Select Committee on European Union Forty-Ninth Report


Letter from the Chairman to the Minister for Transport the Rt Hon John Spellar

  Thank you for your letter dated 15 August, which Sub-Committee B considered at its meeting on 21 October.

  You appear to have negotiated a very much improved draft, one that recognises the particular circumstances and efficiencies in the UK port sector without prejudicing the basic thrust of the Directive towards market opening. You have also secured significantly extended transitional arrangements. We trust that these gains will not be lost during the second reading in the European Parliament. We are grateful to you for keeping us informed of the progress of this document.

22 October 2002

Letter from the Minister for Transport, the Rt Hon John Spellar to the Chairman

  My letter of 15 August 2002 informed the Committee of the political agreement reached at Transport Council of Ministers in June, on the proposed EC Directive on Market Access to Port Services ("the Directive"). The Council Common Position was adopted in November and has since received further consideration by the European Parliament ("EP"). This letter updates you on the current position.

  On 11 March 2003, following a plenary debate, the EP adopted 28 amendments. These have now been submitted to the Commission and:

    —  Further pressure on the Commission to produce clear state aid guidelines for the port sector.

    —  Mandatory authorisation of port service providers (ensuring compliance with a range of economic, social and environmental safeguards across Europe).

    —  Mandatory removal of any service providers not complying with the above.

    —  Alignment of durations granted by virtue of port ownership with those of other service providers.

  Transport Working Group meetings to discuss the Parliament's opinion have been reconvened by the Greek Presidency. The early indications are the Commission and a significant number of Member States will strongly resist the majority of EP amendments. The Commission is expected to provide a formal reaction on the EP amendments shortly.

  With the Directive now taking a clearer shape, Department officials are working on a Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA), which will incorporate contribution and views from the UK port sector including the trade unions and other Government Departments.

16 April 2003

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