Luxembourg 7 and 8 June 2012
The EU’s Council of transport ministers will meet in Luxembourg on Thursday 7 June under the Danish Presidency. From the European Commission, Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport and mobility, will present agenda items on the Connecting Europe Facility, measures concerning noise restrictions in EU airports, the results of the Blue Belt Pilot project as well as the implementation of the European Electronic Toll Service (EETS).On 8th June the telecommunications part of the Council will hold an orientation debate on telecommunication guidelines and re-use of Public Sector Information (PSI). The Commission will be represented by Vice President Neelie Kroes, responsible for the Digital Agenda. A press conference will be held at 13.30.
Connecting Europe Facility (CEF)
The Connecting Europe Facility is one of the key initiatives proposed by the Commission in the context of its package for delivering sustainable growth and jobs. According to the proposal, it shall fund €50 billion worth of investment to improve Europe’s transport, energy and digital networks. The Connecting Europe Facility shall finance projects which fill in the missing links in Europe’s transport, energy and digital backbone and remove bottlenecks. By focussing on transport modes that are less polluting, the Connecting Europe Facility will push our transport system to become more sustainable. It will also give consumers more choice about how they want to travel.
It is expected that the Council could reach an agreement in the form of a « partial general approach », excluding the question of funding amounts and some questions related to the financial instruments. The Commission appreciates the efforts of the Danish Presidency in reaching a balanced proposal as a basis for the ongoing inter-institutional discussions. The European Parliament is expected to vote on the proposal end-2012 or early 2013.
Noise is one of the three legislative measures proposed by the European Commission in December 2011 as part of the « Better Airports » Package (the other two are slots and ground-handling).
The Commission has proposed using ICAO requirements (the so-called « balanced approach« ) and EU best practice in noise management to become European law. This would even out disparities within the EU and ensure that certain processes are adhered to where measures are taken to mitigate air traffic noise. This would establish a European framework under which citizens would have a visible process in which to make their views known; national authorities would be required to follow clear parameters in taking decisions; and operators should get more predictability and legal certainty as a result.
The proposals include a quality check by the Commission on the process. This is fully in line with international requirements, and would leave decisions on the substance firmly in the hands of Member States. In addition, the proposal sets out how competent authorities could focus any restrictive measures on the noisiest aircraft of the fleet to alleviate air traffic noise.
The Presidency aims at reaching an agreement in form of a general approach on this text. Agreement on groundhandling was already achieved at the March Transport Council. The European Parliament is scheduled to vote at the end of 2012.
Blue Belt pilot project
The Commission has published a staff working paper summarising the evaluation of the Blue Belt pilot project together with an outline for the possible next steps. The Blue Belt pilot project, which deals with intra-EU maritime transport, delivered timely, accurate and consolidated information on the routes of vessels circulating between EU ports to customs authorities. This voyage tracking data will contribute to simplifying and coordinating control procedures for ships when arriving at ports. The aim is to reduce administrative burden and delays for ships operating only between EU ports.
The Council will hold a policy discussion on the possibility of extending the small-scale pilot project into a larger permanent tool that can be used to the benefit of both national authorities and the shipping industry.
Implementation of the European Electronic Toll Service (EETS)
EETS will greatly reduce the hassle first for truckers and later on for all road users by allowing them to easily pay tolls all over the European Union by means of a single on-board unit and a single service contract. This will result in fewer cash transactions at toll stations and the elimination of cumbersome procedures for cross-border users, thereby improving traffic flow and reducing congestion.
The EETS shall ensure the interoperability of all the electronic road tolling systems in the EU and will facilitate the introduction of new charging schemes. However the Commission will point out that the legal deadline of October 2012 is unlikely to be met and will urge Member States to increase their efforts.
As a first step towards an EETS with full European coverage, the Commission suggests supporting the regional deployment of EETS between the Member States with electronic toll systems on the networks carrying the main traffic flows and offers available EU financial assistance. The Commission reaffirms its commitment to take all the necessary measures to ensure the establishment of a truly pan-European interoperability of all the electronic road tolling systems, including through legal redress. Over the course of the summer, the Commission will publish a report on the progress and preparations made so far.
New way forward for Galileo satellite navigation
Ministers will be invited to adopt a partial general approach on the new framework for the financing and governance of the two European satellite navigation programmes Galileo and EGNOS (GPS signal augmentation) for the period 2014-2020 (Proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the implementation and exploitation of European satellite navigation systems).
Commission adopted the proposal on 30 November 2011, as part of the programme proposals for the next multi-annual financial framework 2014-2020. It is expected that the Transport Council on 7 June will reach a partial general approach on the proposal excluding the financing issues. This decision will reflect the Council position for negotiations with the other co-legislator, the European Parliament, after the summer.
The new regulation constitutes the basic act for the Galileo and EGNOS programmes during the new MFF-period 2014-2020 and foresees notably the funding and governance scheme for the implementation and exploitation of the systems under the Galileo and EGNOS programmes, such as the operations of the space and terrestrial infrastructures, the necessary replenishment/replacement activities, certification procedures, and notably the provision of services
The current GNSS regulation (683/2008), covering the period 2008-2013, will be repealed and replaced by the new regulation.
Trans-European telecommunications networks
A discussion will be held on a proposal concerning guidelines for trans-European telecommunications networks. Ensuring the availability of fast internet infrastructures and pan European services is a prerequisite for a truly Digital Single Market and for meeting the increasing demands of consumers to get online anytime, anywhere and on any device. Whilst the private sector will lead investments and bring these high speed networks to European consumers, policy makers must create a comprehensive, predictable and pro-investment framework covering both the demand and supply sides. The Connecting Europe Facility will boost investment and reduce investment risks through loans and support project bonds for broadband.
Re-use of public sector information
Ministers will hold an orientation debate on the Commission’s proposal on the re-use of public sector information and will note a progress report from the Presidency. The proposal updates the existing Directive from 2003. The three main new elements in the Commission’s amending proposal are the extension of the scope of the Directive to cover cultural institutions, the obligation to allow the re-use of existing accessible documents held by public sector bodies and changes to the charging rules for re-use.