The French Government's decision to close the Bielsa tunnel to heavy-goods vehicles is causing serious concern throughout Aragon, and particularly in the province of Huesca, owing among other things to the tunnel's great importance for the tourist industry and for trade in livestock and agricultural products. When did the Commission become aware that this was going to happen?
The French Government unilaterally took the decision to restrict access for vehicles over 3.5 tonnes at the beginning of February. What is the body competent to take a decision of this kind?
What institution is competent to take a decision which, without neglecting safety aspects in relation to the tunnel's use, also takes account of the interests of Aragon?
The French Government's decision to close the Bielsa tunnel to heavy lorry traffic, to which the honourable member refers, was not notified to the Commission.
Decisions on traffic prohibitions or restrictions of this type fall within the remit of the Member States' authorities.
The Commission wishes, however, to state that any restriction on freedom of movement must be based on objective reasons and must not constitute an arbitrary form of discrimination. Moreover, the Commission wishes to reiterate its determination to guarantee the free movement of persons and goods, on which the proper functioning of the Internal Market depends.
The Commission will conduct an inquiry to ascertain on what basis the French authorities took such a decision.
With the objective of bringing about a degree of harmonisation in the area of restrictions on free movement, the Commission presented, on 23 November 2000, an amended proposal for a transparent system of harmonised rules relating to international heavy lorry traffic on specified routes(1)
. This proposal is at present being considered by Parliament.
The Commission does not exclude the option of proposing supplementary measures to ensure that the right to freedom of movement is respected throughout the territory of the EU.