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2499th Council meeting - TRANSPORT, TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND ENERGY - Brussels, 27-28 March 2003

European Council - PRES/03/90   27/03/2003

Other available languages: FR DE DA ES NL IT SV PT FI EL

C/03/90

Brussels, 27-28 March 2003 7685/03 (Presse 90)

2499th Council meeting - TRANSPORT, TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND ENERGY - Brussels, 27-28 March 2003

Presidents : Mr Georgios ANOMERITIS, Minister for Mercantile Marine Mr Christos VERELIS, Minister for Transport and Communication Mr Manolis STRATAKIS, State Secretary for Transport and Communication of the Hellenic Republic

CONTENTS (1)

PARTICIPANTS 5

ITEMS DEBATED

TELECOMMUNICATIONS

European Network and Information Security Agency 7

Re-use and commercial exploitation of public sector documents 7

MODINIS 8

Electronic communications in Europe 8

e-Europe 2002 Final Report 8

World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) 9

TRANSPORT

MARITIME TRANSPORT

Maritime security 9

Accelerated phasing in of double hull or equivalent design requirements for single hull oil tankers 10

Ship-source pollution 11

Minimum level of training of seafarers 12

INTERMODAL QUESTIONS

GALILEO 12

     State of play on existing negotiations and contacts with third countries 12

     Agreement with China on the development of GNSS 12

     Communication on the integration of EGNOS 12

AVIATION

Effects of the war in Iraq on the aviation sector 13

External relations in the aviation sector 14

UNFAIR PRICING PRACTICES 15

Safety of third countries aircraft using community airports 15

INLAND transport

Ecopoint system 15

Second railway package 16

Tunnel Safety 18

other business

     Civil liability regime and compensation arrangements in the event of oil pollution 18

     Protection of particularly sensitive areas 18

     Liberalisation of transport services in relation with the GATS negotiations 19

     50th anniversary of the ECMT (European Conference of Ministers of Transport 19

ITEMS APPROVED WITHOUT DEBATE

EXTERNAL RELATIONS

  • Restrictive measures against AlQuaida and the Taliban Exceptions I

  • Relations with Poland - new mutual agricultural concessions I

  • Relations with Romania - regional aid map I

TRADE POLICY

  • Antidumping Unalloyed magnesium from China II

DEVELOPMENT COOPERATION

  • European Development Fund Financial Regulation* II

  • Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation staff regulations * II

HEALTH

  • Advertising and sponsorship of tobacco products * III

APPOINTMENTS

  • Committee of the Regions III

DECISIONS ADOPTED BY WRITTEN PROCEDURE

INTERNAL MARKET

  • Public procurement procedures * IV

ECOFIN

  • Directive on prospectuses * IV

PARTICIPANTS

The Governments of the Member States and the European Commission were represented as follows:

Belgium :

Mr Rik DAEMSMinister for Telecommunications and Public Undertakings, with responsibility for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses, the Liberal Professions and the Self-Employed
Ms Isabelle DURANTDeputy Prime Minister and Minister for Mobility and Transport
Denmark :
Mr Flemming HANSENMinister for Transport and Minister for Nordic Cooperation
Mr Claus GRUBEDeputy Permanent Representative
Germany :
Mr Manfred STOLPEFederal Minister for Transport, Building and Housing
Mr Ralf NAGELState Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Housing
Mr Peter WITTDeputy Permanent Representative
Greece :
Mr Georgios ANOMERITISMinister for Mercantile Marine
Mr Christos VERELISMinister for Transport and Communications
Mr Manolis STRATAKISState Secretary for Transport and Communications
Spain :
Mr Francisco ALVAREZ-CASCOS FERNANDEZMinister for Internal Development
Mr Carlos LOPEZ BLANCOState Secretary for Telecommunications and the Information Society
France :
Mr Gilles de ROBIENMinister for Infrastructure, Transport, Housing, Tourism and the Sea
Mr Dominique BUSSEREAUState Secretary to the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Housing, Tourism and the Sea, with responsibility for Transport and the Sea
Mr Christian MASSETDeputy Permanent Representative
Ireland :
Mr Dermont AHERNMinister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources
Mr Séamus BRENNANMinister for Transport
Italy :
Mr Pietro LUNARDIMinister for Infrastructure and Transport
Mr Maurizio GASPARRIMinister for Communications
Mr Lucio STANCAMinister without Portfolio, Minister for Innovation and Technology
Luxembourg :
Mr François BILTGENMinister for Labour and Employment, Minister for Relations with Parliament, Minister for Religious Affairs, Minister with responsibility for Communications
Mr Henri GRETHENMinister for Economic Affairs, Minister for Transport
Mr Christian BRAUNDeputy Permanent Representative
Netherlands :
Mr Roelf de BOERMinister for Transport, Communications and Public Works
Mr Henne J.J. SCHUWERDeputy Permanent Representative

Austria :

