SAFETY MONITOR MAY 2000 EDITION No. 31
ACROSS THE MODES
Legislative proposal 2000
In the March plenary, European Commission President Romano Prodi told MEPs that the overall aim of the legislative proposal 2000 was to try to respond to the needs of citizens and tackle key issues including transport, public health and consumer protection. He said he would be seeking to promote public transport, a single European airspace as well as coming up with new rules on maritime safety.
A European Parliamentary resolution gave its full support to the Commission for its ambitious transport policy programme especially its aim for the substantial improvement of air traffic control in European skies and particularly the improvement of transport safety in the maritime sector and on the roads.
Presentation of Commission of preliminary draft general budget – 2001
In Parliament May plenary, the Commission presented the preliminary draft general budget for 2001. For budget line B2-702 i.e. Preparation, evaluation and promotion of transport safety 9.4 million Euro commitments and 7 million Euro payments was proposed and for B2-702A (administrative costs) this was 0.6 both for commitment and payment.
This would be an increase compared to last year's budget which is more than justified. According to the road safety communciation, the socio-economic costs of road deaths means it is justifiable to spend 1 million euro to prevent a road death. This means just 10 lives need to be saved from EU action in 2001 to justify this expenditure. Road deaths and injuries annually cost the EU over 160 billion euro - around twice the EU budget for all its activity.
Working time Directive
After a lengthy process, the Conciliation Committee comprising representatives from the European Parliament and Council of Ministers reached an agreement in April to extend the working time Directive to workers in all transport sectors that are currently excluded from the legislation (see Safety Monitor 26-30).
Transport Council 28 March 2000
In April, Minister Jorge Coelho, President of the EU Transport Council outlined developments of the March Transport Council in his third exchange of views with the Parliament's Regional Policy, Transport and Tourism Committee. In his last presentation he said that transport safety issues were high on the agenda and the Presidency hoped that the March and June Council meetings would deliver results (see Safety Monitor 30).
The agenda of the Transport Council in March 2000 included much discussion on transport safety (see later sections for coverage on a mode by mode basis).
Safety advisers - transport of dangerous goods
During its March meeting, the Council approved Parliament's amendment of its common position on the Directive on examination requirements for safety advisers for the transport of dangerous goods by road, rail or inland waterway.
The Directive provides that the Member States shall set up a common minimum framework for the examination of safety advisers and the conditions for examination bodies in order to guarantee a certain level of quality and to facilitate the mutual recognition of EC certificates for the training of safety advisers (see Safety Monitor 30)
On 8 May 2000 the European Commission and the European Space Agency opened a joint office to accelerate the implementation of a navigation system by satellite Galileo.
The definition phase of Galileo, will be the object of a first assessment in June in the form of an interim report by the Commission for the Transport Council. The definition phase would end in December with a report by the Commission for the Council for Galileo's architecture and financing, the informal international negotiations and partnership with the private sector.
Better balance between transport modes
On 14 April Transport Commissioner Loyola de Palacio said during a congress on urban traffic in Madrid that restoring the balance between the different modes with appropriate measures could provide social benefits, particularly in terms of road safety and minimising exposure to the risk of accidents. Road transport was by far the most dangerous form of transport.
Fair and efficient pricing was the right starting point for a reform of transport taxation which could also play a role in improving safety. Amongst other things this could involve reducing taxation on safer vehicles.
Joint transport initiatives EU - Japan
The European Commission and the Japanese government have agreed initiatives to cooperate in transport policy, including a joint working group to examine the development of clean urban transport. In February 2000 the two sides also agreed to cooperate in securing multilateral norms for maritime security, particularly for oil tankers, to swap information on aerial deregulation, to cooperate on developing a system for global satellite navigation and to exchange information on road safety.
New road safety communication
Transport Commissioner Loyola de Palacio presented the Commission communication on priorities in EU road safety. The Council took note of that presentation and instructed the Permanent Representatives Committee to prepare for the discussions the Council would hold in June.
In June 1997 the Council adopted conclusions on the second Community road safety action programme for 1997-2001 (the first covered the period 1993-1996). The Commission communication takes up the suggestions included in those conclusions. It comprises
The Commission recommends that national, regional and local authorities give more weight to the fact that the cost of preventing accidents is generally much less than their economic cost. Accordingly the Commission recommends increased investment in road safety measures and the development of mechanisms that will enable those taking decisions and bearing the costs of their implementation to perceive more directly the benefits of road safety measures.
