Select Committee on European Union Fortieth Report


FREIGHT TRANSPORT SYSTEM—"MARCO POLO II" (11816/04)

Letter from Stephen Ladyman MP, Minister of State for Transport, Department for Transport to the Chairman

  I am writing to update your Committee on developments on the Marco Polo proposal, and to notify you of the possibility of a First Reading Deal with the European Parliament on this proposal.

  The Marco Polo II proposal was the subject of an Explanatory Memorandum dated 26 August 2004. This EM was considered by Sub-Committee B at its meeting on 13 September 2004, and you wrote to Tony McNulty on 15 September 2004[33] to advise of your intention to maintain the scrutiny reserve on this document-until the Financial Perspective is agreed.

  As stated in EM 11816/04, the Government generally welcomed the Commission's proposal but reserved its position on the proposed increased budget of €740 million (£490.32 million) until the overarching negotiations on the new Financial Perspective were agreed. As you know, discussions on the Financial Perspective continued into the Austrian Presidency. I can now confirm, however, that as a consequence of the negotiations on the future Commission budget, the programme will now receive €400 million (£274.38 million) per year, a much lower figure than originally envisaged and in line with the UK's objectives for both the overall budget and the Marco Polo 11 programme. This revised figure will now form part of the overall compromise to be agreed by the European Parliament and by the Council. The agreed figure will be subject to the normal annual review to take account of inflation.

  In recognition of the smaller figure, the text of Article 1 of the draft regulation has been revised. Instead of the programme achieving modal shift of the expected yearly aggregate increase of international road freight traffic to short sea shipping, rail and inland waterways, over the period 2007-2013, the programme will now achieve "a substantial part" of this shift. The UK has now withdrawn its formal reservation.

  The European Parliament's Plenary First Reading of the proposal will take place on 15 May and, following discussions with the Commission and the Presidency, it is thought that a First Reading Deal may be achievable because there was common ground on most of the text. At Committee level, the EP accepted all of the Council's arguments in respect of the budgetary thresholds and there are no major changes to the scope of the programme as a result of the EP's draft amendments. I will, of course, write again to inform the Committee of the outcome of the Plenary, and any further developments ahead of the Transport Council on 7-8 June.

9 May 2006

Letter from Stephen Ladyman MP to the Chairman

  Further to my letter of 9 May 2006, I am writing to notify you of the outcome of consideration by the European Parliament of the Marco Polo proposal and to ask if the Scrutiny Committee is now content to withdraw its scrutiny reserve.

  The proposed Regulation was the subject of Explanatory Memorandum 11816/04 dated 26 August 2004. This EM was considered by Sub-Committee B at its meeting on 13 September 2004, and you wrote to Tony McNulty on 15 September to advise of your intention to maintain the scrutiny reserve on this document until the Financial Perspective was agreed. My letter of 9 May informed you of the settlement and alerted you to a possible First Reading Deal with the European Parliament. I also promised to write to you again ahead of the Transport Council in June, once the result of the European Parliament's First Reading was known.

  The European Parliament's Plenary First Reading of the proposal took place on 16 May and as expected the Parliament has accepted the proposed First Reading Deal. As set out in my previous letter, the Deal was possible because there was common ground on most of the text and the European. Parliament accepted all of the Council's arguments in respect of the budgetary thresholds. There are no major changes to the scope of the programme as a result of the European Parliament's draft amendments. There are some minor changes which increase clarity and encourage sharing of good practice, and there is also a little more focus on encouragement of SMEs to participate. The Transport Council is now expected to discuss the proposal and the details of the First Reading Deal in June.

18 May 2006

Letter from the Chairman to Stephen Ladyman MP

  Thank you for your letter of 9 May, which Sub-Committee B considered at its meeting on 22 May.

  We are grateful to you for your update on the revised budget for the Marco Polo II Programme. We understand that the figure of €400 million which you quote in your letter is the overall, rather than the annual, figure; would you confirm this?

  We look forward to receiving an update from you following the Plenary First Reading in the European Parliament, which took place on 15 May, and on any other developments ahead of the June Transport Council. We will continue to hold this proposal under scrutiny.

23 May 2006

Letter from the Chairman to Stephen Ladyman MP

  Thank you for your letter of 18 May, which Sub-Committee B considered at its meeting on 5 June.

  We are grateful to you for your report on the First Reading in the European Parliament and are satisfied with the results achieved. We are content to lift scrutiny on this dossier at this stage.

6 June 2006




33   Correspondence with Ministers, 4th Report of Session 2005-06, HL Paper 16, p 73. Back


 
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