Mr Herbert GORBACHFederal Minister for Transport, Innovation and Technology
Portugal :
Mr Luis VALENTE de OLIVEIRAMinister for Public Works, Transport and Housing
Ms Dulce FRANCOState Secretary attached to the Minister for Economic Affairs
Finland :
Mr Kimmo SASIMinister for Transport and Communications
Sweden :
Ms Ulrica MESSINGMinister at the Ministry of Industry, Employment and Communications, with responsibility for Infrastructure
United Kingdom :
Mr John SPELLARMinister of State for Transport
Mr Stephen TIMMSMinister of State for E-Commerce and Competitiveness

* * *

Commission :

Ms Loyola DE PALACIOVice-President
Mr Erkki LIIKANENMember

ITEMS DEBATED

TELECOMMUNICATIONS

European Network and Information Security Agency

Public deliberation

The Council has taken note of the presentation by Commissioner Liikanen of the proposal for a Regulation establishing the European Network and Information Security Agency.

It is recalled that in response to the increasing information security problem, and against the background that the current institutional arrangements do not allow network and information security to be addressed at European level, the Commission proposed to establish a European regulatory agency. According to the proposal, the assistance it provides should help ensure interoperability of information security functions in networks and information systems, thereby contributing to the functioning of the Internal Market.

The agency would provide assistance to the Commission and to national regulatory authorities. As there is also need for international co-operation, the agency would provide support for the Community contacts with relevant parties in third countries.

Re-use and commercial exploitation of public sector documents

Public deliberation

The Council agreed the text on the proposal for a Directive on the re-use and commercial exploitation of public sector documents. After final verification, this text will be adopted as the Council's common position on the Directive at one of its forthcoming sessions.

It is recalled that in making the proposal the Commission has drawn attention to the economic potential of public sector information given the possibilities provided by information technology to combine data taken from different sources to create added value products and services. The Commission's analysis is that legal uncertainty and divergent regulation between Member States act as barriers to the development of cross-border information products and thereby contribute to a fragmented and under-developed European market for digital content.

The proposed Directive contains a minimum set of common rules intended to ensure that, in relation to the re-use of public sector information, the same basic conditions apply to all players in the European information market, that more transparency is achieved on the conditions of re-use and that unjustified market distortions are removed. The degree of harmonisation proposed is relatively modest, leaving intact national rules governing access to public information as well as the level of data protection in place in Member States.

MODINIS

Public deliberation

The Council reached political agreement on the text of the proposal for a Decision adopting a multi-annual programme (2003-2005) for the monitoring of eEurope, dissemination of good practices and the improvement of network and information security. After final verification, the text will be adopted as the Council's common position on this Decision at one of the forthcoming Council sessions.

It is recalled that the MODINIS programme, adopted by the Commission on 26 July 2002, provides for financial support to accompany the Member States' actions transforming the EU into a knowledge-based economy. MODINIS would follow on from the PROMISE programme, which expired at the end of last year. The eEurope action plan is aimed at contributing to the Lisbon European Council objective(March 2000) of making the EU the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy by 2010, in particular with regard to developing the on-line economy and providing citizens with the access and skills needed to live and work in the information society.

Electronic communications in Europe

The Council took note of the information given both by the President and Commissioner Liikanen on the situation of the electronic communications in Europe, and welcomed in particular the Commission's Communication "Electronic Communication; the Road to the Knowledge Economy".

Moreover, the Council recalled the Spring European Council's Conclusions concerning the Information Society, addressed to the Member States, the Council and the Commission.

During a broad exchange of views, Ministers intervened, in particular, on issues such as :

    - the state of implementation of the new common regulatory framework for electronic communications in the Member States;

    - comprehensive broadband strategies for the future in the Member States including possibilities of collaboration between, on the one hand, Member States and, on the other hand, public and private sector on European, national and regional level;

    - issues related to the deployment and use of 3G mobile communications, such as co-operation within the European Union in the development of applications and services

e-Europe 2002 Final Report

The Council was briefed by Commissioner Liikanen on the Communication on eEurope 2002 Final Report

It is recalled that the eEurope 2002 Action Plan was endorsed at the Feira European Council in June 2000 as part of the decade-long Lisbon strategy of economic, social and environmental renewal. The Action Plan set out 11 action areas in which there were a total of 64 targets to be achieved before the end of 2002.

According to the Commission Report, eEurope targets have been monitored regularly through the benchmarking exercise. Benchmarking forms part of the open method of co-ordination, promoted by the Lisbon European Council, whereby monitoring, exchange of best practices and peer review are applied to improve convergence of national performances towards the goals and targets for the Union set out in the Lisbon strategy.

The presented document highlights the achievements of eEurope and identifies remaining obstacles to the full development of the information society in Europe. In terms of realising the targets endorsed at the Feira European Council, eEurope has been a major success. Most of the 64 targets have been achieved.

