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EU: Transport Council

Volume 704: debated on Thursday 16 October 2008

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

I attended the first Transport Council of the French presidency in Luxembourg on 9 October.

Following a debate on the draft conclusions presented by the presidency on the greening of transport, the council failed to achieve unanimity. It is likely that the council will return to this issue in December.

There was a policy debate on the proposal for a directive on cross-border enforcement in the field of road safety. A key issue in the debate was whether the proposal could be adopted under the first pillar, as currently intended by the presidency and supported by some member states, or whether it should be a third pillar (Justice and Home Affairs) issue. The UK expressed its view that the third pillar would be the correct legal base. Pointing out the UK’s strong record in this area, we recognised the concerns and underlying objectives of the proposal, but stressed that it was necessary to go forward with practical measures. The majority of member states supported a third pillar approach. Following this debate, work will continue in the working group and COREPER, and it is expected that the issue will return to the council in December.

The council agreed conclusions on third countries’ participation in the inclusion of aviation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, following agreement on the EC directive earlier in the year. The conclusions were acceptable to the UK.

The council adopted a decision authorising the Commission to open negotiations towards a Euro-Mediterranean aviation agreement with the Republic of Lebanon. The UK supports this negotiating mandate.

The council reached a general approach on an amendment to the regulation establishing a joint undertaking for the SESAR programme (technical implementation of the single European sky). The council also adopted a resolution launching the development phase of the programme. Both the amending regulation and the resolution are acceptable to the UK.

Under other business, the Commission gave a progress report on negotiations on the proposed EU/Canada air transport agreement. The UK supported the presidency's proposal that the Commission be asked to finalise negotiations on the emerging agreement and report back to the council on the outcome.

The council reached political agreement on proposals for directives on the responsibility of EU member states which are flag states and the insurance requirements of shipowners. These were substantially amended versions. Negotiations before and during the council led to further welcome amendments. The presidency and Commission also made clear that the European Parliament would only negotiate on the complete third maritime safety package with these two amended proposals included. Taking all of this into account, the UK supported the agreements on both of the significantly amended proposals.