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Brussels, 1 December 2010

Transport Council: Ministers consider cross-border traffic offences, air cargo security and progress towards a European rail traffic management system

Transport Council

The Transport Council will start at 10:00 on Thursday 2 December with ministers due to consider key proposals, including an agreement on cross-border enforcement for traffic offences committed abroad and a new European action plan for air cargo. The Council will be attended by European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, and (on space matters) Vice-President Antonio Tajani, responsible for industry and entrepreneurship. A press conference is expected to take place after the meeting.

Road safety: EU crackdown on drivers committing traffic offences abroad

Drivers look set to be punished for traffic offences they commit abroad, including the four "big killers" causing 75% of road fatilities – speeding, running red lights, failure to use seatbelts and drink driving – under proposals due to be agreed by EU transport ministers meeting in Brussels on Thursday this week (December 2).

The Council is due to conclude a political agreement on a proposal to allow EU drivers to be identified and thus prosecuted for offences committed in a Member State other than then one where their car is registered. In practical terms, this would allow for the exchange of data between the country in which the offence was committed and the country in which the car was registered. European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, will urge ministers to reach an agreement on the new rules, saying: "A foreign driver is three times more likely to commit an offence than a resident driver. Many people seem to think that when they go abroad the rules no longer apply to them. My message is that they do apply and now we are going to apply them." EU figures suggest that foreign drivers account for 5% of traffic but around 15 % of speeding offences. Most go unpunished, with countries unable to pursue drivers once they return home. See MEMO/10/634 for more detail.

A European action plan to strengthen air cargo security

Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, and Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, responsible for home affairs, will present to the Transport and Home and Justice Councils, for endorsement, a report with recommendations to strengthen air cargo security. The report is a response to the recent discovery of explosive devices concealed in air cargo originating from Yemen. It is the result of a recently convened high-level group on aviation security and to address new threats. EU legislation already sets out stringent standards for air cargo security, but the threat is evolving.

It is therefore vital that a mechanism to share information about these threats and possible emergency measures can be set up as quickly as possible, and to allow action both within the EU and in cooperation with international partners.

See SPEECH/10/696 and MEMO/10/625.

Towards full integration of shipping into the transport and logistics chain

Short sea shipping offers an environmentally friendly way of transporting freight within the European Union, but complex procedures hamper its development compared to other transport modes. This could be overcome by creating a "blue belt" for maritime transport in which ships could operate freely within the internal market with a minimum of administrative burden and a maximum of safety, security and environmental protection by using the latest technology to monitor maritime transport. Vice-President Siim Kallas will inform about the "blue belt" pilot project and the Council will adopt conclusions to make waterborne transport within Europe more attractive.

Progress of the implementation of the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS)

In the margins of the Council, Vice-President Siim Kallas will invite transport ministers of the Rotterdam–Genoa corridor to report on the progress of the implementation of the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS). Today, a locomotive needs six different safety systems to run from Rotterdam to Genoa. By 2015 – the deadline set by the Commission decision laying down the European deployment plan of ERTMS – only one system, the European one, will suffice. This will reduce costs for railway undertakings and time lost at the borders, thus making rail transport more efficient and competitive vis-à-vis other modes. The success of this project requires coordinated deployment of ERTMS all along the various national sections of the corridor.

Progress report on public regulated service (PRS) access policy proposal for Galileo

Vice-President Tajani, responsible for industry and entrepreneurship, will brief the ministers on the progress of the European Commission proposal of 8 October 2010 on the public regulated service (PRS) access rules. The PRS will be offered by the global navigation satellite system established under the Galileo programme. Its core objectives will be better management of critical transport and emergency services, better law enforcement (police), improved internal security (border control) and safer peace missions. Using highly encrypted signals, PRS will offer protection against threats to infrastructures dependent on satellite navigation technology so that PRS users can receive vital, often life-saving, information even when other infrastructure becomes unavailable. PRS is one of the important features of Galileo that adds value compared to other satellite navigation systems. The access to PRS will be limited to authorised governmental bodies.

For more information, see IP/10/1301 and also MEMO/10/634.

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