The success is due to the contributions of many actors in the European Institutions, Member States, Industry and Social Partners. Its achievements are notable as they have been realised despite the difficulties of a sharp decline in the stock market, particularly in ICT stocks, high levels of debt, and subsequent reductions in investment. The goal of a competitive knowledge based economy is still some distance away, but eEurope has laid solid foundations.

World Summit on Information Society (WSIS)

The Council took note of information by the Presidency on the preparations of the WSIS and held a brief exchange of views highlighting the importance of this summit. The Presidency suggested to have a more detailed debate at the Council meeting in next June on the basis of a Communication, which the Commission engaged itself to present in May.

The WSIS is a formal UN Summit at level of Heads of State or Governments, which will be held in two sessions, namely in Geneva end 2003 and in Tunis in 2005. The summit results from an initiative by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), further endorsed by a decision of the UN General Assembly. The EU has its own seat in the intergovernmental process of the summit, alongside the 15 Member States. Close co-ordination mechanisms are put in place in Brussels and Geneva.

TRANSPORT

MARITIME TRANSPORT

Maritime security

Public deliberation

The Council took note of the presentation by Vice President De Palacio on the main features of a future communication and proposal for a Regulation concerning maritime security measures.

The Council instructed the Committee of Permanent Representatives, upon reception of the Commission proposal, to initiate work so as to enable the Council to take a political decision thereon at its June session.

It is recalled that in the aftermath of the criminal acts committed in New York and Washington on 11 September 2001, the authorities of the United States of America have referred the matter to international fora, in this case the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

Last December, the Diplomatic Conference on maritime security of the IMO decided on a set of measures enhancing maritime security on board ships and at ship/port interface areas. The most far-reaching of the measures adopted then is the new International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code).

It is now necessary to incorporate these measures into European legislation.

Accelerated phasing in of double hull or equivalent design requirements for single hull oil tankers

After an extensive debate on the draft Regulation aiming at an accelerated phasing in of double hull or equivalent design requirements for single hull oil tankers, the Council agreed a text, as its general approach, pending the European Parliament's opinion on the proposal in question. The Presidency will take contacts with the European Parliament with the aim of reaching an agreement in first reading in the co-decision procedure by the end of June 2003.

The text of the general approach includes, in particular,

  • the accelerated phasing-out calendar for both single hull ships calling at EU ports and flying an EU flag as follows:

1)  for category (1) oil tankers:

    2003 for ships delivered in 1980 or earlier,

      2004 for ships delivered in 1981,

    2005 for ships delivered in 1982 or later;

2)  for category (2) and for category (3) oil tankers:

    2003 for ships delivered in 1975 or earlier,

    2004 for ships delivered in 1976,

    2005 for ships delivered in 1977,

    2006 for ships delivered in 1978 and 1979,

    2007 for ships delivered in 1980 and 1981,

    2008 for ships delivered in 1982,

    2009 for ships delivered in 1983,

    2010 for ships delivered in 1984 or later.

  • a waiver concerning the ships of categories (2) and (3) complying with the Oil Pollution Act (OPA-90) requirements which could continue their operations until 2015 or the date of their 25th anniversary, provided they comply with the Condition Assessment Scheme (CAS) after the age of 15 years;

    • a ban on the transport of heavy grades of oil in single hull oil tankers of 600 dwt or more; a transitional period has been agreed for small ships between 600 and 5000 dwt until 2008;

    • the definition of heavy grades of oil, i.e. 1) crude oils: 900 kg/m3 or API 25,7 for density; 2) fuel oils: density of 900 kg/m3 or viscosity of 180 cSt; 3) bitumen and tar and their emulsions;

    • the extension of the CAS to all single hull vessels after the age of 15 years.

    With regard to ice strengthening requirements for ships in the Baltic Sea

    • the Council and the Commission recognised the need for proper protection of the marine environment, especially during winter season;

    • the Commission committed itself to submit a legislative proposal on this matter as soon as possible;

    • a two years transitional period for the ban of transport of heavy grades of oil in single hull tankers has been agreed to allow single hull vessels to operate when the ice conditions require the use of an ice strengthened vessel provided that the heavy grades of oil are only carried in the centre tank of the oil tanker.

    The Council adopted in parallel a common approach for the negotiations in the IMO on the same subject and agreed that a joint paper to the IMO should be submitted for its July MEPC meeting.

    It is recalled that in its response to the Prestige accident, the Council on 6 December 2002 adopted conclusions in which it invited the Commission to present a proposal concerning an accelerated phasing out of single hull tankers and agreed that the heavy grades of oil should only be transported in double hull tankers. The Council also invited Member States and the Commission to make every effort to ensure that a similar rule can be established on a world-wide level, through an amendment of the MARPOL Convention.

    In response to this, the Commission transmitted on 27 December 2002 a proposal on the accelerated phasing in of double hull oil tankers, as well as on the ban on the transport of heavy grades of oil in single hull oil tankers.