As regards the measures to be taken, the Commission defines six priorities:
In addition, three supporting measures are proposed: the CARE road accident statistics data base, the integrated road safety information system and support for research into vehicle standards and telematics (see Safety Monitor 27, 29 and 30).
ETSC has welcomed the Commission's proposal, especially the confirmation of a legislative proposal to ensure safer car fronts for pedestrians and cyclists, which ETSC believes could mean 2,000 fewer deaths and 19,000 serious injuries less a year.
Jeanne Breen, ETSC's Executive Director said: "We welcome the emphasis on safer vehicles for EU action and safer car fronts for pedestrians and cyclists are our top priority. However, there are important omissions. If we do not go ahead with a binding upper blood alcohol limit of .50 promille this will cost 1,000 lives a year" (see ETSC website for full response: www.etsc.be)
Adaptation of Directive on seat belts and other restraining systems
The Commission has adapted the 1977 Directive on seat belts and other restraining systems to technical progress. The new Directive contains 18 annexes and Member States have to comply with it by 30 September 2000.
The amendment provides for improvements in the protection provided for passengers by requiring the installation of three-point belts with retractors for all seats of motor vehicles of category M1 (previously rear centre lap belts were permitted).
Proposal for increasing maximum length of buses to 15 metres
The European Commission adopted a new proposal on 23 March 2000 for a Council Directive amending Directive 96/53/EC on maximum weights and dimensions of road vehicles.
This extends the scope of that Directive to include buses. It foresees 15m as the maximum length of rigid buses and specific outswing requirements. The proposal will also limit the maximum length of buses fitted with additional luggage boxes to 15m, and the opportunity is taken to confirm the maximum permitted length of a bus with trailer to 18.75m. The maximum length of articulated buses remains unchanged at 18m.
Fourth Motor Insurance Directive
The European Parliament and the Council of Ministers have reached an agreement on the draft Directive concerning civil liability in respect of the circulation of motor vehicles. It aims to implement mechanisms to improve the current compensation regime for people involved in an accident while in another Member State – currently estimated at 500,000 victims annually. It was also agreed to extend the scope of the proposal to accidents taking place in non-EU countries that operate the 'Green Card' system.
In the May Plenary, Parliament voted to approve the Conciliation Agreement
Roadworthiness tests -commercial vehicles
In April the European Council adopted the Directive on roadside inspection of the roadworthiness of commercial vehicles The new Directive also applies to vehicles from third countries circulating on EU roads (see Safety Monitor 28 and 30)
During an exchange of views with the European Parliament's REGI Committee, President of Transport Council, Portuguese Minister Coelho said that a wide-ranging debate would take place in the June Council agenda to bring down the number of deaths on the EU roads.
Ari Vatanen (PPE, FI) said that road safety was a moral question which should not leave any of us cold and which should unite us into taking action. 130 people were killed every day in the EU - like an aeroplane coming down every day. However, here we were dealing with isolated accidents every day in which families are destroyed and wounded.
Believing speed to be a major factor, he asked for Mr. Coelho's personal view. He replied that he was well aware of the problem. Moreover Portugal had amongst the highest accident rate in the EU. A special programme of intensified speed controls had been introduced in certain areas and had led to a substantial improvement.
His hope was that in the June Council, other countries would come up as well with programmes to limit speed. It was, however, not easy to come up with something at EU level due to many national differences.
MARINE & INLAND WATERWAY SAFETY
Safety at sea
In March the Commission proposed a series of immediate actions to raise safety standards for oil tankers:
Later this year it would come forward with additional proposals covering systematic exchange of information between all maritime sector interests improved surveillance of shipping, and the creation of a European Committee for Maritime Safety.
Finally the oil companies are urged to sign up to a voluntary agreement not to use tankers older than 15 years.
COUNCIL OF MINISTERS
The Council held a policy debate on the basis of the recent Commission communication; the three proposals aimed at increasing the safety of oil tankers and improving inspections, and a Presidency memorandum on the subject (see above).
