Brussels, 10 June 2013
Transport: Council reaches agreement on rail interoperability
The European Commission welcomes the progress achieved in the Transport Council today to enhance the quality and efficiency of Europe-wide rail services by removing remaining technical obstacles. Following the proposal of the Commission for the recast of the interoperability directive, the Transport Council adopted a "general approach" on new rules which will introduce a single European authorisation for placing railway vehicles on the EU market, and will reinforce the central role of the European Railway Agency.
Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for mobility and transport, said: "I am pleased to see Member States supporting this essential technical part of the Fourth Railway Package. This creates momentum for the completion of the Single European Rail Area and will contribute to the growth and competitiveness of the European railway market. This is a substantial achievement for the Irish Presidency but much work lies still ahead to make rail transport truly competitive compared to other modes".
The Commission's proposal for the recast of the interoperability directive is part of the Fourth Railway Package adopted by the Commission on 30 January 2013. The directive on rail interoperability is focused on the removal of remaining administrative and technical barriers, in particular by establishing a common approach to safety and interoperability rules. This will contribute to increased economies of scale for railway undertakings active across the EU, decrease administrative costs, accelerate administrative procedures and avoid discrimination. The Commission proposal on the recast directive on rail interoperability received a broad support from industry and stakeholders' organisations.
The Council introduced some changes in the proposal, such us the concept of 'area of use' of a vehicle, a longer transitional period and the possibility for national safety authorities to issue authorisations for vehicles operating in one Member State only. Vice-President Kallas emphasized the importance of a shorter transitional period, as the provisions are urgently needed to boost competitiveness and promote modal shift towards rail transport. He also underlined that deviations from the concept of a single EU-wide vehicle authorisation must be limited in time.
The European Parliament has started its examination of the Commission's proposal and aims at voting in committee in November 2013. The Commission will continue to work together with the Council and Parliament to reach an ambitious agreement on this essential part of the Fourth Railway Package.
Press release of 30 January 2013 – European Railways at a junction: the Commission adopts proposals for a Fourth Railway Package
Press memo – European rail: Challenges ahead
Video – The future of rail in Europe