of EU Transport Ministers took place on 12 February 2010 in La Coruña, Spain. I represented the United Kingdom. The two topics for discussion were aviation security and the Commission’s action plan on urban mobility.

The priority on aviation security was to discuss the additional security measures introduced in member states post-Detroit and the future evolution of aviation security within the EU. The UK, along with most member states, highlighted the need for a review and reinforcement of EC current baseline measures and the application of new technologies, including but not limited to advanced imaging technology (AIT), subject to appropriate safeguards. It was noted that the European Commission would shortly be producing a report on the use of new technologies (including AITs), as a first step to a future legislative proposal to allow their use as a primary screening technology within the EU, a move supported by the UK. The presidency emphasised that the threat posed a global challenge which required a single response and that technology must play a fundamental role in EU strategy to protect the public. The presidency expressed satisfaction at the consensus reached, which would be developed in a joint strategy within the framework of the European Union. The UK will be participating in further EU, ECAC and ICAO meetings over the next few weeks and months to continue to work internationally to build on existing aviation security standards and using and developing new technology, in order to make things harder for the terrorist, but to continue to facilitate and protect genuine passenger journeys.

On the action plan on urban mobility, the priority was to prepare draft conclusions which will be considered at the Transport Council in June. The UK joined several other member states in supporting the principles of the action plan, in particular, the Commission’s approach of promoting and supporting the development of sustainable urban mobility policies, while maintaining that the principle of subsidiarity is vital in the field of urban transport. The presidency emphasised the need to implement sustainable plans to promote greater integration of infrastructure planning and to find alternatives to the use of private vehicles through the use of public and non-motorised means of transport. The UK agreed that there is a role for the Commission to play in overcoming the lack of evidence surrounding urban mobility and facilitating the exchange of best practice. An observatory, as suggested in the action plan, could achieve this goal, but it is vital that it has clear terms of reference, objectives and a work programme agreed by member states. The UK position remains clear that the action plan should not lead to further legislation, and that cities and city regions should retain the freedom to pursue and implement locally relevant solutions.