||European Parliament elections 1999
Important points 1994-1999
Solid progress on transport
In EU transport policy, Parliament's top priority is safety.
Thanks to Parliament, much has been achieved on the safety front for citizens
travelling in the EU by land, sea, and air. A European Action Plan for Road
Safety has been started and legislation adopted with the aim of improving car safety
standards. Progress has been made on driving licences in the Member States, technical
inspection of vehicles, the transport of dangerous goods and speed-limiting devices for
heavy goods vehicles.
"Safety first" has also been the guiding principle
in air transport. Parliament helped to shape the rules to ensure that inquiries take place
into all civil aviation accidents and incidents and to provide travellers with more
information on civil aviation accidents. There must be no secrecy and airlines from non-EU
countries must meet the same safety standards as those from the Member States. The use of
obsolete aircraft, often from third countries, has been further reduced. Better protection
for passengers has also been achieved with the introduction of compensation in cases when
they have not been allowed to board.
Safety at sea has also been noticeably improved, again thanks
to Parliament. The introduction of port state controls has allowed standards to be laid
down for sea-going vessels in all Member States. Perhaps just as important, identical
inspection systems have been introduced in all countries. The prime objective is to
protect the environment and the safety of sea-travellers. Parliament successfully urged
that these standards be tightened up. A great deal of effort was also put into harmonising
training standards for seafarers. A widespread view among MEPs is that the EU's young
people should be encouraged to rediscover the attractions of this occupation.
Liberalisation and harmonisation
Parliament has been especially active on cabotage (i.e.
transport services provided by carriers operating in a Member State other than their own)
of both passengers and goods by road. It has also taken a keen interest in the safe and
proper management of airports and in the enforcement of rules allowing fair competition
between the various modes of transport. A great deal of work has been done to enable a new
digital tachograph to be introduced and modern technology will be used to eliminate
tachograph fraud. This will make it possible - so Parliament hopes - to monitor driving
and rest times for drivers of both buses and lorries. Proper working conditions will thus
prevail in this sector too, to the benefit of workers, bus passengers, loaders and - not
least - other road users.
In a broader context Parliament has expended great efforts on
ensuring good working conditions for employees, especially in the transport sector, who
are not covered by the Directive on working time. At present nearly all transport sectors
fall outside the Directive. Parliament has urged the Commission to put an end to this
undesirable situation and to make proposals based on agreements reached by European
employers' and workers' representatives. The Commission has recently presented proposals
for the road and sea sectors.
Trans-European Networks (TENs)
For the first time there is now a concrete, integrated and
coherent plan for the development of a European transport infrastructure, otherwise known
as the Trans-European Networks (TENs). Parliament has played an active role in this area
through the co-decision procedure. The main emphasis is now on environmental protection,
combined and intermodal transport, and the designation of a number of projects to improve
connections between remote areas and central regions of the EU. Parliament has also voiced
concern about progress in implementing the 14 priority TEN projects contained in the
Decision. Although many of these projects are well in hand, much remains to be done.
Parliament is favour of private/public partnerships to finance part of these projects and
has proposed new forms of long-term funding, as well as the availability of risk capitals,
for this purpose.
Parliament has stressed the need to increase the
efficiency and competitiveness of the rail system. It is energy efficient and has much
less impact on the environment than other modes of transport. At the end of the 20th
century transport policy must find a way of meeting the ever-increasing demand for
mobility and reverse the downward trend in recent years of railways' share of the
transport market. Parliament has been particularly active in proposing a phased
liberalisation and the creation of entities, separate from the operating companies, for
the management of the railway infrastructure.
Parliament was the driving force of the Third
Pan-European Transport Conference held in June 1997 in Helsinki. There were 1100
participants, from 51 countries, including many from the countries of central and eastern
Europe. The conference sketched out guidelines for a pan-European transport policy,
involving sustainable transport systems which are at the same time practical and meet the
economic and social needs of all Europeans, again taking account of environmental and
safety standards. The aim is to eliminate discrepancies between the regions, thereby
boosting Europe's economic efficiency. The high point of the conference was the
designation of ten transport corridors linking the EU, the countries of central and
eastern Europe, the Mediterranean bassin.
On the basis of the Commission's 1995 White Paper, Parliament
pressed ahead with its efforts to achieve a European tourism policy. The main objective
was to improve coordination between the activities of the Member States in the interest of
improving the economic and tax climate, thereby giving a boost to employment in this
Further information: Ton HUIJSSOON (Tel 0032-2-284 24 08 or E-mail: Thuyssoon@europarl.eu.int)
||WebMaster|Guide|© European Parliament||