HC Deb 20 April 1994 vol 241 cc526-7W
Mr. Lester

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what were the results of the Transport Council held in Luxembourg on 18 April.

Mr. MacGregor

The Transport Council met in Luxembourg on 18 April. I represented the United Kingdom.

The Council had further discussions following the wise men's report on the airline industry. The Commission will present an action plan to the June Council. There is increasing support for the United Kingdom position on the need to implement in full the third aviation package and to have new Commission guidelines to deal with state aids.

Although there was some support for the United Kingdom view that the work on the opening of negotiations on air and road transport agreements with Switzerland should be resumed, further discussion was postponed until after the General Affairs Council in May has considered the wider implications of the recent Swiss referendum on lorry transit.

The Council asked for the draft directive on Community railway licensing to be further developed. Most member states, including the United Kingdom, favoured restricting its scope to operators of international services. More detailed discussions will take place before the proposal returns to the Council.

The Council remitted for further consideration by officials a proposed directive on transport of dangerous goods by road which seeks to extend to transport within a member state the provisions of a European agreement on such transport internationally.

The Council instructed the Commission to open negotiations on road transit with Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania; and asked officials to consider further a mandate for wider negotiations on road transport with central and eastern European countries.

The Commission reported on progress on the continuing negotiations with east European countries on an agreement for the inland waterway sector. The Commission presented its proposal for a decision establishing guidelines for trans-European transport networks covering all modes of transport. I welcomed the proposal while highlighting the United Kingdom concern that trans-European network funding should not distort competition. I also mentioned that the United Kingdom would be likely to request changes to the United Kingdom network following the United Kingdom national roads programme review.

Other matters mentioned included Commission discussions with the United States of America on aviation and maritime issues and progress in the working groups on road safety. I undertook to send colleagues copies of the Donaldson report on the protection of the United Kingdom coastline from pollution from shipping when it is published. I propose to place it on the agenda for the next Council in June.

No votes were taken on any of the items.