    Moreover, in the wake of the Prestige accident the European Council renewed its expression of solidarity with the countries, regions and people touched. Following the measures announced at the Council in December, the European Council called for the Council (Transport) to reach agreement on 27 March on the proposal by the Commission restricting the carriage of heavy fuel-oil in single-hulled tankers and accelerating the timetable for the withdrawal of such tankers as well as for coordinated efforts by all Member States and the Commission for the establishment of a similar scheme as soon as possible at a worldwide level through an amendment of the MARPOL Convention.

    Ship-source pollution

    The Council took note of the presentation by Vice-President de Palacio of the draft Directive on ship-source pollution and on the introduction of sanctions, including criminal sanctions, for pollution offences.

    The proposal has two main objectives:

    • to incorporate into Community legislation the international discharge rules on ship-source pollution and regulate the enforcement of these rules in detail;

    • to establish that violations of the discharge rules are criminal offences and provide guidelines on the penalties to be awarded.

    The Council welcomed the objectives of the proposal. It took note of comments expressed by some delegations, in particular on the issue of the appropriate legal basis for criminal sanctions. It submitted the proposal to the Permanent Representatives Committee for technical examination.

    Minimum level of training of seafarers

    The Council agreed on a general approach on the draft Directive on the minimum level of training of seafarers, the European Parliament's opinion in first reading still pending.

    The Council and the Commission are conscious of the extent and importance of the evaluation tasks involved in the field of recognition of third countries' certificates.

    The Council notes the opinion of the Commission that, at this stage, the resources allocated to the evaluation of third countries' maritime training and certification systems within the services of the Commission and the ones assigned to the EMSA will not be sufficient for carrying out the proposed increased tasks.

    The Council agreed that, if resources turn out to be insufficient when the Directive is due to be applied, Member States will play a larger role in collecting the relevant information during the initial phase of this application.

    It is recalled that the proposal aims at amending Directive 2001/25/EC, in particular concerning certain procedural problems related to the recognition of certificates of competency of seafarers from countries outside the EU. The proposal intends :

    • to simplify the recognition by introducing a centralised and harmonised procedure for a Community-wide recognition of third countries complying with the STCW (Standards of Training, Certification and Watch-keeping) Convention;

    • to bring the Directive in line with the provisions of the STCW and SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) Conventions as regards the language requirements for certificates of competency and endorsements of certificates and for bridge-to-shore communications.

    INTERMODAL QUESTIONS

    GALILEO

    • State of play on existing negotiations and contacts with third countries

    • Agreement with China on the development of GNSS

    The Council was informed by Vice-President De Palacio on the situation of the various contacts and negotiations with third countries concerning the GALILEO programme. The Council also adopted the negotiating directives that will enable the Commission to open negotiations with a view to establishing a co-operation agreement with the People's Republic of China on a civil Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS).

    • Communication on the integration of EGNOS

    The Council took note of the presentation by the Commission of its communication on the integration of the EGNOS Signal Augmentation System (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay System) in the GALILEO programme.

    The subject will be submitted for technical examination to the Permanent Representatives Committee with a view to adopting a set of Council conclusions on the matter in June.

    It is recalled that EGNOS is a joint programme by the European Commission, the ESA (European Space Agency) and Eurocontrol, which will be fully operational in April 2004 and is intended at reinforcing the GPS signal particularly for civil aviation navigation use. This system is conceived for purely civil use and offers a high-performance satellite radio navigation and positioning service, superior to that currently available in Europe.

    EGNOS is the first phase of the European Union's policy on a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS); the second phase, GNSS 2, is the GALILEO programme. By working on EGNOS, Europe's industry gained expertise in the technologies concerned and most of the participants of EGNOS are also actively involved in the development of GALILEO.

    The Commission therefore recommends in its communication

    • to continue the EGNOS programme as a precursor to GALILEO and an instrument to penetrate rapidly the market concerned;

    • to place EGNOS, including the supervision of its operation and the launch of a call for tenders in view of the future operation of the system, under the control of the GALILEO Joint Undertaking;

    • to include the management of EGNOS in the future concession agreement for GALILEO;

    • to reserve public funding to the basic EGNOS system;

    • to promote the extension of EGNOS to other parts of the world;

    • to decide on the future development of the EGNOS and GALILEO systems after GALILEO has become fully operational.

    AVIATION

    Effects of the war in Iraq on the aviation sector

    The Council took note of the information provided by Vice-President De Palacio in the light of discussions Ministers had over lunch on the effects of the war in Iraq on the aviation sector.

    The Commission explained that it envisages a series of measures designed to enable the airlines to deal with short-term difficulties, in particular the following:

      - monitoring of the situation in the insurance market and consideration of immediate action in case of possible insurance market failures or major premium increases similar to those that occurred in the aftermath of 11 September 2001;

      - favourable examination of certain non-discriminatory type of State Aid intended to offset the additional costs of security;

      - more flexible rules concerning the allocation of airport slots, namely the temporary suspension of the "use it or lose it" rule.

