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European Commission


Brussels, 11 April 2014

European Parliament plenary set to vote on important transport files

The European Parliament will gather in plenary session from 14 to 17 April in Strasbourg to vote on a number of important legislative proposals in the area of transport, among other issues. In particular, the following items are scheduled for a vote: alternative fuels infrastructure, airport noise, marine equipment, inland waterways, eCall, weight and dimensions of road vehicles, European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) funding.

Furthermore, the Parliament will give its opinion on the prolongation of the SESAR Joint Undertaking and the creation of the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking.

All votes will take place on Tuesday 15 April — except airport noise, which is scheduled for Wednesday 16 April.

A milestone on alternative fuels infrastructure

The European Parliament is expected to adopt far-reaching measures on the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure. The measures will ensure the build-up of alternative refuelling points across Europe with common standards for their design and use, including a single plug for recharging electric vehicles. Alternative fuels are being held back by three main barriers: the high cost of vehicles, a low level of consumer acceptance, and the lack of recharging and refuelling stations. The directive provides the political signal and the regulatory framework for the deployment of a minimum infrastructure for alternative fuels such as electricity, hydrogen and natural gas, as well as common EU-wide standards for equipment and user information.

After a positive vote in the Parliament the directive is expected to be formally adopted by Council later this year (in a first reading agreement).

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Airport noise

Parliament is voting on new rules concerning airport noise. Air traffic noise around airports affects some 2.5 million citizens in Europe, leading to intense political pressure at the local level. At the same time, aviation activities boost local economic growth and employment. The challenge is to pursue regional and local policies that maximise the positive economic impact of airports, whilst mitigating the environmental impact of noise.

The new rules will make it easier to find solutions. They will leave the decision-making power about possible noise-related operating restrictions to national and local authorities, which are better placed to propose tailor-made solutions. However, such proposals will be based on a harmonised EU system that will guarantee the protection of citizens and businesses rights, and that will be based on experience gained in the past.

The Council agreed on the text of the new law on 24 March 2014. The Parliament's vote will conclude the ordinary legislative process.

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Marine equipment

Parliament will vote on proposed new rules for marine equipment. The proposed directive will provide an overall modernisation of the rules governing marine equipment in the EU, which will result in safer journeys for ships and their crew, less red tape for Member States, and more competitiveness for Europe's maritime industry.    

The European Commission expects the Parliament to adopt the proposal, in line with the trilogue agreement reached with the European Council in February 2014.

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Inland waterway transport

On 15 April Parliament will vote on two legislative proposals concerning the NAIADES II programme — "Towards quality inland waterway transport":  

  • Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and the Council amending Council Regulation (EC) No 718/1999 on a Community-fleet capacity policy to promote inland waterway transport (COM(2013)621)

  • Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down technical requirements for inland waterway vessels and repealing Directive 2006/87/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council (COM(2013)622)

The NAIADES II programme aims at improving the conditions for inland navigation transport by making better use of Europe's rivers and canals in the transport network. In the amending regulation, the Commission proposes to broaden the scope of the measures eligible under the so called 'Inland Waterway Transport Reserve Fund'. In this way the reserve fund can also be used for innovations for vessels and progress in the field of environment. The proposed directive aims at facilitating and improving the adoption procedures for updates on the technical standards for inland waterway vessels.

The reserve fund proposal has been agreed between EP and Council in first reading. After the vote in Parliament, the Council of Ministers is still expected to take its position on the proposed directive.

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112 eCall

Parliament is also expected to vote on establishing emergency call response centres for the handling of 112 eCalls. An agreement on this was reached in trilogue negotiations in March. The eCall system automatically dials 112 — Europe's single emergency number — in the event of a serious accident. It is estimated that eCall can speed up emergency response times by 40% in urban areas and 50% in the countryside and can reduce the number of fatalities by at least 4% and the number of severe injuries by 6%.

Following the vote of the Parliament, the agreement is expected to be formally approved by the Council in the coming weeks.

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Greener and safer lorries

The European Commission proposed in April 2013 new rules to revise the current legislation on weights and dimensions of certain road vehicles, to allow manufacturers to develop more aerodynamic lorries which will reduce fuel consumption by 7-10%, cut emissions of greenhouse gases, and also enhance the safety of vulnerable road users.

The Commission hopes that the Parliament will follow the opinion of the TRAN Committee and looks forward to the final discussions between the co-legislators to make trucks greener and safer as soon as possible, for the benefit of European society: less pollution, lower fuel consumption, fewer victims of accidents with trucks and new opportunities for European industry to export its know-how in the form of the 'truck of the future.'

The Greek Presidency is aiming at a Council position on this text in June 2014.

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EMSA funding: vote on financial package

Parliament is expected to adopt on 15 April 2014 a financial package of €160.5 million for a period of over seven years (2014–20) for the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) to allow continued action to combat marine pollution. This vote follows an informal agreement reached with the Council in March and shows the support and confidence in the European system to combat pollution at sea established in EMSA. This system which has proven its added value and cost-efficiency relies on satellite services to detect pollution and a network of specialised anti-pollution vessels available to Member States to recover pollutants. For the first time, the funds will cover spills not only from ships but also from oil and gas installations, given the extended mandate of the agency following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. EMSA's assistance will also be available to third countries sharing a regional sea basin with the EU. In 2017, the Commission will present a mid-term evaluation of the agency’s ability to fulfil its extended mandate and it will propose, if necessary, an adjustment to a maximum of 8% of the multiannual financial envelope.

Following the vote in the European Parliament, the Council is expected to endorse the regulation as adopted by Parliament, in accordance with the agreement reached between the two institutions in March 2014.

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