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EU Transport Council

Volume 589: debated on Tuesday 2 December 2014

I will attend the last Transport Council under the Italian presidency (the presidency) taking place in Brussels on Wednesday 3 December.

The first item on the agenda will be a public debate on the draft Council conclusions on transport infrastructure and the Trans European Network. The UK has worked constructively with like-minded member states to help the Italian presidency develop these conclusions which seek to align transport with the EU 2020 strategy by recognising the value that investment in building and operating transport infrastructure and creating efficient networks can bring to growth and jobs. The UK will support the adoption of the conclusions as drafted.

Secondly, the Council will be asked to agree in principle a proposed Council decision authorising member states to sign the international convention on standards of training, certification and watch-keeping for fishing vessel personnel, of the International Maritime Organisation. This is a procedural decision giving member states permission to accede to the convention. It is necessary due to union competence over the mutual recognition of the qualifications of fishing vessel personnel by virtue of directive 2005/36/EC (which provides for mutual recognition across a range of professions). Some aspects of the decision as originally proposed were unacceptable to the UK, for example the use of inappropriate legal bases and a general lack of clarity over the scope of relevant competence. Through negotiation the UK has secured significant improvements to the decision and the UK is now content with the text to be agreed at Transport Council.

The presidency will aim for a general approach on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the implementation of the Single European Sky. The UK has been working hard with the Italian presidency and other member states to secure our objectives on this regulation. As a result I am pleased to say that we secured redrafting which has resolved the vast majority of concerns we had on this proposal. In terms of Gibraltar, our firm position is that it is part of the EU and must remain in the scope of EU aviation legislation such as SES. I expect further discussions to take place on this issue during the Council meeting.

Next on the agenda is a proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) 216/2008 in the field of aerodromes, air traffic management and air navigation facilities. This proposal is part of a package with the Single European Sky (SES II+) regulation and transfers some SES provisions into the European Aviation Safety Authority system in order to simplify and clarify the regulation framework for the safety of air traffic management. As such we were very supportive and had just a few concerns which we have been able to resolve. We are therefore ready to support this proposal.

After this will be a progress report on the proposal to amend directive 2012/34 establishing a single European railway area, as regards the opening of the market for domestic passenger transport services by rail and the governance of the railway infrastructure, and the related proposal to amend Regulation (EC) No 1370/2007 concerning the opening of the market for domestic passenger transport services by rail. The Government support the presidency on their progress report, which is a very thorough summary of discussions to date. The suggestions for future options form an excellent foundation and mean that an agreement on the market pillar is now within reach of future presidencies. It is important that the remaining barriers to the single market in rail services are addressed.

There will then be a general approach on the proposal to repeal Regulation 1192/69 on common rules for the normalisation of the accounts of railway undertakings. The UK supports the repeal of this regulation which has become outdated and inconsistent with more recent EU railway legislation. It is a welcome example of legislative simplification and deregulation.

Under any other business, the Commission will provide information on EU satellite navigation programmes. The presidency will provide information on the recent European Aviation Safety Authority event on remotely piloted aircraft systems. The Lithuanian delegation will provide information on the road transport situation in the context of detailed inspections of Lithuanian vehicles recently introduced by Russian authorities. Also, the Latvian delegation will provide information on the work programme of their forthcoming presidency of the Council of the European Union.