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Siim Kallas

Vice-President of the Commission, responsible for transport

Statement following extraordinary meeting of transport ministers

Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED

Extraordinary transport ministers meeting (Council)

Brussels, 4 May 2010

"Let's be clear about one thing. This is going to continue to happen. It might be next week. It might be in 20 years. But it will happen again; and volcanoes do not obey rules. So we need to be faster and more flexible in our response.

Most importantly, we need a package of measures to ensure that millions of people and businesses never have to re-live the crisis of the last few weeks.

Ministers have agreed to work on five priority areas:

    1. The Commission will lead work to present new EU proposals for managing risk from volcanic activity to the ICAO in September this year.

    2. We will fast track the Single European Sky package. We need a single European regulator for a single European sky. This would not solve every problem. But it would mean a much faster co-ordinated response in a crisis. Major elements of the Single Sky Package will be in place by end-2010, including a crisis cell.

    3. The Commission will work with national authorities to draw up guidance to ensure uniform application of rules for passengers.

    4. Member States have supported the Commission's approach on the need for flexible measures to ease the pressure on airlines. The Commission also stands ready to draw up European guidelines to ensure that if Member States decide to grant state aid, we avoid undue distortions to competition.

These measures are essential. But they are not enough.

    5. This crisis has exposed structural weaknesses in the ability of different European transport modes to substitute for each other.

We need more Europe to:

  • remove transport bottlenecks;

  • build pan-European networks;

  • and put in place pan-European mobility planning.

No one can prevent a volcano eruption or other kinds of natural disaster. But we can build strong pan-European transport systems, so that different modes can ease the pressure when a crisis occurs. The status quo is not good enough.

The Commission is working to identify major bottlenecks blocking transport connections between different modes. In June we will consult with ministers at the Transport Council on possible options for a framework for pan-European mobility planning. We will never compromise on safety, but we have to do everything possible to safeguard our citizens' freedom to travel as well."

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