Brussels, 28 March 2014
Railway safety: Commission refers Austria to the Court of Justice
The European Commission has decided to refer Austria to the European Court of Justice for failing to bring national rules into line with a European directive on rail safety. Directive 2004/49/EC aims to improve safety for the European Union's railways and to improve access to the market for rail transport services. The directive requires Member States to establish a safety authority, to establish accident and incident investigation bodies, and to define common principles for the management, regulation and supervision of railway safety. In failing to transpose and implement the directive, Austria is denying the safety authority the right to revise safety certificates or authorisations following changes to the regulatory framework. Austria is also failing to ensure proper investigation of accidents and incidents – specifically those which under slightly different conditions might have led to serious accidents – by the independent investigation body. This potentially puts rail passengers at risk and hinders the creation of fair competition in the market.
Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, said: "One of the EU's key roles is to ensure equal safety standards for the well-being of rail passengers in all Member States. These standards also ensure fair competition within the internal market among all railway undertakings."
The EU legislation on railway safety aims at establishing requirements for the rail system – including safe management of infrastructure and traffic operations – the respective roles and responsibilities of railway undertakings and infrastructure managers, and the investigation of accidents.
The deadline for implementing the directive was 30 April 2006. The Commission had already requested Austria to take action to ensure compliance in June 2013. Today's action is in line with the Commission's objective to ensure Member States' full compliance with rail safety rules.
For more information
On the March infringement package decisions, see MEMO/14/241
On the general infringement procedure, see MEMO/12/12
More information on infringement procedures
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