    The Commission said that it would take into consideration, case by case, the impact of the Iraqi war on air transport due to closure of airspace.

    External relations in the aviation sector

    The Council took note of the presentations by Vice-President De Palacio of

    • the draft Council Decision authorising the Commission to open negotiations with the United States in the field of air transport,

    • the Communication from the Commission on relations between the Community and third countries in the field of air transport,

    • the proposal for a Regulation on the negotiation and implementation of air service agreements (ASAs) between Member States and third countries,

    • the Recommendation for a Council decision authorising the Commission to open negotiations with third countries on air carrier ownership and control and other issues within Community exclusive competence,

    on the basis of which the Council proceeded with a policy debate.

    Ministers reacted both to the principal policy content of the four elements, as well as to the procedural approach chosen, in particular concerning

      - the importance of reaching an overall agreement on these files at the June Council;

      - the need, pending the implementation of a horizontal "Community carrier" mandate, for Member States to be able to negotiate in parallel with third country partners with a view to reducing the vulnerability of bilateral agreements to legal challenge;

      - the need to explain and give appropriate assurances to third countries regarding the manner in which safety oversight of community carriers is guaranteed within the Community.

    The Presidency summed up the debate by noting the complexity of the issue but nevertheless the general willingness of delegations to cooperate with a view to seeking a substantive overall agreement on these files, including the draft Decision authorising negotiations with the US, at the next session of the Council in June. The Council invited the Committee of Permanent Representatives to accelerate the examination of the measures submitted by the Commission with a view to achieving such an agreement.

    It is recalled that on 5 November 2002 the European Court of Justice ruled in the so-called "open skies" cases against eight Member States that had signed bilateral ASAs with the US. Following these rulings, the Commission requested urgent adoption of the US mandate and also came forward with the three further above-mentioned initiatives with a view to tackling the different issues at stake in the follow-up to these Court rulings.

    UNFAIR PRICING PRACTICES

    The Council, on the basis of a report from the Presidency, held a policy debate on the proposal for a Regulation concerning protection against subsidisation and unfair pricing practices in the supply of airline services from countries not members of the European Community.

    During the debate, Member States

    • supported the principle objective of ensuring fair competition in the international market for aviation services;

    • stressed the importance of a practical mechanism under which measures can be taken rapidly, as is appropriate for the fast-moving aviation market;

    • underlined that clarity was needed regarding the relationship of such a Community mechanism with Member States' bilateral arrangements with third countries.

    The Council instructed the Permanent Representatives Committee to continue the examination of the proposal with a view to presenting a draft text to the Council for agreement on a common position as soon as possible.

    Safety of third countries aircraft using community airports

    Public deliberation

    The Council reached a political agreement on the draft Directive on the safety of third countries aircraft using community airports, it being understood that the Permanent Representatives Committee will finalise the text in the near future.

    This Directive aims at introducing a harmonised approach to the effective enforcement of international safety standards within the Community, by harmonising the rules and procedures for ramp inspections of third-country aircraft landing at airports located in the Member States.

    It is recalled that the first legislative process on this file was interrupted because of the Gibraltar issue. The Commission submitted in January 2002 a new proposal largely inspired by the 1998 Common position of the Council. The draft Directive now on the table contains Gibraltar clauses inserted after the agreement on this issue was reached in the first half of 2002.

    INLAND transport

    Ecopoint system

    Public deliberation

    The Council adopted by qualified majority, the Austrian, Belgian, Italian delegation and the Netherlands voting against, its Common position on the proposed Regulation establishing a transitional transit system applicable to heavy goods vehicles travelling through Austria for 2004.

    The Council took note of the opinions expressed by the delegations voting against as well as of those urging a solution within the foreseen time limits in the light of the compromise reached at the 31 December 2002 Council session. The Council decided to transmit this Common position to the European Parliament, together with the accompanying statement of reasons.

    It is recalled that the draft Regulation as proposed by the Commission aims at extending the main elements of the present ecopoint system - which expires on 31 December 2003 - to the year 2004; a possible extension to 2005 and 2006 is foreseen. In the framework of the transitional transit system each lorry has to "pay" a certain number of points for a transit through Austria - corresponding to the category to which the vehicle belongs (EURO 0, 1, 2, 3): the most polluting lorries (EURO 0) pay the most points.

    The European Parliament delivered its opinion in first reading on last 12 February. None of the EP amendments acceptable to the Commission have been taken on board by the Council.

    The Common Position agrees to the establishment of a "transitional transit system" for 2004. The Council also agrees that this system be extended to 2005 and 2006 in case the Eurovignette proposal on charging for the use of infrastructure has not been adopted by 31 December 2004 and 31 December 2005, respectively.

