EU Transport Council

Transport written statement – made on 18th December 2012.

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Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport

I will attend the last Transport Council of the Cypriot presidency (the presidency) taking place in Brussels on Thursday 20 December.

The Council will be asked to reach a general approach on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and the Council on periodic road worthiness tests for motor vehicles and their trailers and repealing directive 2009/40/EC. I was very concerned when we first received the proposal from the Commission. The Commission’s impact assessment was inadequate and failed to make the required links between the costs and benefits of new requirements. It was also incomplete as it did not accurately assess costs in all member states. Our initial analysis was that it would cost over £1 billion pounds to implement while having an insignificant positive impact on road safety in the UK.

The position we adopted during the negotiation of the draft periodic roadworthiness regulation at Council working group meetings has been to resist additional burdens where insignificant road safety benefit was identified. With the support of the UK and other member states in resisting excessive burdens, the presidency has proposed moving from a regulation to a directive and has made substantial changes to the text that radically simplifies the implementation of the proposal.

Progress has been positive and has resulted in a substantially improved and less expensive proposal and as such I hope the presidency will be able to achieve a general approach on the dossier.

The presidency will provide a progress report on two other proposals.

The first is the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the connecting Europe facility. The UK abstained from the partial general approach agreed on this dossier at the June Transport Council. While we were broadly supportive of the text of the regulation we could not formally support agreement to the draft regulations in advance of an agreement on the overall multi-annual financial framework (MFF) negotiations as this could prejudge the overall MFF budget.

The second is the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the implementation and exploitation of European satellite navigation systems. The UK supports the thrust of the proposal in introducing a clearer, stable governance arrangement for the programme but has concerns that some of the European Parliament’s proposed amendments, such as the introduction of funding for applications to use the navigation systems, could have significant financial implications.

The Council will adopt conclusions on the communication on “EU’s External Aviation Policy—Addressing Future Challenges”. The UK welcomed this timely communication from the Commission and has been actively engaged in the drafting of Council conclusions. We support the broad aims of the communication—liberalisation of aviation and fair competition—and we are pushing to ensure that the Council’s conclusions reflect this.

The Council will also adopt a proposal for a Council decision on the signature, on behalf of the EU, and provisional application of the Euro-Mediterranean aviation agreement between the EU and its member states, on the one part, and the state of Israel, on the other. The UK supports the signature and implementation of this agreement which forms a part of the EU’s external aviation policy to negotiate comprehensive air services agreements with neighbouring countries. This agreement will supersede the current bilateral agreements between individual member states and Israel. It aims at gradual market opening, promoting regulatory (e.g. safety) harmonisation and the promotion of open and fair competition between air carriers.

This agreement will integrate the Israeli aviation market into the European single market accompanied by convergence with EU aviation regulations. It will enhance opportunities for EU airlines and investors in Israel, provide consumer benefits as a result of increased competition and better access, and help to strengthen the economic links between the EU and Israel.

Under any other business, the Commission will provide information on the cleaner power for transport package and aviation emissions trading scheme (ETS).