TRANSPORT, ENERGY AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS
COUNCIL 3-4 OCTOBER 2002
Letter from David Jamieson MP, Parliamentary
Under Secretary of State to the Chairman
I am writing to inform you that the next Transport
Council will take place on 3-4 October 2002. I attach a copy of
the draft agenda for your information. You will note that as it
stands there are four items on the agenda on which a policy commitment
may be sought. This is still very much a draft agenda, and will
be subject to change before the Council takes place. However,
I wanted to write in advance of the imminent Parliamentary Recess
to advise your Committee of progress that has recently been made
on the four dossiers for which political commitment is proposed.
NO 1692/96/EC ON
This was the subject of Explanatory Memorandum
12597/01, submitted to your Committee on 2 November 2001. The
EM was referred to Sub-Committee B on 6 November 2001 (1,080 sift),
who cleared it by letter on 19 March 2002.
I wrote to you on 11 June advising that the
Spanish Presidency would be looking to secure political agreement
on the TEN dossier at the June Transport Council. Although this
was not achieved, the Danish Presidency intends to work through
COREPER to make further progress and the prospects for reaching
political agreement at the October Council are reasonably goodat
least in so far as the main text is concerned.
However, there continue to be serious difficulties
arising from the Commission's proposal to change Annex III (ie
the list of priority projects agreed at the Essen and Dublin Councils).
A majority of Member States, including the UK, is against making
any change to the list until the more fundamental revision in
2004. But in the light of continuing Commission pressure, a number
of those Member States have now, without prejudice to their position,
requested further schemes for inclusion on the priority list.
The Commission intends to establish a high level group to consider
the relative merits of both the six projects it proposed originally
and the 16 other schemes put forward by Member States. It is highly
unlikely this issue can be resolved before December. The UK will
be maintaining its line that there should be no changes to the
list until 2004. Without prejudice to our position, we have, however,
proposed the East Coast Mainline rail project for inclusion on
any revised list. We will continue to argue that it is not appropriate
to subject the list of priority projects to co-decision procedures.
This was the subject of Explanatory Memorandum
5532/02 of 14 February 2002. The EM was cleared on 26 February
2002 (1,093 sift). The Presidency hopes to reach a General Orientation
or a Common Position in October.
The UK continues to support this proposal which
mirrors the European Civil Aviation Conference's Safety Assessment
of Foreign Aircraft Programme in which the UK actively participates.
The proposal has yet to be discussed in detail by the Council's
aviation working group and is expected to have its First Reading
in the European Parliament in early September.
This was the subject of my Explanatory Memorandum
of 13 February 2002 (EM5129/02). The EM was sifted to sub-Committee
D on 26 February 2002 (1093rd sift). It was not cleared, and details
of the outcome of the Government's consultation exercise were
The Spanish Presidency held on Working Group
meeting to discuss this proposal on 15 February, at which most
Member States raised concerns about the high levels of compensation
and the cost to airlines. Detailed consideration of the proposal
has begun under the Danish Presidency, which has held two meetings
since 1 July. The main point of contention continues to be the
levels of compensation. A number of Member States have expressed
interest in the levels suggested by the European Parliament's
300 for flights of less than 1,000 kilometres,
600 for flights of 1,000 kilometres or more but less
than 3,500 kilometres, and
900 for flights of 3,500 kilometres or more). The
Commission is currently reflecting upon this. The rapporteur's
proposals have yet to be adopted by the Parliament, which is forecast
to complete its first reading in October.
The Department had 13 responses to its consultation.
As expected, the airlines were most concerned at the levels of
compensation while the charter airlines were concerned about the
inclusion within the proposal of inclusive tour passengers travelling
on charter flights. This is an issue which the UK has raised at
Working Group, and for which several member states have expressed
support. All airlines were concerned at the lack of definition
of "cancellation" and at the lack of "exceptional
circumstances" clause in the article on delays. The Air Transport
Users' Council broadly supported the Commission's proposal.