    However, the Council introduced a number of changes on the Regulation as proposed by the Commission. In order to promote the use of environmentally friendly lorries, the Council prohibited the transit of EURO 0 vehicles, with the exception of those registered in Greece or Portugal taking account, inter alia, of the structure of the heavy goods vehicle fleet in these Member States - and of certain highly specialised vehicles of high cost and with a long economic life span.

    Furthermore, the transit of EURO 4 standard vehicles (the cleanest vehicles) will not be subjected to the transitional transit system. However, in case of an extension of the system to 2005 and 2006, the Commission should undertake an analysis of the transit of EURO 4 standard vehicles and reduce the amount of available ecopoints within the respective quotum bands as set out in the Council draft common position. In the case of no transit of EURO 4 standard vehicles, the amount in the maximum quotum band would be respected; in the case of transit of EURO 4 standard vehicles, the amount of points to be distributed as from 2005 would be adjusted downwards, in accordance with the findings of the Commission's analysis, within the limits of the corresponding minimum quotum band.

    Second railway package

    The Council, on the basis of an overall Presidency compromise, reached by qualified majority a political agreement, the French, Belgian and Luxembourg delegation voting against, on its Common position on the "Second Railway Package", i.e. the four legislative proposals on

    • the Directive on the interoperability of the trans-European rail system; (public deliberation)

    • the Directive on safety on the Community's railways; (public deliberation)

    • the Directive on the development of the Community's railways ("Market Access"); (public deliberation)

    • the Regulation establishing a European Railway Agency; (public deliberation)

    and

    • the Council Decision authorising the Commission to negotiate the conditions for Community accession to the Convention concerning International Carriage by Rail (COTIF) of 9 May 1980, as amended by the Vilnius Protocol of 3 June 1999.

    The Council, following the revision of the text by the Jurist/Linguists and further appropriate refinements to be decided by the Permanent Representatives Committee, will adopt as an A-item at one of its forthcoming sessions, its common position with a view to its transmission to the European Parliament in the context of the co-decision procedure.

    The compromise contains the following elements regarding

    • the draft Directive on Market Access:

      • railway undertakings shall be granted, on equitable conditions, and at the latest by 1 January 2006, access to the entire rail network, for the purpose of operating international freight services.

      • In addition, at the latest by 1 January 2008, railway undertakings shall be granted, on equitable conditions, access to the infrastructure in all Member States for the purpose of operating all type of rail freight services.

      • By 1 January 2007, the Commission shall submit a report on the implementation of the Market Access Directive. Moreover, the Commission intends to present by end of 2003 to the European Parliament and the Council a proposal relating to the introduction of a European driving licence for train drivers;

    • regarding the draft Directive on safety and in particular on the issue of notification procedures for new national safety rules which require a higher safety level than the Common Safety Targets (CST):

      • a Member State - before adopting such a rule - shall consult all interested parties in due time and shall inform the Commission which shall submit the draft safety rule to a special Committee for its opinion.

      • If the Commission finds that the draft rule is incompatible with Common Safety Measures (CSM) or with achieving at least the CST, or that it constitutes a means of arbitrary discrimination or a disguised restriction on rail transport operations between Member States, a Decision, addressed to the Member State concerned, shall be adopted.

    It is recalled that the Second Railway Package forms an integrated whole. The draft Directives regarding Interoperability and Safety aim to achieve progress as regards the compatibility of standards relating thereto. These Directives, together with the draft Directive on the development of the Community's railways (the "market access" proposal), will allow for the eventual completion of the internal market for the European railway sector to take place. The European Railway Agency would be a technical body consisting of approximately 100 persons providing the Community on a strictly advisory basis with the necessary expertise and means to act effectively on railway safety and interoperability in particular. Finally, the draft Council Decision provides for the accession of the Community to the COTIF the Convention on International Transport by Rail thereby ensuring a stronger role for the EU in the development of international rail transport.

    Tunnel Safety

    Public deliberation

    The Council took note of information by the Commission on the proposal for a Directive on minimum safety requirements for tunnels in the Trans-European Road Network.

    The Council took also note of the views expressed by some delegations in particular regarding the proposed classification scheme, the timetable for the implementation, as well as the financial implications.

    In the light of Ministers' interventions, the Council instructed the Permanent Representatives Committee to further examine the draft Directive.

    The primary objective of this proposal is the prevention of serious accidents that endanger human life as well as the environment and which might damage tunnel installations. Secondly, it aims at reducing consequences of tunnel accidents by, for example guaranteeing efficient emergency services. The objectives would apply to new and existing TERN-tunnels of over 500m length. In order to achieve the targets the Commission proposes, through a classification scheme, a minimum set of safety standards and a multilevel administrative authority supervising the tunnel-safety.

    other business

    SHIPPING

    • Civil liability regime and compensation arrangements in the event of oil pollution

    • Protection of particularly sensitive areas

    The Council took note of the opinions of delegations on issues closely linked to the Prestige disaster, namely, on the one hand, at the request of the Belgian and French delegation, on the regime for civil liability and the compensation for oil pollution damages as well as, on the other hand, at the request of the French delegation, on the protection of Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas (PSSA).

