On 17 December, the European Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee (TRAN) adopted six legislative proposals that form the Commission’s proposed Fourth Railway Package paving the way for the creation of a Single European Rail area.
The new measures intend to improve domestic rail passenger services by opening up public service contracts to more competition, giving operators fairer access to infrastructure and harmonising safety certification to improve interoperability and get innovative new rolling stock on the rails faster. Furthermore, the new rules aim to ensure that public service contracts deliver the best possible value for money, by restricting their size and ensuring that they cannot be granted directly without justification. They would also simplify procedures for certifying the safety of new rolling stock and gradually transfer certification responsibilities to a European Railway Agency.
The European Parliament is expected to vote in plenary on the package in February 2014, while the Council will continue work on the ERA regulation and the proposals on market opening and governance during the Greek presidency.
On the same day, the TRAN Committee discussed the first two legislative steps aimed at implementing the NAIADES II programme; a Proposal for a Directive laying down technical requirements for inland waterway vessels and a Proposal for a Regulation on a Community-fleet capacity policy to promote inland waterway transport. MEPs welcomed the draft reports of Ms Corien Wortmann-Kool (PPE/The Netherlands). On the Community-fleet capacity policy, the Rapporteur encouraged the European Commission to investigate together with the sector how the funds could be used in conjunction with the financial instruments from the EIB and existing EU funds, such as CEF funds, in order to optimise the financial means dedicated to the sector. She also asked for a clear reference to intermodal freight logistics in order to reverse the current trend of declining waterways modal share. As regard technical requirements for inland waterway vessels, the draft report enhances the cooperation between the European Commission and the Central Commission for the Navigation on the Rhine (CCNR) in terms of organisation and procedures necessary to develop unified standards and consult experts.
The deadline for amendments is 15 January whereas the TRAN Committee will vote on 20 February.
Also on the 17 December, the Lithuanian Minister for Transport and Communications, Mr Rimantas Sinkevičius (photo), presented the closing remarks of the Lithuanian Presidency to the TRAN Committee. He highlighted that at the last Transport Council held on 5 December, a general approach to the Directive on alternative fuel infrastructure was reached. As regards maritime transport, he stressed that the General Affairs Council adopted a general approach on the Directive on Marine Spatial Planning (MSP), which enables efficient allocation and distribution of marine areas, as well as favours the development of various sectors such as maritime transport, renewable energy and tourism. Moreover, a general approach on the Regulation on funding for the action of the European Maritime Safety Agency was reached.
MEPs were grateful to the Lithuanian Presidency for the fruitful cooperation they have had.