§ Chris Grayling
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on European discussions about liberalisation of public transport, as discussed at the Barcelona Summit. 808W
§ Mr. Spellar
The Barcelona European Council conclusions called for the adoption by December 2002 of the Regulation on public service contracts. This proposal is intended to stimulate more efficient and attractive public transport through the use of regulated competition and other measures and to promote legal certainty for authorities and operators. Several Council working groups have already taken place, and further meetings are scheduled. The Commission gave a progress report on the proposal to the Transport Council on 26 March 2002. Ministers have also discussed the draft Regulation during, a number of bilaterals with their European counterparts. The European Parliament has yet to schedule a date for further debate on the proposal.
The European Council in Barcelona also called on the Council to pursue work on the second railways package. The Commission's second railways package, published on 23 January, includes a proposal to complete liberalisation of the rail freight market by extending it to all domestic traffic including cabotage. The package also envisages further liberalisation of the passenger market, on which the Commission expects to bring forward specific proposals as part of its programme for the next five years. There was an initial Ministerial discussion of the package at the March Transport Council, but so far no further discussions have been scheduled.