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Brussels, 4 December 2013
Transport and Telecoms Council – 5 December 2013
Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down measures to complete the European Single market for electronic communications and to achieve a Connected Continent (First reading)
Mrs Kroes will outline the Commission's proposal to create a connected continent which was presented in September 2013, which is our top priority for 2014. (IP/13/828 MEMO/13/779) This the Commission's most ambition plan in 26 years of telecoms reform which aims to overcome fragmentation in the European Telecoms Single market, reduce consumer charges, simplify red tape faced by companies, and bring a range of new rights for both users and service providers, so that Europe can once again be a global digital leader.
Vice-President Kroes will note that the October European Council welcomed this proposal and called for its intensive examination. She will remind ministers that the proposal is not an à la carte menu, and that although each Member State and stakeholder may have a favourite policy issue or concern, the Telecoms Single market must be addressed as a whole.
The October European Council conclusions also present an opportunity for Europe, to take the lead in a data driven economy. Mrs Kroes will underline that seizing this opportunity requires Europe to be strategic and concrete about completing the digital single market. There is major potential in big data and cloud for productivity gains and new and better services for companies and citizens.
She will stress the need to work quickly for the good of Europe's economy. She will note that Parliament has been working hard on this subject and though she may not like all parts of their amendments that she considers that the Parliament's proposals move the discussion forward, She will urge the Council not to wait before acting on the bottlenecks. In view of the urgency, she will call for further detailed examination to be carried out without delay so that Council is in a position to negotiate with Parliament and reach agreement before the end of its mandate.
Proposed Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning measures to ensure a high common level of network and information security across the Union (NIS) (First Reading)
The Commission presented a Cybersecurity strategy for the EU in February 2013, to protect open internet and online freedom and opportunity. This included a draft Directive for network and information security (NIS) which would require all Member States, key internet enablers and critical infrastructure operators such as e-commerce platforms and social networks and operators in energy, transport, banking and healthcare services to ensure a secure and trustworthy digital environment throughout the EU (see IP/13/94 and MEMO/13/71)
Vice-President Kroes will welcome steps towards the adoption of this dossier, but will underline the necessity for Council and Parliament to make progress in upcoming negotiations. She will remind ministers that Europe's economic recovery depends on the resilience of the ICT systems and networks underpinning our modern societies. Recent revelations on NSA have also confirmed the importance of enhancing the security of the European value chain and fostering trust.
She will reassure ministers that the proposed obligations on notification by market operators leave necessary room for flexibility and will be proportionate. While the Commission will facilitate discussion on the methods cooperation against cross-border threats VP Kroes will urge ministers to support the mechanism as such.
Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on measures to reduce the costs of deploying high-speed electronic communication networks (First Reading)
The Commission presented a draft Regulation in March 2013 in response to a call from the March 2012 European Council to cut the costs of broadband rollout, as part of the efforts to complete the Digital Single Market. The proposal aims to increase access to high speed internet, in particular in rural areas, and cut red tape for businesses and citizens. Taken together, the measures save up to €60 billion, up to 30% of the total investment costs needed to achieve the goals of the Digital Agenda Europe (DAE). (See IP/13/281 and MEMO/13/287)
VP Kroes will stress the advantages of the Commission's choice of legal instrument. A Regulation – limited in scope - will bring about a guarantee of comprehensive, directly applicable solutions, including all phases of rolling out network. It will ensure rapid availability of cost reduction tools, keeping with the momentum of the DAE targets. Moreover, the Commission's proposed approach leaves significant flexibility to Member States
Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on guidelines for Trans-European Telecommunications Networks and repealing Decision No 1336/97/EC
Mrs Kroes will congratulate the Lithuanian Presidency on the agreement found on the Connecting European Facility guidelines and note that a good and implementable compromise has been found on broadband speeds. On digital service infrastructures, she will stress that the prominence given to Europeana and Safer Internet in the final wording of the guidelines does not guarantee ring-fenced funding for these services in the Commission's view. The European Parliament and Council also agreed to establish a telecoms expert group made up of Member States' delegates and Mrs Kroes will note that the group should respect the Commission's institutional prerogatives in implementing EU programmes.
Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on electronic identification and trust services for transactions in the internal market (eIDAS) (First Reading)
The Commission outlined proposals to enable cross-border and secure electronic transactions in Europe in June 2012. The proposed Regulation will ensure people and businesses can use their own national electronic identification schemes (e-IDs) to access public services in other EU countries where e-IDs are available. (see IP/12/558 and MEMO/12/403)
Vice-President Kroes will welcome that the European Parliament and Council have initiated the trilogue process and aim to adopt the proposal by end of the current European parliamentary cycle. She will welcome the substantial progress made so far on the first part of the proposal and urgency of progressing quickly on the limited number of issues remaining.
