HL Deb 25 June 1998 vol 591 cc47-9WA
Lord Gregson

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What was the outcome of the Transport Council held in Luxembourg on 17 and 18 June. [HL2427]

Baroness Hayman

My right honourable friend the Minister for Transport chaired the final Transport Council of the UK Presidency in Luxembourg on 17–18 June. My right honourable friend the Minister for Transport in London represented the United Kingdom.

All our objectives were met. The Council adopted two negotiating mandates, reached a common position on one legislative measure and agreement on four others (pending receipt of the European Parliament's opinion), agreed two sets of Conclusions, and held useful discussion in some important areas.

Safety was a key theme. As chairman, we presented a paper by the UK presidency on Transport Safety in the European Union. Following discussion of this paper by Ministers, the Commission accepted an invitation to produce a first report in 1999 on transport safety across all modes in the EU.

Two important negotiating mandates were adopted by the Council. The first of these authorised the Commission to start negotiations, on behalf of the European Community and the Member States, towards the establishment of a new pan-European international organisation, to be known as the European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA). The second mandate authorised the Commission to negotiate Community membership of the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation (EUROCONTROL).

The Council reached a common position on a draft regulation amending Regulation 2299/89 on a code of conduct for computerised reservation systems (CRSs) in air transport.

The Council reached Conclusions welcoming a draft regulation amending Regulation 295/91 on Denied Boarding compensation in scheduled air transport, and calling for a decision on it at an early Council. The proposed amendment would strengthen the rights of passengers who are denied boarding to overbooked aircraft.

The Council also reached Conclusions supporting action at global level through the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) on the limitation of emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) from jet aircraft engines, though noting that the possibility of Community legislation remains open if ICAO fails to agree worldwide rules. Council also reached broad agreement, pending receipt of the European Parliament's opinion, on the main elements of a draft directive to limit the use of re-certified civil jet aircraft, usually modified by the fitting of "hush-kits". Council agreed that the draft directive be transformed into a regulation, to facilitate early implementation.

The Council reached broad agreement on draft directives on roadside inspection of commercial vehicles, and on harmonisation of examination requirements for safety advisers for the transport of dangerous goods by road, rail or inland waterway, pending receipt of the European Parliament's opinions.

The Council continued the discussion begun at the Informal Council in April on the Commission Communication proposing step-by-step opening of the rail freight market.

The Commission reported on progress with developing legislative proposals to extend working time rules to the road transport sector.

In maritime transport, the Council reached broad agreement, pending receipt of the European Parliament's opinion, on a directive requiring safety inspection of passenger ferries, the last of a series of measures brought forward in the wake of the 1994 "Estonia" tragedy. The Council also debated the Commission's Green Paper on ports and maritime infrastructure. There was widespread support for the Commission giving priority to further work on principles for port and maritime infrastructure charging and financing, including an inventory of public funding, and on a regulatory framework for port services.

There was also a first exchange of views on two recent Commission proposals on the crewing of vessels operating regular passenger and ferry services within and between member states.

During the Council, on behalf of the European Community, Commissioner Kinnock and ourselves signed a tripartite agreement, with the Directors-General of EUROCONTROL and the European Space Agency, on a European contribution to a Global Navigation Satellite System.