- Crisis exit strategy for transport will soon be available
- Fragmentation of support measures should be avoided
- MEPs demand that passengers’ rights be respected in all member states
Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee calls for more support for the sector, urging the Commission to coordinate recovery measures across the EU.
In a debate on Tuesday with Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean, MEPs raised a number of persisting problems facing the sector that have been caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Better coordination and a crisis exit strategy
Members insisted on much closer cooperation and a common approach in the European Union to avoid the type of unilateral and uncoordinated action by individual member states that nearly led to a breakdown of the single market, when the containment measures were first introduced.
Commissioner Vălean told MEPs that a relief package for the transport sector will be tabled in the coming days and a dedicated crisis exit strategy will be presented as soon as possible. “The Commission is working on a set of recommendations to facilitate this coordination and to avoid fragmentation,” she said. This upcoming guidance to coordinate EU efforts will include various modes of transport as well as safety measures, e.g. social distancing rules and cleaning of vehicles.
Passenger rights and liquidity for companies
Many MEPs insisted during the debate that passengers’ rights must be respected and consumers must retain the possibility to be reimbursed. The Commission has to clarify any remaining ambiguity so that these rights are respected in all member states, they said.
The Commissioner said that vouchers should be made more attractive to consumers and guaranteed by the state. She said that with various funds made available, as well as state aid rules being temporarily more flexible, “member states are free to decide how to design the measures and help companies to survive”.
Wellbeing of transport workers
Several MEPs brought up the worsening working conditions for transport workers who are dealing with longer hours and little safety and personal protective equipment. The Commissioner argued that, despite the relaxed rules on driving and rest times, workers’ health and safety remain a priority.
Tourism sector in crisis
MEPs reiterated their worries regarding the collapse of the tourism sector, as discussed with Commissioner Thierry Breton on 21 April. The Commission will propose additional measures and a recovery strategy for the tourism ecosystem ahead of the summer season.
The European Parliament stated, in its resolution on EU coordinated action to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences, that the transport and tourism sectors have been severely affected. MEPs called for action to ensure the health, safety and working conditions of transport workers and to support transport companies to survive the crisis.