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European Commission - Press release

Rail transport: Commission launches infringement proceedings against France and the UK over Channel tunnel

Brussels, 29 September 2011 - The European Commission has launched infringement proceedings against France and the United Kingdom over their failure to implement legislation to open the market for rail services in the Channel Fixed Link. Compliance with EU legislation will contribute to more competition, which will lead to better services and prices for passengers and freight traffic.

The EU rules

The first railway package seeks to create the basis for market opening and competition in rail services. It aims in particular to ensure the independence of the infrastructure manager, non-discriminatory track access charging and the setting up of an independent regulator to remedy competition problems in the rail sector. Member States were required to implement these directives by 15 March 2003. Failure to remedy the current situation in the UK and France within 2 months will result in further measures against these two countries.

The reason for taking this action

The infringements raised with France and the United Kingdom concern the lack of independence of the rail infrastructure manager of the Channel Fixed Link and the insufficient implementation of provisions in the first railway package concerning rail access charging, the independent regulatory body and capacity allocation as regards the Channel Fixed Link.

Letters of formal notice raising similar infringements were sent in 2008 to 24 Member States, including France and the United Kingdom for failure to properly implement the first railway package, however those letters did not address the implementation of the legislation in relation to the Channel Fixed Link. These two letters complete the package.

The practical effect of non-transposition

If the first railway package is not fully implemented, it could prevent the creation of an internal market for rail services in Europe. Having an internal market is important because competition between different rail operators would encourage them to become more efficient and would result in more choice, better services and lower prices for passengers and for freight traffic.

Next steps

Member States have two months to respond to the letters of formal notice. If they fail to react satisfactorily, then the next step in the infringement procedure would be a reasoned opinion from the Commission requesting the Member States in question to fully implement the first railway package.


Contacts :

Helen Kearns (+32 2 298 76 38)

Dale Kidd (+32 2 295 74 61)

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