    On the civil liability issue, the two delegations highlighted the need to modify the international liability regime relating to the compensation for pollution damages caused by spills from oil tankers, in order for it to reflect to a higher degree the "polluter-payer"-principle. This was welcomed by several delegations.

    On the PSSA issue, the initiative of five delegations (Spain, France, Ireland, Portugal, United Kingdom) to submit a paper to the IMO on the creation of a PSSA along their coasts was broadly supported.

    The 6 December 2002 Council conclusions on the matter are recalled: "The Council

    URGES the Member States that have common interests in sensitive sea areas to identify and formulate coordinated proposals for the areas to be protected as Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas by IMO. URGES the IMO to develop the use of the instrument of designating Sensitive Sea Areas (SSA) and Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas (PSSA);

    REAFFIRMS the support of Member States to establish a supplementary compensation fund, developed in the IMO, to the benefit of the victims of oil pollution, which should be able to cover any future oil-spills up to EUR 1 000 million in the waters of the Member States of the EU foreseeing a rapid mechanism for payments and being operational by the end of 2003, and the intention of those Member States, which are parties to the existing global compensation regimes, to ratify the new supplementary fund. AGREES, in the event that the supplementary compensation fund is not established, to examine immediately a regulation on the establishment of a fund for the compensation of oil pollution damage in European waters, with the aim of establishing this fund before the end of 2003;"

    The Brussels European Council conclusions of last 21 March on this matter are also recalled.

    HORIZONTAL ISSUES

    • Liberalisation of transport services in relation with the GATS negotiations

    • 50th anniversary of the ECMT (European Conference of Ministers of Transport

    The Council took note of information provided by the Belgian delegation as regards its stance on the negotiations within the framework of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) as regards the transport services sector, and on the 87th session of the Council of Ministers of the ECMT in Brussels on next 22 - 24 April, which marks the fiftieth anniversary of that organisation.

    ITEMS APPROVED WITHOUT DEBATE

    EXTERNAL RELATIONS

    Restrictive measures against AlQuaida and the Taliban Exceptions

    The Council adopted a Regulation amending Regulation 881/2002 on restrictive measures directed against certain persons and entities associated with Usama bin Laden, the AlQuaida network and the Taliban, in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1452 (2002) on exceptions to the freezing of funds and economic resources. (Doc. 7663/03)

    The Regulation is aimed at implementing Common Position 2003/140/CFSP, adopted by the Council on 27 February.

    Relations with Poland - new mutual agricultural concessions

    The Council adopted a Decision on the conclusion of a Protocol adjusting the trade aspects of the EU-Poland Europe Agreement. (Doc. 6608/03)

    The Commission held two rounds of negotiations with the ten associated Countries of Central and Eastern Europe with a view to establishing new mutual concessions for agricultural products. As regards Poland, the outcome of these negotiations was implemented in January 2001 by way of autonomous and transitional measures. The present Decision aims to incorporate this outcome in a Protocol which will replace the autonomous measures.

    Relations with Romania - regional aid map

    The Council approved a draft Decision to be taken by the EU-Romania Association Committee on a regional aid map for the assessment of public aid granted by Romania. (Doc. 7513/03)

    Under the draft Decision, the maximum aid intensity applicable in Romania will be limited, in net grant equivalent, to 50% of total costs. It may be raised by 15 gross percentage points in the case of aid granted to small and medium-sized enterprises. The maximum will constitute the upper limit applicable whenever assistance is granted concurrently under several regional schemes, and regardless of whether it comes from local, regional, national or Community sources.

    The Decision (to be taken by written procedure) will apply until 31 December 2006, or up to the date of Romania's accession to the European Union, whichever comes first.

    TRADE POLICY

    Antidumping Unalloyed magnesium from China

    The Council adopted a Regulation terminating an antidumping procedure and repealing an antidumping duty on imports of unwrought unalloyed magnesium originating in the People's Republic of China. (Doc. 7074/03)

    The duties were imposed by in November 1998 by Regulation 2402/98 after an investigation following a complaint lodged on behalf of the sole Community producer of unwrought unalloyed magnesium. In June 2002, the complainant withdrew its complaint, the Community producer having ceased its production.

    DEVELOPMENT COOPERATION

    European Development Fund Financial Regulation*

    The Council adopted a Council Regulation on a Financial Regulation applicable to the ninth European Development Fund, in accordance with agreed provisions on the financing and administration of Community aid under the Partnership Agreement, signed in Cotonou (Benin), between the African Caribbean and Pacific States and the Community and its Member States. (Doc. 6616/1/03 REV 1 (en))

    The Regulation establishes detailed rules for the payment of Member State contributions to the 9th EDF and for the allocation of financial assistance for Overseas Countries and Territories, as well as the conditions in which the Court of Auditors is to exercise its powers in respect of the EDF and rules for the treatment of balances remaining from previous EDFs.