The EU Council of transport ministers will meet in Brussels in the afternoon of Thursday 5 December under the Lithuanian Presidency. Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for mobility and transport will represent the European Commission. Ministers will discuss air passenger rights, clean power for transport and passenger ship safety, among other items. VP Tajani, responsible for industry and entrepreneurship, will present a point on European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS).
The press conference will be held together with the Lithuanian Presidency after the Council meeting in the press room of the Council.
Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) and Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T) regulations
Vice-President Kallas will welcome the expected adoption by the Council of the agreements found with the European Parliament on the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) and Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T). The new EU infrastructure policy will transform the existing patchwork of European roads, railways, airports and canals into a unified trans-European transport network (TEN-T) across 28 Member States. Taken as a whole, the new transport network will deliver: safer and less congested travel, and smoother quicker journeys. The core network will connect: 94 main European ports with rail and road links; 38 key airports with rail connections into major cities; 15,000 km of railway line upgraded to high speed; 35 cross-border projects to reduce bottlenecks.
To match this level of ambition EU financing for transport infrastructure will triple for the period 2014–2020 to €26.3 billion allocated to transport under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) of the MFF (multi-annual financial framework).
This will pave the way for entry into force in early 2014.
Air passenger rights
The Commission proposed a revision of air passenger rights on 13 March 2013. The revision mainly aims at confirming and clarifying rights and ensuring a better application of the regulation. The proposal mainly fine-tunes the existing rights to ensure a more proportionate balance between the interests of passengers and those of the industry.
The Council is expected to endorse a progress report, as agreement has not yet been reached on the text within its preparatory bodies.
Deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure (clean power package)
The clean power for transport package adopted by the Commission on 24 January 2013 consists of a policy document for a European alternative fuels strategy, a proposal for a directive on the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure and a staff working document on a liquefied natural gas (LNG) action plan for shipping. The proposed directive, on which the ministers are expected to agree on a general approach before starting negotiations with the European Parliament, contains targets in time (2020) and numbers for recharging/refuelling points (electric vehicles, LNG for road transport, CNG, hydrogen), standards, notably for the plug for electric vehicles and provisions on consumer information.
IP/13/1168 - Alternative fuels for transport: Parliament committee vote supports roll-out of refuelling infrastructure
The Council is expected to agree a draft text in the form of a general approach, with reduced ambitions compared to the Commission proposal, extending the deadline to 2030 and reducing the obligations for LNG. Nevertheless, this agreement could pave the way for an agreement between EP and Council before the European Parliament elections on 24-25 May 2014.
Brazil – comprehensive agreement on air transport services
Following the additional requests made by Brazil, the Council is expected to approve a slightly modified negotiating directive from the Council authorising the Commission to reopen negotiations with Brazil on the air transport agreement that was initialled on 17 March 2011. The aim is to conclude negotiations, enabling better air transport connections between EU and Brazil.
AOB: Passenger ship safety
The Commission considers that there is a compelling need to make a proposal to increase the safety level after accidents provided by the 2009 IMO damage stability regulations at the IMO as a ship is its own best lifeboat. The 93rd session of the next IMO Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) meeting, to be held in May 2014, will be an important milestone.
The Commission would like to obtain input in view of a joint European submission to IMO.
IP/12/97 - Safety of passenger ships: EU Transport Commissioner receives commitment from cruise industry to fully engage in review of passenger ship safety rules at EU and IMO
Vice President Tajani's item:
During the Council, Vice-President Tajani will inform Ministers of the progress made in the European GNSS programmes - Galileo and EGNOS (the European Geostationary Overlay Service) - and on the challenges ahead. In particular he will discuss the most recent developments in the Galileo programme's full operational capability phase, including the production of satellites, the results of recent tests, the preparations for service provision and the relations with international partners (including the recent declaration on the inclusion of the Ukraine territory in EGNOS coverage). The EU–Ukraine Cooperation Agreement in the field of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), concluded in November 2013, will be a win-win arrangement for both sides. It will increase the robustness of the EGNOS performances in the Eastern part of the EU and will allow the provision of the services over Ukraine. The utilisation of EGNOS services in Ukraine is also contributing to the creation of a Single European Transport Area covering 1 billion people in the EU and the neighbouring countries.
AOB: Blue Belt
The Commission adopted on 8th July 2013 a Communication creating a policy framework for the future “Blue Belt” area where ships will be able to operate freely with a minimum of administrative formalities to fulfil. Ministers will be updated on the implementation of this objective.
AOB: Impact of state aid rules on large-scale infrastructure projects
Denmark has requested to discuss the possibility that the public funding of the Øresund and Fehmarn Belt may fall under State aid rules. The Commission will underline the strategic importance of cross border TEN-T projects and their European value.