TRAN discusses Port Regulation, Weights and Dimensions and PBI

19 March 2014

On 17 March, the Transport and Tourism (TRAN) committee of the European Parliament held a discussion on the amendments to Knut Fleckenstein’s report on the Port Services Regulation.

TRAN Chair, Brian Simpson (S&D, UK) announced that the vote which was due to take place the following day was postponed and he asked the Rapporteur to explain the reasons.

Rapporteur, Knut Fleckenstein (S&D, DE - photo) stressed that the work has not been simple and that he has been in different ports in order to get feedback on the Port Regulation. He stated that the Port Regulation cannot be voted before the conclusion of the legislative period for different reasons.

First, there is no compromise on the scope of the market access chapter, where the Commission wants to take out passenger services and within the groups there are very different opinions. Thus, he did not want to risk voting without agreement in a key area. Secondly, the Ports Regulation is strictly linked to the Concessions Directive and State Aid modernisation process. While the Concessions Directive has been approved, there is no clear overview of the future outcomes of the state aid modernisation process. Moreover, it was also unclear what the plan of the Commission is as regards labour pools. He concluded by saying that the new TRAN committee will look at this issue and that he hoped that the work that has already been done, would be taken into consideration.

The other MEPs agreed with the analysis put forward by Mr Fleckenstein. They stressed that ports are part of the economic backbone of Europe and so they need enough leeway to develop themselves. Regarding the specifics, they came to an unanimous agreement to not proceed with the vote, claiming they need much more clarity before proceeding. The conclusion was that it is difficult to negotiate and approve this proposal without a better overview of other policy issues as regards ports, such as concessions and state aid modernisation.

Furthermore, on 18 March, the TRAN Committee approved the Jörg Leichtfried’s report on maximum weights and dimensions for road vehicles in the Community. The report pushes for more environmentally friendly trucks and buses. The draft rules would allow longer truck cabins if designed to cut emissions by improving aerodynamics or to prevent accidents. To encourage the use of less polluting motors, many of which are heavier and hence less commercially attractive than traditional ones, trucks and buses with low-carbon alternatives would be allowed to exceed the current maximum weight by up to one tonne, depending on the weight of the alternative system.

Moreover, the draft rules would make it easier to load standard 45-foot containers for use in combined road-rail or road-ship transport operations. On the issue of cross-border use of longer or heavier trucks, the Commission has been asked to produce a proper impact assessment and report back to Parliament and Council by 2016.

On the same day, the TRAN committee received a presentation from the Commission and European Investment Bank as regards the Europe 2020 Project Bonds Initiative (PBI). The PBI is a risk-sharing instrument, whose aim is to stimulate capital market financing for large-scale infrastructure projects in the sectors of trans- European networks in transport (TEN-T) and energy (TEN-E) as well as telecommunication and broadband networks. It is designed to enable eligible infrastructure projects promoters, usually public private partnerships (PPP), to attract additional private finance from institutional investors such as insurance companies and pension funds.

MEPs were concerned that there were not more rail or inland waterway projects involved in the pilot phase of the PBI. The Commission and the EIB confirmed that one of the short-term priorities is to improve the pipeline of projects in order to leverage the EU budget on a wider range of projects.

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