Examination of witnesses (Questions 40
THURSDAY 4 JUNE 1998
WALDEN and MR
40. I understand that. If I may develop
that point. What would be the first three incremental steps you
(Sir Michael Bishop) I think first of all in geographical
Europe, that is European countries not presently within the European
Union, and adjacent countries who may or may not in the future
come into the European Union. I think if the European Community
developed specifically more experience and more administrative
knowledge in that area that would be a good start.
41. For our neighbours?
(Sir Michael Bishop) For neighbour states in geographical
Europe and possibly adjacent countries like Turkey and possibly
some of the former CIS states. I think if as a first stage the
European Community took more and more responsibility within geographical
Europe that probably would be the first incremental stage and
one could see how that developed and what the difficulties were.
Perhaps at a much later stage when their abilities were tested
in that area it then possibly would be the moment to approach
the much wider issue of dealing with relations outside geographical
42. I understand that. Would there be any
other incremental programme that you would think appropriate?
(Sir Michael Bishop) Possibly greater consultation
between Member States than there is at the moment would be helpful.
Everybody is retreating to their castle at the moment and trying
to repel the border and I think the Government's case in fairness
is probably very similar to documents which are circulating in
other European countries. I do not think this is a unique view
we are taking here. I think greater acceptances of the European
Union role in this area would be helpful.
43. You are talking about inter-government
(Sir Michael Bishop) Yes.
44. Do you see an inevitable conflict between
the two Directorates-General, between DGIV and DGVII?
(Sir Michael Bishop) They are giving a very good
impression of it at the moment, I have to say, in the issue of
the Slots Directive which we have been waiting for now for very
nearly two years which has been held up entirely because of a
difference of view between the Directorates. My understanding
of Brussels is that this is not an unusual scenario. It is not
confined to our industry. I believe there are differences in opinions
in the Commission in every department but this is one particular
issue which has affected badly the airline industry because we
need the Slots Directive urgently and it has been unnecessarily
delayed because of differences between the two Directorates.
(Sir Lenox Hewitt) It is a reflection of the normal
inter-departmental processes of discussions and conference and
even civil wars that go on.
Chairman] Sir Michael,
I am very conscious of the time; you have given us a lot of it.
I know Lord Marsh has one more point and I have one more point
and then we must close.
45. I know we have attributed this to the
administrative inexperience of the staff but the staff of the
Commission are highly qualified people, whatever one thinks. I
am struck by the fact when we have had different reports, for
example on a freight railway through Europe, a much bigger problem
seems to me to be the fundamental position of, say, the French
government because if it is a question of inexperience I would
have thought that would take far less than 20 years to overcome.
It seems to me it is much more a fact it is the built in fundamental
policy of some governments within Europe.
(Sir Michael Bishop) If I may first of all say
that there is a big difference between the description of "highly
qualified people" and practical experience. These two have
to be matched on the software and I think that is one of the problems.
I also should say our experience has been, and we have probably
run more cases through Brussels than any airline, from the outside
even compared to national governments' workloads and departmental
workloads, that the workload of the Commission is enormous and
they have to have an almost random selection of the cases they
want to pursue with vigour. One of the problems is you have to
persuade them that your case is one they should take their time
on. In many senses in national governments all cases are reviewed
more carefully and they pay more individual attention to your
case and they have more time and more people to do it. In particular
the DGIV workload seems to be enormous. It is quite difficult
to attract the Commission's high profile attention to a particular
subject and that is why cases take so long to progress to the
Commission and often by the time they are resolved a person who
is complaining has been irreparably damaged and you cannot recover
the situation even if you get a favourable ruling from the Commission.
The speed of investigation needs to be accelerated considerably.
46. Sir Michael, the impression that I have
got certainly from your very good answers and the very good answers
from your colleagues is that the Regulations as they stand are
too wide when they simply refer to "third countries"
and the position that you would prefer is that they should refer
to those third countries within geographical Europe and adjacent
to the European Union but not beyond. Would that be fair?
(Sir Michael Bishop) Yes.
Chairman] Thank you
very much indeed. We are extremely grateful to you and to your