Minister for Transport Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar writes about progress on transport files during the Irish Presidency, thanks officials for latest successes
I am delighted to report success on a number of important EU transport initiatives this week following intensive negotiations with Member States, the Commission and European Parliament over the last five months. This success is down to the hard work and diligence of the staff, officials and interns who have worked tirelessly during the Presidency.
This week’s successes include:
- Trans European Transport Guidelines
- EU legislation to implement the Maritime Labour Convention
- Recreational Craft Directive
- Tachograph Regulation
From the outset, the overriding priority of my department for the EU Presidency was to promote a safer, more efficient and sustainable transport network for Europe. Most of the legislative files we have prioritised in the transport sector will contribute to making Europe's transport infrastructure and operations more competitive, more efficient and safer for its citizens. The most important of these is the Trans-European Transport Network Guidelines (TENT) and the associated financial programme, the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).
The rationale for both schemes is to target resources where they will add greatest value from a European perspective. It’s also about attracting the private sector to play a greater part in delivering key infrastructure investment. I am happy to report a successful conclusion to our negotiations with the European Parliament on the TENT Regulation today. This is a key milestone in setting the framework for the development of Europe's transport network over the next 25 years.
I am also confident that we can achieve significant progress on the CEF regulation, which will provide financial support over the next financial period before the end of our Presidency.
Given Ireland’s strong maritime tradition, we also prioritised maritime initiatives including the implementation of the International Maritime Labour Convention. The safety and welfare of those working in the maritime sector is vital, and the agreement we have now brokered on EU Directives relating to Port State control (agreed earlier in April) and Flag State control (agreed with EP just yesterday) will guarantee a minimum level of standards for seafarers in line with this Convention.
We also finalised an agreement between Member States and the European Parliament on an EU directive on technical standards for Recreational Water-based Craft which should see improved emissions and increased competitiveness of European manufacturers.
We expect significant progress on the revised Marine Equipment Directive, which streamlines and updates procedures for approving equipment before it can be installed on EU ships. This is very important for the manufacturing industry and the internal market as well as for safety of EU ships.
Ireland has a very strong track record on road safety. We held a major EU conference in Ireland in March on this topic and I am pleased to report significant progress on two legislative files which will improve safety on our roads. These are the Tachograph Regulation, on which we secured agreement with the European Parliament and Member States last week, and the Road Worthiness Package, which I will bring to Transport Council next month to secure the agreement of transport Ministers.
Agreement with the European Parliament on the Tachograph regulation represents a good result for the European road haulage sector in terms of addressing tachograph fraud, improving driver working conditions and promoting greater levels of safety and competition in the road transport sector.
On 10 June, I will chair the Transport Council of Ministers for the second time during our Presidency. A key priority will be to secure an agreement among the Council of Ministers to one element of the Commission’s latest package of proposals to enhance the competitiveness and secure the long-term future of European Railways: the so-called 4th Rail Package.
Agreement on the technical aspects of this package, namely the Interoperability Directive, will provide a strong basis to build consensus on the remaining elements of this package and advancing towards a fully-integrated rail system in Europe.
On the aviation front, I will launch negotiations on the Commission’s new Air Passenger Rights directive which deals with passenger rights, particularly in cases of flight cancellations, delays and denied boarding.
In line with our focus on safety in the transport sector, I also hope to secure agreement of my colleagues on the Occurrence Reporting Regulation which aims to ensure that all occurrences which endanger or could endanger aviation safety are reported, properly collected and effectively analysed to provide a complete and clear picture of aviation safety risks in the EU and its Member States. It also aims at ensuring that all safety information, stored in the European Common Repository, is accessed adequately by appropriate authorities and used strictly for safety enhancement purposes.