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11599/98 (Presse 319)

2119th meeting of the Council


Luxembourg, 1 October 1998

  •     President: Mr Caspas ETNEM
  •       Federal Minister for Science and Transport of the Republic of Austria



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    [Graphic in PDF & Word format]
















    Electronic fee collection and White Paper on fair fees  12

    Social harmonisation in the field of road transport  13

    Introduction into service of buses and coaches no more than 15 metres in length  13

    Driving licences  14

    GNSS progress of talks with the United States, Russia and Japan  14



    •  Financial support for combined transport  I
    •  Access to the profession of road haulage and road passenger transport operator  I


    •   Agreement between EEC and the Comoros  III


    •  OECD Ministerial Conference on electronic commerce  IV

    For further information: tel. 285.60.83 285.68.08

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


    Mr Michel DAERDEN

    Minister for Transport


    Ms Sonja MIKKELSEN

    Mr Ole ZACCHI

    Minister for Transport

    State Secretary, Ministry of Transport


    Mr Jochen GRÜNHAGE

    Deputy Permanent Representative


    Mr Anastasios MANTELIS

    Minister for Transport and Communications


    Mr Albert VILALTA

    State Secretary, Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport


    Mr Jean-Claude GAYSSOT

    Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Housing


    Ms Mary O'ROURKE

    Minister for Public Enterprise


    Mr Claudio BURLANDO

    Minister for Transport and Shipping



    Minister for Transport


    Ms Tineke NETELENBOS

    Minister for Communications and Public Works


    Mr Caspar EINEM

    Federal Minister for Science and Transport


    Mr João CRAVINHO

    Mr António Guilhermino RODRIGUES

    Minister for Infrastructure, Planning and Territorial Administration

    State Secretary, Ministry of Transport


    Mr Matti AURA

    Mr Juhani KORPELA

    Minister for Communications

    State Secretary, Ministry of Communications


    Ms Ines UUSMANN


    Minister for Communications

    State Secretary, Ministry of Communications

    United Kingdom:

    Mr John REID

    Minister of State, Ministry of Defence, Minister for the Armed Forces

     * * *


    Mr Neil KINNOCK




    The Presidency having reached the opinion that these two subjects should be dealt with at the same time, the Council noted the state of play regarding the proposal for a Directive on the charging of heavy goods vehicles of certain infrastructures (Eurovignette) and the outcome of the Swiss referendum of 27 September on the charging of road transport operations.

    After having heard the statements by Commission delegations, the President concluded that the discussions had been extremely useful with the next meeting of the Council on 30 November and 1 December in mind. He said that a constructive, pragmatic approach was needed if a favourable solution was to be found then.

    As a reminder:

    • * Eurovignette:
    •  In its judgment of 5 July, the Court of Justice annulled Directive 93/89/EEC of 25 October 1993 but maintained the latter's effects in force pending adoption of a new Directive. Annulment was on institutional procedure grounds, the Court having demanded that the Council consult the European Parliament. Articles 75 and 99 of the Treaty (unanimity and consultation of the European Parliament) constitute the legal basis of this Directive.
    •  A new replacement proposal was forwarded by the Commission to the Council in July 1996.
    •  The Council's policy discussions on this proposal since October 1996 have as yet failed to produce agreement.
    • * Negotiations with Switzerland:
    •  Regular contacts between the Commission and Switzerland have taken place since the Council meeting of 11 March 1997, at which the Council urged the Commission to continue negotiations with due regard for the existing terms of reference.


    The Council reached agreement on its common position on the proposal for a Directive on transportable pressure equipment. After finalisation of the text, the common position will be formally adopted at a forthcoming Council meeting and forwarded to the European Parliament in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 75 of the Treaty (cooperation procedure).

    It will be remembered that Directive 97/23/EC, which concerns the placing on the market of pressure equipment, excluded transportable pressure equipment, hereafter referred to as TPE, from its scope, stating that such equipment would be dealt with as soon as possible by forthcoming Community Directives, in that they are covered by the provisions of the European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR) and of the Regulations concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Rail (RID) as transposed into Community law in Directives 94/55/EC and 96/49/EC. These Directives established the technical requirements with regard to safety in the transport of dangerous goods, including the requirements applicable to TPE. Under these Directives, the Member States are not bound to the mutual recognition of approvals granted to TPE in respect of both placing on the market and periodic inspections.

    The aim of the draft common position is to establish a legal framework intended to make TPE safer through the uniform compulsory application of the technical provisions applicable to such equipment.