The Department has prepared a provisional Regulatory
Impact Assessment (RIA) on the current proposal, which we hope
to submit for your consideration shortly. It is not possible to
be categorical in quantifying the financial costs to airlines
resulting from the proposal, though we can provide a range of
estimates. One leading European airline, for example, has calculated
that, as drafted, the proposal would double its costs for denied
boarding compensation to
15.6 million. However, given that the Commission
has stated its intention to reflect upon the levels of compensation,
we propose to delay submitting a formal RIA until the position
is clearer. The impact on airlines would also be significantly
different if their proposal to define "cancellation"
is accepted. [This is yet to be discussed in working groups].
The Presidency aims to reach political agreement
on the proposal at the October Transport Council. It is not yet
clear whether this is a realistic aim but if the proposal is ready
for political agreement by then, we would envisage placing a Parliamentary
This was the subject of my Explanatory Memorandum
of 11 March 2002 (EM 6093/02) which was sifted to sub-Committee
B on 19 March 2002 (1,096th sift). It was cleared from scrutiny
on 27 March 2002.
Despite the efforts of the Spanish Presidency,
Ministers were unable to reach political agreement on the proposed
Regulation at the Transport Council on 17 June. The Marco Polo
programme would offer Community financial support for modal shift
projects, with a budget of
85 million and various thresholds for different types
of eligible project. At the June Council I joined other Member
States in arguing that there should be a reduced budget. Since
that time, there has been little progress on this dossier. The
proposal is expected to have its First Reading in the European
Parliamentary in September.
16 July 2002
Letter from the Chairman to David Jamieson
Thank you for your letter dated 16 July which
Sub-Committee B considered at its meeting on 22 July.
It was very helpful to have the situation on
a number of documents, which have been subject to scrutiny by
Sub-Committee B and Sub-Committee D, in advance of the October
Transport Council. We look forward to hearing of any changes which
might occur between now and 3-4 October. We trust you will tell
us about decisions reached at the Council.
23 July 2002
Letter from John Spellar MP, Minister
of State to the Chairman
The transport segment of the Transport, Energy
and Telecommunications Council was held in Luxembourg on 3 October.
I represented the United Kingdom. This is a summary of the outcome.
Progress was noted on the Single European Sky and on the second
railway package, the Danish Presidency's main priorities. The
Presidency had hoped to reach agreement on Marco Polo and on the
proposed revision of the transport trans-European network guidelines,
but this was not achieved.
The Presidency gave a progress report on the
Single European Sky. It hoped that the key remaining issuescivil/military
co-operation, the legal base and the relationship with Eurocontrolcould
be resolved to allow agreement at the December Council. This was
endorsed by the Commission. The Presidency concluded that work
would continue towards a political agreement in December, in line
with the Conclusions of the European Council in Barcelona. We
have supported this initiative throughout and I very much hope
that agreement will be achieved.
The Presidency also gave a progress report on
the work being carried out to update rules for allocating take
off and landing slots, including, as a first stage, a proposed
amendment to Regulation 95/93. The Presidency and the Commission
agreed that progress was being made and hoped for agreement at
the December Council. In my intervention I noted the importance
of ensuring that slot allocation should be market-based and that
existing trading systems should not be ruled out.
The Council held a policy debate on the proposed
amendment to Regulation 295/91, on denied boarding compensation
for air passengers. Ministers were asked to reply to three questions.
The first asked whether the Regulation should apply to passengers
whose flight is part of a package tour. Most Ministers were able
to accept this, although a number had reservations. I was amongst
those who spoke against, pointing out that the situation of inclusive
tour passengers could form part of the imminent review of the
Package Tour Directive. However, the UK could accept application
to package tourists on scheduled flights. The second question
addressed the proposed levels of compensation. Again various views
were expressed, and the Commission agreed to be flexible on the
issue. The third question concerned the period of compulsory advance
notice to passengers. There was general agreement that this should
be seven days. The Presidency concluded that on the basis of the
points made in the debate, work should continue on the proposal.
The Commission presented a proposal to establish
minimum levels of insurance cover for air carriers entering Community
airspace. The intention was to ensure appropriate cover for all,
in line with existing international requirements, but with appropriate
flexibility for alternative arrangements where cover could not
Ministers considered the current situation in
the aviation insurance market. The Commission felt that the market
was now sufficiently re-established to negate the need for continued
state support. A number of Member States made it clear that they
wished to continue these schemes for the immediate future. The
Presidency noted that ECOFIN would examine the issue on 8 October.
