EU transport ministers speeding on
EU transport ministers speeding on with logistics programme
Helsinki, Finland – One of the aims of Finland’s Presidency of the European Union is to move forward on drafting an action programme for European Union logistics. The meeting of the Council of Transport Ministers in Brussels on 12 December 2006 will lay the groundwork for such a programme in its conclusions.
The first version of a programme for increasing the effectiveness of European freight logistics could be available already in the spring of 2007, when Germany holds the EU Presidency. Logistics has been the most important focus of transport policy during Finland’s Presidency.
The transport ministers’ conclusions will feature such themes as the removal of transport bottlenecks, the utilisation of information technology, and the promotion of intelligent transport systems.
The Council will seek to achieve a general approach on the directive concerning the fitting of “blind-spot” mirrors to heavy goods vehicles. The mirrors would extend drivers’ fields of vision and improve the safety of cyclists and pedestrians in particular. The question of how the directive would apply to vehicles that are already on the roads is still open. As holder of the EU Presidency, Finland will try to find a compromise that suits all the member states.
The Council is expected to adopt conclusions with regard to Short Sea Shipping, maritime shipping within the EU. Here the aim is to integrate freight logistics seamlessly into the transport chain, for example through developing ports. The proper functioning of the “Motorways of the Seas” which form part of the Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN) should be achieved by 2010.
The aim with regard to the Port State Control directive is to achieve a general approach. The Commission is trying to improve the control of ships calling at the ports of EU member states by focusing inspections of vessels that are in bad condition. The penalties for infringements would be tightened up. This directive is part of the “third package” of legislative measures on maritime safety.
The Council will probably authorise the EU member states to ratify the Consolidated Maritime Labour Convention of the International Labour Organisation. The Convention will strengthen the minimum working conditions in the field of maritime shipping. Finland welcomes such a decision by the Council.
The ministers will also consider a proposal to authorise the Commission to open negotiations for an agreement with Ukraine in the field of air transport. The Council will hear a report from the Commission on the agreement of the dispute concerning Siberian overflights which the EU and Russia reached at the Helsinki summit in November
At lunch the ministers will discuss the future location of the European GNSS Supervisory Authority for the Galileo civilian satellite navigation system.
Telecommunications ministers emphasise information security
The telecommunications ministers of the EU will be dealing with information security in electronic communications in Brussels on 11 December 2006. They will also discuss roaming charges and the postal services directive.
With regard to information security, the aim is to obtain approval of a Council Resolution emphasising the importance of information security policy. The EU member states will be urged to increase their awareness of information security, to strengthen their R&D activities, and to focus more efforts on risk management. All parties involved in the field will be encouraged to pay proper attention to information security issues in their products and services.
With regard to roaming charges, the regulation of retail prices and the principles for calculating price caps will almost certainly feature in discussions.
The review of the telecommunications legislative package will be a theme at the dinner held the evening before the Council meeting.
Finland’s Minister of Transport and Communications, Susanna Huovinen, will preside over the meetings on both days.