The Presidency memorandum analyses in detail the causes of danger at sea and underlines the need for the actions proposed by the Commission. It also emphasises the need for continued action with determination and consistency within the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
The Permanent Representatives Committee was instructed to continue the analysis of the communication and the proposals submitted by the Commission so that the Council might discuss the subject at its meeting in June.
The Council also noted that there was wide concern that a co-ordinated approach be employed in pursuit of the objective of increasing the value of compensation for damage laid down by the International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage (IFC) with a view, in particular, to providing better cover for damage to the environment.
Following the breaking up of the oil tanker Erika off the French coast the Council meeting on General Affairs in January declared the urgent need for measures to prevent any more such accidents and noted that the Commission intended to submit proposals in that area. It also noted that the Transport Council would give the highest priority to the matter.
Short sea shipping
The Greek and Dutch delegations argued for the promotion of short sea shipping. Those delegations invited Member States and the Commission to co-operate closely to ensure that national promotion and information offices for short shipping and the international network connecting them were used to the best possible effect (see Safety Monitor 27 and 29).
COUNCIL OF MINISTERS
Establishment of a European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA)
Commission Vice-President, Loyola De Palacio presented a summary of the working document on the establishment of EASA and its reception to date by the delegations to the March Transport Council. The Council instructed the Permanent Representatives Committee to continue its work on this matter towards a decision in June on the institutional arrangements.
The prime objective of EASA would be to establish a high, uniform level of safety in Europe through the formulation, approval and uniform application of all necessary aviation safety regulations.
In a letter to Transport Ministers, ETSC supported fully the principle of a Single European Air Safety Agency which could deliver a high level of air safety in Europe. However, in order that EU Treaty obligations for transport safety and consumer protection could be met, it was important that such a body was accountable to the EU institutions.
ETSC noted that while latest estimates showed that civil aviation passenger safety record was second only to rail travel on a 'distance travelled' basis, air travel was the most dangerous mode in terms of time spent travelling – 18 times more risky than rail and 10 times more risky than road. Over 80 per cent of accidents occurred in and around airports and 40 per cent of fatalities occurred in technically survivable accidents.
Single European Sky
Commissioner Loyola de Palacio announced that the Commission would submit a report to the June Council on the progress made by the high-level working group on air traffic management (set up in December 1999). She emphasised the importance with which this matter was regarded at the extraordinary meeting of the European Council in Lisbon on 23 and 24 March 2000 (see Safety Monitor 26-28 and 30).
Air passengers rights in air transport
The Council supported the Commission's intention of launching a major public information campaign concerning passenger rights in the field of air transport. The Commission should submit a communication accompanied by proposals, if appropriate, so the June Council might discuss the application of passengers' existing rights and their extension.
The aim of this new initiative was to ensure greater protection for all citizens from shortcomings in commercial practice and service in the air transport industry. The Commission intends, after consulting the airlines and users' associations, to submit a "European Charter for the protection of air passengers", covering a wide range of areas including flight information and reservation, overbooking, compensation in the event of accidents, data protection and holiday charters. The aim was to facilitate public access to and knowledge of passenger rights.
Working hours in civil aviation sector
On 22 March 2000 the European social partners of the civil aviation sector have signed an agreement on working hours. This limits the annual working time to 2000 hours instead of 2304 hours set by the working time directive. Flying time is reduced to 900 hours, which is less than legislation in some Member States provides for. It also contains provisions concerning a minimum of 7 rest days per month and 96 per year. Under the provisions of the EU Social Chapter, the agreement could be put as a Commission proposal to the Council, if the social partners AEA, ERA, IACA, ETF and ECA agree.
As regards flight safety, despite regular reminders from MEPs, a proposal promised by the Commssiion on EU-wide limits on flight duty time and night flying, which are particularly important, are still awaited.
Opinion on air transport: creation of the single European sky
In April, the Committee on Regional Policy, Transport and Tourism held an exchange of ideas on the report of Sir Robert Atkins (PPE, UK). A large number of amendments had been tabled, many of which made reference to the need to take safety into account.
Sir Robert expressed his gratitude for the various amendments as it showed keen interest and involvement of the MEPs on this issue.
Mark Watts's amendments firstly stated that the risk of a collision is proportional to the square of the level of traffic and hence even modest growth in traffic can have a significant effect on levels of safety. The amendments called for:
He believed that Mark Watts' safety amendments might be grouped and it was agreed that they would work together to see how this might be achieved. Mark Watts thought it was important that the little influence the European Parliament had on this issue should be maximised.
