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 Full text 
Tuesday, 20 April 2010 - Strasbourg OJ edition

Disruption of air traffic in Europe (debate)

  Ivo Belet (PPE). (NL) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, good morning. We are dealing with exceptional circumstances here, of course. The current disruption to air traffic is more severe than that around the time of 9/11, but it is clear that we were not as well-prepared as we could have been for such an emergency situation. Despite all the efforts made by the tour operators and airline staff, many passengers have simply been abandoned to their fate and have had to cobble together a solution on their own. We clearly have to learn from this situation and take appropriate measures.

Mr President, Commissioner, first of all, we have no choice but to adopt an emergency plan, a European-coordinated plan. What is key here is that the plan must provide stranded passengers with not just safety, of course, but information and help, as well, so that those who are affected, at the very least, have someone they can turn to and are guaranteed shelter. We have to seize on these events in order to substantially improve the fate of any passengers affected in the future. In the past few days, another thing that has become clear is that we in Europe are going to have to invest an awful lot more in creating a cross-border high-speed rail network, which would provide an environmentally friendly alternative to what is clearly a vulnerable air transport network. Let us make real efforts, within the framework of EU 2020, to bring about a compelling investment rail project which will be good for the individual citizen, good for the environment and good for employment.

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