    At the present time, Member States may, for transport purposes, require equipment already approved in another Member State to be subject to further approval when it is either placed on the market or used in their territory.

    The purpose of the draft is to ensure the safety of transport operations and to achieve free movement of TPA in the Community.

    With regard to the free movement, placing on the market and use of TPE, the draft provides for:

    •  the mutual recognition of approvals granted by inspection bodies which have had to meet common quality criteria before being appointed by the competent national authorities;
    •  the introduction of a Community mark of conformity enabling approved TPE to be easily identified and constituting a guarantee of a high safety level.

    Manufacturers will, therefore no longer have to obtain approval for their TPE from the national administration of each Member State in which they wish to place their equipment on the market. Once a Member State has granted approval and affixed a mark of conformity, they may proceed to market, transport or use the equipment throughout the Community.

    The advantage of this new procedure is that the superfluous costs and administrative procedures arising from having to obtain approval for the equipment in all the Member States concerned are eliminated.

    As regards the safety of transport operations, the proposal provides for:

    •  the application of harmonised procedures for the periodic inspection of existing TPE,
    •  the application of harmonised conformity assessment procedures for all new TPE.


    In an initial policy debate, the Council examined two proposals for a Directive encouraging the use of combined transport to replace road transport, which is expanding all the time.

    One proposal amends Direcive 92/106/EEC on the establishment of common rules for certain types of combined transport of goods between Member States and the other amends Directive 96/53/EC laying down, for certain road vehicles circulating within the Community, the maximum authorised dimensions in national and international traffic and the maximum authorised weights in international traffic.

    The proposed amendments to Directive 92/106/EEC cover a new (more precise and less flexible) definition of combined transport, certain measures (particularly fiscal) to encourage combined transport and the lifting of weekend, night, holiday period, etc. ... driving restrictions for initial and final road haulage.

    The amendment of Directive 96/53/EC concerns the increase in the maximum authorised weight to 42 or 44 tonnes, according to the vehicle, for road haulage vehicles engaged in combined transport.

    The debate covered a number of key questions, viz. should as clear and flexible as possible a definition of combined transport be introduced, should financial aid be granted to make the sector more competitive and should the fixing of a higher maximum weight (up to 44 tonnes) be authorised in the case of vehicles used in combined transport.

    At the end of the debate, the Presidency noted that:

    •  a majority in favour of the Commission proposals existed in principle;
    •  the definition of combined transport should be flexible and that it might also be useful to take an existing definition as a basis;
    •  measures to promote combined transport should include financial incentives but that the pertinent details remained to be discussed;
    •  in order to make combined transport more attractive, the fixing of a higher maximum weight should be considered.

    The Council instructed the Permanent Representatives Committee to continue examination of the proposals so as to enable the Council to agree to the whole package at its next meeting planned for 30 November and 1 December 1998.

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    [Graphic in PDF & Word format]


    Commissioner KINNOCK gave the Council an oral presentation on three proposals for Directives on the development of the railways. These three proposals are part of what is generally known as the "infrastructures package".

    The proposals are as follows:

    •  a Directive amending Directive 91/440/EEC on the development of the Community's railways; the allocation of railway infrastructure capacity and the levying of charges for the use of railway infrastructures;
    •  a Directive amending Directive 95/18/EC on the licensing of railway undertakings;
    •  a Directive on the allocation of railway infrastructure capacity, the charging of infrastructure fees and safety certification.

    Following interventions from several delegations, the Presidency summed up by saying that the exchange of views had enabled the Council to appreciate the importance of the proposals and hence to ask the Permanent Representatives Committee to begin examining them at an early date.



    The Council noted the difficulty of reaching unanimous agreement on giving the Commission an enlarged mandate regarding this dossier.

    The Council agreed that work should continue at an appropriate level to ensure that the next Council could reach conclusions on this matter.


    The Council recorded agreement on a common position on a draft Regulation on the registration and use within the Community of certain types of civil subsonic jet aeroplanes which have been modified and recertificated as meeting the standards of the Convention on International Civil Aviation of July 1993, so-called "hushkitted aircraft".

    It will be remembered that the Council decided to convert the original proposal for a Directive, submitted to the Council in March, into a Regulation so that the measure in question could enter into force as soon as possible.

