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EU: Transport Council

Volume 704: debated on Wednesday 8 October 2008

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Transport (Geoff Hoon) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

I will attend the first Transport Council of the French presidency, which takes place in Luxembourg on 9 October.

The council will be asked to agree conclusions following the Commission’s recent communications on the greening of transport, the strategy for the internalisation of external costs in transport and the reduction of rail noise on existing rolling stock. I expect to be able to agree to the conclusions.

In land transport, there will be a policy debate on the proposal for a directive on cross-border enforcement in the field of road safety. The UK supports the principle of cross-border enforcement, to address the issue of non-resident drivers escaping financial penalties for infringements committed in other member states. But there are practical and legal difficulties that will need to be overcome. Legislation must be practical, workable and effective in the way that it addresses these issues and it must be robustly based in law.

The UK was pleased to see that the directive on the inclusion of aviation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme was agreed by the European Parliament in July. The October council will be asked to agree conclusions on the participation of third countries. I expect to be able to agree to the conclusions.

The council will be asked to adopt a decision authorising the Commission to open negotiations towards a Euro-Mediterranean aviation agreement with the Republic of Lebanon. The UK supports the mandate, which is in line with others given to the Commission recently to negotiate comprehensive aviation agreements with a number of Mediterranean countries.

The final part of the aviation agenda relates to the SESAR programme for the technical implementation of the single European sky (air traffic management). The council will aim to achieve a general approach on a regulation amending regulation 219/2007, establishing a joint undertaking. The council will also be asked to adopt a resolution launching the development phase of the SESAR programme. The UK supports the priority given by the French presidency to making progress on the single European sky, including the council resolution. Our priority on SESAR is to establish suitable governance structures, clarity on funding and robust reporting processes.

The French presidency is keen to achieve political agreement on proposals for directives on the responsibility of EU flag states and the insurance requirements of ship owners. Following extensive negotiations, the presidency is seeking agreement at the council on a member state’s statement, and political agreement on substantially amended versions of the flag state and civil liability directives. However, it is our view that agreement on these proposals may be premature while there are ongoing negotiations with the European Parliament on the six proposals that have already achieved political agreement.