Per Stenmark (PPE, S) commented that in the 90's there had been an enormous increase in air traffic and this was causing a dangerous situation. The delays and safety concerns of people needed to be addressed.
Dirk Sterckx (ELDR, B) noted the links between this report and his report on European airline industry: competitiveness, from single market to world wide challenges (see below).
Jan Marinus Wiersma (PSE, NL) also addressed safety concerns and added that in this context, passenger rights should also be addressed. Eurocontrol should not stop offering services to passengers.
Theodorus Bouwman (Greens/Ale, NL) believed that safety and delays should not be looked at from a market-related view.
Mr Van Hutten (European Commission) was happy with Mr. Atkins report since Parliament's support was necessary on this matter. He was disappointed, however, with the delay of the initial Commission High Level Group report on air traffic control. It should have been dealt with in the March rather than the June Council. He believed that subsidiarity was being used too much as an argument in air traffic control matters. A body with a co-ordinating role was lacking. It should not be totally centralised but be based on a compromise between Eurocontrol and the Member States.
Responding to the contributions on his draft, Sir Robert said he wanted to expand the safety element and would make it strong as possible after informal discussion with Mark Watts.
Eurocontrol needed to be reformed, because it could not cope anymore with today's pressures. A balance needed to be found between centralisation and subsidiarity and more harmonisation was necessary. There was a need to resolve problems around military airspace; and he believed that military matters should continue to be dealt with by Member States. Liberalisation rather than privatisation would be a better operative word.
As far as an increased role for the Commission is concerned he thought it would be better for the Commission to have a political but not bureaucratic control.
Finally the Council and Commission should be encouraged to speed up the process.
The draft report will be voted upon on 23 May.
European airline industry
In the Mini-Plenary in May, Parliament approved Mr Dirk Sterckx (ELDR, B) opinion on the Commission's Communication on European airline industry: competitiveness, from Single Market to world-wide challenges. The resolution welcomed the development of a single market in the industry while insisting that safety concerns must remain an underlying principle in all measures. It also calls for the establishment of a European Aviation Safety Authority.
The resolution emphasised the need for a single air transport safety regulatory authority. Among the amendments adopted, one called on the Commission to seek to devise plans for greater cooperation between Member States in managing and using their national airspace. Others covered issues concerned with promoting passenger rights.
Dirk Sterckx called also on the Commission to revise the present system of flight slots allocations and to present a proposal on flights and duty times for air crews and air-traffic control personnel. He also called for common training and licensing standards for flight and cabin crew members.
Erik Meijer (NGL/GUE, NL) considered that the debate had revealed two different concepts, between those wanting more liberalisation and those placing emphasis on environment, safety and the quality of employment.
In the final conclusion Transport Commissioner Loyola de Palacio said: "Let's not forget that safety is the foremost important factor for us for all modes of transport."
Please note re' Safety Monitor 30:
SAFETY OF RAILWAYS
COUNCIL OF MINISTERS
Interoperability of the conventional rail system
The Council took note of progress with the proposal for a Directive on the interoperability of the conventional Trans-European rail system. It asked the Permanent Representatives Committee to continue work so that the Council might make progress on the Directive at its meeting in June.
Following the political agreement reached at the December Council, a common position was reached on three Directives amending Directives 91/440/EEC and 95/18/EC and establishing the allocation of railway infrastructure capacity and the levying of charges for the use of railway infrastructure and safety certification (see Safety Monitor 29 and 30).
Rail transport statistics
New legislation on rail transport statistics is expected shortly following a proposal from Eurostat. New harmonised definitions of variables important for monitoring railway safety and to allow international comparisons are expected.
ETSC New Members
ETSC welcomes two new organisations onto its Main Council: the European Motoring Club of Spain (CEA) and the Belgian Institute for Road Safety (IBSR/BIVV).
INTERNATIONAL EVENTS DIARY
28-31 May 2000
1st June 2000
6-7 June 2000
7–9 June 2000
14–16 June 2000
18–21 June 2000
4-7 Sept. 2000
6-8 Sept. 2000
12 Sept. 2000
20-22 Sept. 2000
20-22 Sept. 2000
24-26 Oct. 2000
30 Sept.-3 Oct. 2001
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