    This draft Regulation aims to prevent further deterioration in the noise level around Community airports. It comprises the following main features:

    •  a "non-addition" rule which prevents Member States, as from 1 April 1999, adding to their national register older aircraft which have been modified to improve their sound performance;
    •  a "non-operation" rule, taking effect on 1 April 2002, which aims to put an end to the operation in Community territory of recertificated civil subsonic jet aeroplanes registered in third countries unless the operator of such aeroplanes can prove that they were included on the registers of the third country in question on 1 April 1999 and they were operated prior to that date between 1 April 1995 and 1 April 1999 into Community territory;
    •  a "non-operation" rule taking effect on 1 April 2002 for recertificated civil subsonic jet aeroplanes registered in a Member State unless they were operated in Community territory before 1 April 1999.


    The Council noted with satisfaction the progress made on this draft Regulation.

    Given the number of questions outstanding, including in particular the consequences of extending the scope of the Regulation to non-scheduled flights, reimbursement of the difference in the ticket price in the event of down-grading, supplementary compensation for the passenger's personal inconvenience, the definition of overbooked flights and the leaflet to be supplied to passengers, the Council instructed the Permanent Representatives Committee to continue working on the dossier so that a common position could be achieved at the next Council meeting.

    The aim of the draft is to clarify certain provisions of Regulation No 295/91 to give greater protection to passenger' rights, and in particular their right to better information in the event of denied-boarding. The revised Regulation also proposes to amend the minimum amount of compensation the airline has to pay the passenger who is denied boarding as a result of overbooking.

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    [Graphic in PDF & Word format]


    The Council took note of the Italian delegation's intervention regarding the Commission's decision on the distribution of air traffic between the airports in the Milan airport system and of Commissioner KINNOCK's presentation on the same subject.

    The Council urged the Italian delegation and the Commission to continue talks to find a satisfactory solution, while respecting Community legislation, in particular the principle of non-discrimination.

    Other business

    Electronic fee collection and White Paper on an infrastructure charging framework

    Commissioner KINNOCK briefed the Council on progress on electronic fee charging.

    This dossier is one of the subjects covered by the White Paper on infrastructure use, a phased approach to a common transport infrastructure charging framework in the European Union.

    The Commission will shortly be submitting specific proposals to the Council based on that White Paper.

    The Council noted Commissioner KINNOCK's information.

    Social harmonisation in the field of road transport

    The Commission reported to the Council on the negotiations between the social partners on social harmonisation as regards road transport and its plans in that area.

    The Commission told the Council that, since the negotiations between the social partners had broken down, it intended to make proposals on working hours in road transport in the near future.

    The Council took note of Commissioner KINNOCK'S information.

    Introduction into service of buses and coaches no more than 15 metres in length

    The Council noted the statement from the German delegation on the introduction into service of buses and coaches no more than 15 metres in length. That delegation wanted the question discussed at an early Council meeting.

    It will be remembered that, under Directive 96/53/EEC on the maximum authorised weights and dimensions, buses and coaches used in international transport may not exceed 12m in length; however that maximum length is not harmonised where national transport is concerned. When the Directive was adopted, the Commission undertook to examine at a later stage the question of the use in international transport of buses without trailers of a maximum length of 15m; it did so in the report it submitted to the Council on 29 May of this year.

    Driving licences

    The Council took note of the statement by the Danish delegation on the implementation of Directive 91/438/EEC on driving licences.

    Progress of talks with the United States, the Russian Federation and Japan on the establishment of a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS)

    Commissioner KINNOCK briefed the Council on the progress of talks with the United States, the Russian Federation and Japan on the establishment of a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS).

    The Commission will make specific proposals during the next Presidency on the various options with respect to the establishment of the GNSS system.

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    [Graphic in PDF & Word format]


    Adopted without discussion. In the case of legislative acts, votes against or abstentions are indicated. Decisions containing statements which the Council has decided to release to the public are indicated by asterisks; the statements in question may be obtained from the Press Office.


    Financial assistance to promote combined transport *

    The Council adopted by a qualified majority, with the German delegation voting against, a Regulation concerning the granting of Community financial assistance for actions of an innovative nature to promote combined transport.

    The general aim of the Regulation is to increase the use of combined transport, as an alternative to "road only" transport.

    According to the Regulation, the programme covers a period of five years (1997-2001), with a total Community budget of ECU 35 million. Its scope covers, as a matter of priority, combined transport services over routes situated in Community territory but also, under certain conditions, routes situated partly outside the Community. Amongst the categories of actions, those covering coastal shipping would also be eligible. Measures for the construction and improvement of the transport infrastructure network and technological research projects are excluded from the scope of the programme.

    The Commission, under the Committee procedure, grants financial assistance directly to the Member States and to natural or legal persons established within the Community for expenditure and costs incurred in Community territory.

