Select Committee on European Scrutiny Forty-First Report




Draft Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the granting of Community financial assistance to improve the environmental performance of the freight transport system — outcome of the European Parliament's first reading.

Legal base:Article 71(1) and 80(2); co-decision; qualified majority voting
Documents originated:2 October2002
Deposited in Parliament:10 October 2002
Basis of consideration:EM of 22 October 2002
Previous Committee Report:None; but see (23229) 6093/02 and (23230) 6140/02: HC 152-xxiv (2001-02), paragraph 11 (17 April 2002)
To be discussed in Council:December 2002
Committee's assessment:Politically important
Committee's decision:Cleared, but request to be kept informed


  13.1  The draft Regulation would implement the Marco Polo programme, which is intended to improve the environmental performance of the transport system by promoting the shift of freight from road transport to short-sea shipping and to rail and inland waterway transport.

  13.2  The draft proposes financial assistance for:

  • 'Modal Shift Actions' - support for non-road freight services;

  • 'Catalyst Actions' — support for actions to overcome 'structural' ( non-regulatory) barriers to the efficient functioning of non-road freight services; and

  • 'Common Learning Actions' - promoting co-operation in the freight logistics market.

The Commission originally proposed a budget of _115 million (£70.25 million) for the period 2003-2007. The proposed budget is now _85 million (£51.93 million). We cleared the original draft in April 2002.[24]

The document

  13.3  The draft regulation has now had its first reading in the European Parliament and this document sets out the European Parliament's proposed amendments. There are 27 of these falling into three broad groups:

  • detailed drafting changes not affecting the substance;

  • proposals for enhanced financial controls:

—   rules for withdrawal of financial assistance in case of non-compliance;

—   procedures for monitoring expenditure;

—   advancing the date by which the Commission must report on implementation of the programme;

  • reduced minimum subsidy thresholds:

—   Modal Shift Actions — minimum reduced from _1 million (£611,000) to _500,000 (£305,000);

—   Catalyst Actions — minimum reduced from _3 million (£1.83 million) to _1.5 million (£916,000);

—   Common Learning Actions — minimum reduced from _500,000 (£305,000) to _250,000 (£153,000).

The Government's view

  13.4  The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Mr David Jamieson) tells us, with reference to the European Parliament's proposed amendments:

A.  Textual amendments

"We regard these as optional clarifications which do not affect the substance of the proposed regulation and consequently have no policy implications.

B.  Financial controls

"The amendments have no policy implication and we could support them to the extent that they improve financial management.

C.  Thresholds

"The main beneficiaries of Marco Polo are likely to be Member States with high levels of transit lorry traffic and those, including peripheral Member States, who seek enhanced short sea links to neighbouring countries. We support the reduced thresholds because these would permit smaller 'value for money' schemes — including those which are more likely to benefit the UK."

  13.5  The Minister tells us that subject to agreement on the budget (we had heard earlier that the UK is amongst those Member States arguing that it should be less than the _85 million currently proposed) the Presidency hopes for Political Agreement on the draft Regulation by the December Council.


  13.6  We note the proposed improvements in the draft Regulation and are content to clear this document. But we should like the Minister to keep us informed of important developments.

24  See headnote. Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 25 November 2002