TRAN discusses 4th Railway Package
On 14 October, the Transport and Tourism (TRAN) Committee of the European Parliament held a meeting focussing on the consideration of amendments to the six different reports of the 4th Railway Package.
With regard to governance, amendments ranged from deleting all provisions regarding the separation of the infrastructure manager from service operations to the removal of the option for Member States to maintain integrated railway companies under certain conditions. The former would represent a backwards step compared to current legislation. The latter would mean a completely separate structure EU-wide, going beyond the Commission's proposal. The Rapporteur of this report, Saïd El Khadraoui (S&D/BE;photo) wanted to avoid a dogmatic discussion and seek possible and broadly accepted compromises.
MEPs highlighted the common goal of ensuring a high quality, safe and affordable public rail transport when opening the market for domestic passenger services (PSO regulation). Furthermore, different MEPs expressed their opinion on the right balance between public services and open access services as well as on awarding public service contracts directly rather than organising a tender. Direct awards were seen by some MEPs as seriously hampering competition, while, for others, this would enable authorities to ensure attractive and efficient public transport. Views on the transition period varied from 2019 to 2029 as the final date.
Finally, MEPs stressed that ERA’s role should be strengthened in relation to interoperability. Financial or budgetary concerns should not be used as an excuse for not supporting a strong European agency with new competences. ERA could finance its new tasks and needs through the fees charged for the provision of its services. Moreover, MEPs expressed broad agreement on the fact that more decisions on railway safety should be taken by the European Railway Agency (ERA). However, it will be crucial to find the right relation between ERA and the National Safety Authorities (NSAs).
TRAN Committee will have a vote on the six reports on 26 November while the vote of the EP Plenary is expected in January 2014.
Timetable foreseen for the next TRAN meetings related to the Port Services Regulation:
Mini-Hearing: 5 November 2013
Presentation of draft report: 25 November 2013
Deadline for amendments: 3 December 2013
Vote in TRAN Committee: 11 February 2014
Vote in plenary: March 2014