    The text provides inter alia for granting Community financial assistance, limited to 50% of the total cost, for feasibility studies relating to a particular route and for the co-financing, limited to 30% of the total cost, of innovative actions.

    Admission to the occupation of road haulage operator and road passenger transport operator

    The Council adopted a Directive amending Directive 96/26 on admission to the occupation of road haulage operator and road passenger transport operator and mutual recognition of diplomas, certificates and other evidence of formal qualifications intended to facilitate for these operators the right to freedom of establishment in national and international transport operations.

    The aim of the Directive is to continue the process of harmonisation in the field of admission to the occupation of road transport operator. To this end, inter alia, it:

    •  extends the scope of the Directive to road transport operators using vehicles with maximum authorised weights (MAWs) exceeding 3,5 tonnes, subject to a specific derogation for undertakings using vehicles with MAWs between 3,5 and 6 tonnes for local, short-distance haulage;
    •  lays down more stringent requirements with regard to good repute, namely that this condition is not or is no longer satisfied, in particular, where the operator has been convicted of serious offences against certain rules relating to transport, including offences relating to rules for the protection of the environment and other rules concerning professional liability;
    •  increases the amounts which must be available to the undertaking to fulfil the requirements relating to financial standing: the undertaking must have available capital and reserves of at least ECU 9 000 when only one vehicle is used and ECU 5 000 for each additional vehicle, existing undertakings must fulfil the requirement of financial standing two years after the deadline for the implementation of the Directive;
    •  makes provision for a more detailed examination procedure and the updating and extension of the list of examination subjects, introduces a harmonised minimum level of knowledge required in each subject and retains different examinations depending on whether the applicant wishes to carry out national or international transport operations;
    •  retains the measure laid down by Directive 96/26/EC on permanent exemption from examination for applicants who provide proof of at least five years' practical experience, but adds the condition that applicants may be subject to a test, the arrangements for which shall be determined by the Member States in accordance with the list set out in the Directive;
    •  as a transitional measure, allows a Member State to require any natural person who holds a certificate of professional competence issued by another Member State when the holder was normally resident in the first Member State to pass an additional examination covering specific national aspects of the profession of road transport operator organised by the authority or body designated by the first Member State;
    •  requires undertakings to undergo regular checks, at least every five years, to ensure that they still fulfil the requirements of good repute, financial standing and professional competence.


    Agreement between the EEC and the Comoros

    The Council adopted a Regulation relating to the conclusion of the Protocol setting out, for the period 28 February 1998 to 27 February 2001, the fishing opportunities and financial contribution provided for in the Agreement between the European Economic Community and the Islamic Federal Republic of the Comoros on fishing off the Comoros.

    The opportunities fixed in the Protocol will be allocated among the Member States as follows:

    • tuna seiners:    Spain  22 vessels
    •        France  21 vessels
    •        Italy   1 vessel
      • surface longliners:   Spain  13 vessels
    •        Portugal  3 vessels.

    The financial compensation is fixed at ECU 180 000 per year. During the period covered by the Protocol, the Community will contribute an additional ECU 540 000 to financing the measures described below, allocated as follows:

    •  the financing of scientific and technical programmes to increase knowledge of the fishery resources in Comorian waters: ECU 250 000;
    •  support for the structures responsible for fisheries surveillance: ECU 70 000;
    •  institutional support to the Ministry responsible for fisheries: ECU 50 000;
    •  the financing of study grants, practical training courses or seminars in the various scientific, technical and economic fields linked to fishing: ECU 60 000;
    •  the Comoros' contribution to the international fisheries organisations: ECU 70 000;
    •  the expenses of Comorian delegates participating in international meetings concerning fisheries: ECU 40 000.


    OECD Ministerial Conference on electronic commerce

    The Council and the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States, meeting within the Council, adopted the conclusions set out below relating to the forthcoming OECD Ministerial Conference "A Borderless World: Realising the Potential of Global Electronic Commerce" to be held in Ottawa from 7 to 9 October 1998.

    "With a view to ensuring coordination of the Community position on the global issues affecting electronic commerce, in particular on the four main "deliverables" for the OECD conference (data protection, taxation, consumer protection and authentication), the Member States and the Commission shall ensure in their interventions at the conference that the positions conveyed are consistent with the "acquis communautaire".

    The Council and the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States take note of the working document from the services of the Commission on the Ottawa OECD Ministerial Conference from 7 to 9 October and the OECD preparatory works on Electronic Commerce."


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