HL Deb 04 April 1990 vol 517 cc1499-500WA
Lord Brougham and Vaux

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What was the outcome of the meeting of the European Community Transport Council on 29th March.

Viscount Davidson

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Transport attended the meeting of the European Council of Transport Ministers which was held in Brussels on 29th March.

A 40 per cent. increase in road haulage quotas was agreed for 1990. The Council also gave a commitment to take simultaneous decisions on the quotas for 1991 and 1992, and on the safeguard measures in the event of a crisis in the road haulage industry, at its next meeting in June.

The Council made further advances towards agreement of the second phase of aviation liberalisation. In particular it agreed on a zone scheme for fares, and so the treatment of region-to-region and hub-to-region services for capacity sharing purposes. Progress was also made on other aspects of the liberalisation package and several reservations were withdrawn. The Commission confirmed their intention of coming forward with proposals for dealing with anti-competitive practices in the context of the second package. The Council will return to the subject at its June meeting. There were also useful discussions on air traffic control and personnel licences in aviation. The Council agreed in principle that negotiations should get under way on a package of civil aviation measures with the European Free Trade Association, and further work will now be undertaken on the negotiating mandate.

We are glad to say that a debate on shipping cabotage enabled the Presidency to conclude that a proposal should be prepared for positive debate in June.

In a short discussion on the establishment of a transport infrastructure fund, the United Kingdom and the Federal Republic of Germany maintained their unequivocal view that, although the Community could assist in planning, there was no need for a fund as such since member states were best able to decide their own funding priorities. Again the Council agreed to return to the subject in June.

The June meeting of the Council will also consider again the issue of tax harmonisation, on which some helpful developments at the Council meeting were offset by the announcement by the Federal Republic of Germany that it intended to introduce, with effect from 1st July, a tax on foreign lorries travelling through Germany.

The Commission reported on the progress of negotiations with Austria, Switzerland and Yugoslavia on third country transit. There were discussions, but no conclusions, on the length of road trains, and on the hire of vehicles without drivers. The following topics were raised under other business: developments in East Germany and elsewhere in Eastern Europe; the liberalisation of bus and coach transport; marine pollution; the revision of AETR (the European agreement concerning the work of crews of vehicles engaged in international road transport); the width of vehicles; rail policy; drivers' hours; noise reduction around airports; and concerns about delays caused by customs staff at some borders.