It concluded that the Commission would examine any possible national
extensions, on a case-by-case basis, in line with the state aid
provisions of the Treaty. It also noted that work would continue
on the examination of the proposed ICAO mutual scheme ("Global
The Presidency gave a progress report on the
second package of railway proposals, and confirmed that this was
one of its highest priorities. It hoped for agreement in December
on the package, which includes the next stage of rail liberalisation
and related safety measures. There were still some issues to be
resolved, principally on the proposed European Railway Agency
and on the market access proposal. The Presidency asked for further
work to be done.
The Presidency sought political agreement on
the Regulation establishing the Marco Polo programme, which would
provide Community aid to improve the environmental performance
of freight transport (by promoting the movement of freight from
road to other modes). The discussion, which was held in public,
centred on the total budget. Following two rounds of formal voting
Ministers were able to agree on a level of Euro 65 million, but
the Commission could not agree. The Presidency concluded that
work would continue on the proposal.
In another public debate, the Presidency sought
political agreement on its proposed compromise on the draft revision
to Decision 1692/96 on guidelines for the development of the transport
trans-European network. Ministers were unable to agree on changes
to the list of priority projects at Annex III to the Decision
and work will continue on the proposal.
In a report on Alpine transit issues, the Presidency
noted the recent discussions between the countries most directly
involved, Austria, Italy, Germany and Greece, and that work was
underway in a series of working parties established amongst them.
The Commission said it would not issue further proposals on ecopoints.
It accepted that there were delays with its proposals on infrastructure
charging (which would preclude the need to extend the ecopoint
system), but these were now expected by the end of the year. The
Presidency concluded that there was hope for progress.
The Commission outlined the main points in its
Communication on the development of the Galileo satellite navigation
project: the establishment of the Joint Undertaking; service definition
and frequencies; and relations with third countries. It hoped
that disagreement on funding in the European Space Agency, which
is delaying the setting up of the Joint Undertaking, could be
resolved at the ESA Ministerial on 8 October. In the discussion
on service definition, I raised the problems which would be caused
by the Public Regulated Service (PRS), as envisaged in the Communication.
Agreement with the US on interoperability with GPS was necessary,
and there were provisions in the Communication which would render
this impossible. We remained unconvinced about the need for a
PRS. Following this discussion, the Presidency concluded that
COREPER would examine all outstanding questions. I will be submitting
to the scrutiny committees an explanatory memorandum on the Communication,
setting out in more detail our position on the PRS.
Under other business, Belgium presented a paper
outlining the problem of accidents to vulnerable road users as
a result of blind spots on heavy goods vehicles. The Commission
hoped that, by the end of the year, a Directive would be adopted
requiring the fitting to new vehicles of the mirrors necessary
to overcome the problem. It was examining the issue of retrofitting.
Two proposals were adopted as "A"
points, ie without debate. These were: the conclusion of the Interbus
agreement between the EC and 14 Central and Eastern European countries,
establishing rules for buses and coaches carrying out occasional
international services; and approval of the signing of an agreement
on maritime transport between the EC and China.
There were two formal votes at this Council,
both during the debate on the Marco Polo budget. I voted for the
Presidency compromise at the second vote.
17 October 2002
Letter from the Chairman to Mr John Spellar
Thank you for your letter dated 17 October reporting
on the Transport part of the Transport, Energy and Telecommunications
Council held in Luxembourg on 3 October. This was considered by
Sub-Committee B at its meetings on 14 October and 28 October.
We are very grateful for this summary of the outcome.
We note in paragraph 8 of your letter you refer
to the Presidency's hopes for an agreement in December on the
second package of railway proposals (covered by your Explanatory
Memoranda: 5721/02, 5723/02, 5724/02, 5726/02, 5727/02, and 5744/02).
Sub-Committee B considered these documents at its 26 meeting on
Monday 25 March. I wrote to you on 27 March saying that, while
we welcomed the proposals in principle, we needed to look more
closely at the detail. The Scrutiny reserve on these documents
has been maintained.
I should be grateful if you could give me a
detailed account of how far negotiations have progressed on these
documents, and how realistic the chances are of agreement in December.
30 October 2002