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RECOMMENDATION FOR SECOND READING     
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17 February 1999
PE 229.597/fin. A4-0060/99
on the common position adopted by the Council with a view to adopting a Council regulation on a Community-fleet capacity policy to promote inland waterway transport (13585/1/98 – C4-0005/99 - 98/0281(SYN))
Committee on Transport and Tourism
Rapporteur: Agnes Schierhuber
At its sitting of 3 December 1998 Parliament delivered its opinion at first reading on the proposal for a Council regulation on a Community-fleet capacity policy to promote inland waterway transport.
 A DRAFT DECISION
 B. EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

 At its sitting of 3 December 1998 Parliament delivered its opinion at first reading on the proposal for a Council regulation on a Community-fleet capacity policy to promote inland waterway transport.

At the sitting of 14 January 1999 the President of Parliament announced that the common position had been received and referred to the Committee on Transport and Tourism.

At its meeting of 2 September 1998 the committee had appointed Mrs Schierhuber rapporteur.

It considered the common position and the draft recommendation for second reading at its meetings of 20 January and 17 February 1999.

At the last meeting it adopted the draft decision unanimously.

At the last meeting it decided to apply the procedure without debate pursuant to Rule 99(1) of the Rules of Procedure.

The following took part in the vote: Bazin, chairman; Wijsenbeek and Sisó Cruellas, vice-chairmen; Schierhuber, rapporteur; Aparício Sánchez, Baldarelli, Camisón Asensio, Castricum, van Dam, González Triviño, Jarzembowski, Klironomos, Lagendijk, Lataillade (for Donnay), McIntosh, Moreau, Paasio (for Swoboda), Piecyk, Rauti (for Le Rachinel), Sarlis, Schlechter, Schmidbauer, Seal, Simpson, Sindal, Stenmarck and Watts.

The recommendation for second reading was tabled on 17 February 1999.

The deadline for tabling amendments to the common position or proposals to reject it will be indicated in the draft agenda for the relevant part-session.


 A DRAFT DECISION

Decision on the common position adopted by the Council with a view to adopting a Council regulation on a Community-fleet capacity policy to promote inland waterway transport (13585/1/98 – C4-0005/99 - 98/0281(SYN))

(Cooperation procedure: second reading)

The European Parliament,

– having regard to the common position of the Council, 13585/1/98 – 98/0281(SYN),

– having regard to its opinion at first reading((1)) on the Commission proposal to the Council, COM(98)0541((2)),

having regard to the amended Commission proposal (COM(98)0792)((3)),

– having been consulted by the Council pursuant to Article 189c of the EC Treaty and Article 75(1) of the EC Treaty (C4-0005/99),

– having regard to Rule 67 of its Rules of Procedure,

– having regard to the recommendation for second reading of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (A4-0060/99),

1. Approves the common position;

2. Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Council and Commission.

(1) Minutes from 3.12.1998, Part II, Item 5.
(2) OJ C 320, 17.10.1998, p. 4
(3) OJ C 15, 20.1.99, p. 15


 B. EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

BACKGROUND

1. The European Parliament adopted this proposal in first reading on 3 December 1998(1), after been consulted by the Council on a Community-fleet capacity policy to promote inland waterway transport.

2. The proposal aims at replacing Council Regulation (EEC) N° 1101/89 on structural improvements in inland waterway transport(2), which ceases to apply after 28 April 1999; proposing to extend in part this Regulation, the Commission seeks to maintain the market situation and to avoid serious disturbances by introducing transitional arrangements for a maximum period of five years. This would avoid that the effects of the scrapping measures operating since 1990 are nullified by the introduction of the free market in this sector.

3. Thus, the system carried out since 1990, i.e. the "old for new" system is retained but the ratio will be gradually reduced over a period of five years, removing all conditions attached to putting new vessels into service. After this is achieved, the capacity regulation system will be replaced by a monitoring system and a standby mechanism which, solely in the event of a serious crisis on the market, will allow the "old for new" rule to be revived, with or without structural improvement measures.

PARLIAMENT'S POSITION

4. In its first reading, Parliament proposed a total number of seven amendments, aiming at clarifying certain points of the Commission's proposal as well as increasing its efficiency. Thus, amendments number 2, 3, 4 and 7 were intended to clarify the notions of bringing into service new capacity, instead of new vessels, of the structural improvement measures to which this sector's vessels would be subject as well as the meaning of the serious disturbance in the market which is required in order to reactivate the "old for new" rule.

5. A number of other amendments were intending to extend the proposal, either by including the scrapping scheme (number 1, 2, in part and 7) or to reduce to 12 months the 18 month period proposed by the Commission for bringing new vessels into service (amendment number 5) or by stipulating that the crisis mechanism can be applied only after the transitional period (amendment number 6).

COMMON POSITION

6. While the Commission incorporated into its amended proposal only two of the seven amendments (numbers 4 and 5), the Council's common position includes in addition part of amendment 2 as well as the positions expressed in amendments 3 and 1.

7. In addition, the Council reduces the maximum period of application of the "old for new" rule from five to four years starting from 29 April 1999, provides for the ratio to be continually reduced to bring it as quickly as possible and in regular stages to zero, follows the Parliament's position on small vessels by giving the option to Member States to exclude vessels under 450 tonnes from the scope of the Regulation and clarifies that the reserve fund will be financed solely by the industry.

8. Finally, the Council deleted Article 9 of the Commission's proposal dealing with the negotiations which the Community should initiate with Switzerland concerning the implementation of this Regulation. The Council thought that such a mandate for negotiations cannot be given to the Commission via a Community legislative act. Such negotiations are necessary in order to achieve an agreement with Switzerland on the implementation of similar measures for vessels sailing on interconnected inland waterways, but the procedure provided for in the Treaty should apply.

REMARKS

9. As shown in the above analysis and comparison for Parliament's first reading with Council's common position it is clear that the majority of Parliament's proposals are accepted by Council, while this was not the case in the Commission's revised proposal.

10. The point which is not included in the common position concerns the proposal to include the extension of the scrapping scheme as accompanying measure of the "old for new" rule. The Council is taking the view that the aim of the Regulation is to maintain what has been achieved by the scrapping measures since 1989 rather than instituting new structural improvement measures, with new capacity brought into service being offset by old capacity scrapped.

11. While this reasoning does not correspond to the real intent of Parliament's amendment, which was precisely to maintain what has been achieved by the previous scheme by enabling the fleet to respond to new technological and trade challenges, this aspect cannot be considered as an essential part of the Regulation.

12. The Parliament stressed, at its first reading, the importance of phasing out Community intervention in this sector in order to achieve a policy of free capacity in a fully liberalised market.

CONCLUSIONS

13. As Parliament's main amendments are included in the common position, it can be rightfully pointed out that Parliament's part in the legislative procedure has been again successfully fulfilled. In this case, this success is even more pronounced since Parliament will complete two readings in four months, given the Commission's negligence to submit the proposal in due time even when it was well known that the existing Regulation lapsed on April 28, 1999.

14. For this reason, your rapporteur proposed to accept the Council's common position as it stands; further delay could jeopardise its coming into force on time risking thus serious disturbances in the market and even the reversal of the favourable conditions achieved since the implementation of these structural measures to inland waterways transportation.

15. It should be noted, nevertheless, that Parliament expresses its strong disapproval for such unjustified emergency procedures which should be acceptable solely in cases of unforseen circumstances. The use of such procedures could otherwise seriously compromise the institutional balance in the European Union or entail damages for economic sectors concerned.

(1) OJ C 246,
(2) OJ L 116, 28.4.1989, p. 25

Last updated: 30 March 1999Legal notice