    It is aimed at ensuring the proper, prompt and efficient execution of programmes and projects financed under the Cotonou Agreement, which will enter into force on 1 April following its ratification by two thirds of ACP States, the Member States and the Community.

    Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation staff regulations *

    The Council approved a draft Decision aimed at adjusting, from 1 July 2002, the remuneration and taxable amounts laid down in the staff regulations of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation, and decided to forward it for adoption (by written procedure) by the ACPEC Committee of Ambassadors. (Doc. 6374/03)

    HEALTH

    Advertising and sponsorship of tobacco products *

    Public deliberation

    The Council adopted in first reading a Directive concerning the advertising and sponsorship of tobacco products. In accordance with the political agreement reached on 2-3 December 2002 (Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council), it was adopted with the addition of the two amendments introduced by the European Parliament. The German and United Kingdom delegations voted against.

    (Docs 3601/03 and 7240/03 ADD 1)

    The Directive is aimed at harmonising national regulations on tobacco advertising in printed media, radio broadcasting and information society services, as well as on sponsorship of events with cross-border effects with the aim of promoting tobacco products. It does so whilst ensuring the free movement of the media concerned and with a view to eliminating obstacles to the operation of the internal market. Moreover, it aims at banning, with a few limited exceptions, advertising and sponsorship of tobacco products in the sectors and cases mentioned above.

    It is intended to replace Directive 98/43/EC, which was annulled by the Court of Justice on 5 October 2000 on the grounds that some of its provisions were not in conformity with the legal basis on which it had been adopted, namely article 95 of the Treaty (approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States in the context of the establishment and functioning of the internal market).

    It builds on the relevant provisions, with regard to television advertising and sponsorship of tobacco products, of Directive 97/36/EC concerning the pursuit of television broadcasting activities (so-called "Television without frontiers" Directive).

    APPOINTMENTS

    Committee of the Regions

    The Council adopted the Decisions appointing:

    • Mr Hans-Georg KLUGE as alternate member of the Committee of the Regions in place of Mr Gustav-Adolf STANGE for the remainder of his term of office, which expires on 25 January 2006.

    • Mr Declan McDONNELL as member of the Committee of the Regions in place of Ms Mae SEXTON for the remainder of her term of office, which expires on 25 January 2006.

    (Docs 7271/03 and 7268/03)

    DECISIONS ADOPTED BY WRITTEN PROCEDURE

    INTERNAL MARKET

    Public procurement procedures *

    The Council adopted on 20 March 2003 both the Common Positions on the coordination of procedures for the award of public supply contracts, public service contracts and public works contracts ("classical" directive), as well as on coordinating the procurement procedures of entities operating in the water, energy, transport and postal services sectors ("utilities" directive).

    (Docs 11029/02, 12634/02 and 5807/03 ADD 1 + COR 1)

    With regard to the "classical" directive, the common position aims at providing a clear legal framework for public procurement with due regard to the need for a high degree of practicability for all parties concerned. It maintains the original concept and objective of the Commission's proposal. At the same time the Council has decided to integrate a number of EP amendments, at least in substance, in an effort to meet Parliament's concerns and to provide additional clarity on a number of important points.

    The common position on the "utilities" directive maintains the concept and objectives of the Commission's original proposal while integrating several of the Parliament's amendments , at least in substance. The Council has to a large extent aligned the text of the common position on the "utilities" directive to the "classical" directive, hereby underlining the fact that the two directives are to be seen as integral parts of a new legal framework for public procurement in the European Union.

    ECOFIN

    Directive on prospectuses *

    Following the finalisation of the text by the legal-linguistic experts, the Council adopted on 24 March 2003 a common position with a view to the adoption of Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the prospectus to be published when securities are offered to the public or admitted to trading. The Irish delegation abstained from voting.

    (Docs 5390/03 and 7022/03)

    The purpose of this Directive is to harmonise requirements for the drawing up, approval and distribution of the prospectus to be published when securities are offered to the public or admitted to trading on a regulated market situated or operating within a Member State.

    It is recalled that, pending the finalisation of the text by the legal-linguistic experts, the Council reached unanimous agreement (Ireland abstaining) on the text of the common position on 5 November 2002.

    ________________________

    (1) ?Where declarations, conclusions or resolutions have been formally adopted by the Council, this is indicated in the heading for the item concerned and the text is placed between quotation marks.?The documents whose references are given in the text are available on the Council's Internet site HYPERLINK "http://register.consilium.europa.eu/scripts/utfregisterDir/WebDriver.exe?MIval=advanced&MIlang=EN&fc=REGAISEN&srm=5&ssf=&mt=128&md=100"http://consilium.europa.eu.?Acts adopted with statements for the Council minutes which may be released to the public are indicated by an asterisk; these statements are available on the above mentioned Council Internet site or may be obtained from the Press Office.


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