HC Deb 08 July 1996 vol 281 cc76-7W
Mr. David Atkinson

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what was the result of the Transport Council held in Luxembourg on 17 and 18 June. [36228]

Sir George Young

The Transport Council met in Luxembourg on 17 and 18 June. I represented the United Kingdom on the first day and my noble Friend the Minister for Aviation and Shipping did so on the second.

The Council took a vote on one item, a mandate for the Commission to open negotiations with the United States on the regulatory framework for a possible future EU-US common aviation area. This was opposed by the United Kingdom but was approved with the support of other member states. The mandate is restricted to negotiations on "soft rights" such as competition rules and ownership and control of airlines. Any second stage, including a mandate for negotiations on "hard rights" such as market access, would require a separate Council decision. Member states retain the right to conduct bilateral negotiations with the US while Community-level negotiations are under way.

The Council reached agreement with the European Parliament in the conciliation procedure on guidelines for the Trans-European transport network. The next stage is for the Council and the European Parliament to adopt the agreed text, formally and separately, to bring the guidelines into force.

The Council reached political agreement on a proposed directive concerning the safety of domestic passenger ferries. The Council also reached political agreement on a draft directive to harmonise codes used to record information on driving licences.

The Council discussed a directive to extend until 2001 the present arrangements for harmonisation of summer time start and end dates, but deferred a decision until its October meeting.

The Council agreed a mandate for the Commission to negotiate an agreement between the Community, the European organisation for the safety of air navigation— Eurocontrol—and the European Space Agency on a European contribution to a global navigation satellite system.

The Council agreed general conclusions accepting a report on aviation safety, which was presented to the Council by the Commission, and calling for further work.

The Council discussed four policy papers prepared by the Commission, on air traffic management, the external costs of transport, public passenger transport, and maritime strategy.

The Commission presented progress reports to the Council on its negotiations with Switzerland on land and air transport, and on the work of the research task forces on intermodality and the train of the future.

The United Kingdom blocked a number of "A" points submitted for adoption by the Council in accordance with the Prime Minister's statement of 21 May.

Mr. Allen

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what preparations he has made for Her Majesty's Government presidency of the Council of Transport Ministers; and if he will make a statement. [35916]

Sir George Young

Officials are considering the administrative implications of the United Kingdom's presidency of the Council of Ministers in the first half of 1998. No formal preparations have yet been made in relation to the Transport Council.

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