Press Notice
Thursday 27 January 2000

EU Transport Commissioner backtracks on road safety by saying no to Directive on blood alcohol limits

The EU Transport Commissioner, Loyola de Palacio today told the European Parliament’s Regional Policy, Transport and Tourism Committee that setting blood alcohol limits for road safety were a matter for Member States. A Commission proposal has been on the table since 1988 and Parliament recently invited the Commission to update it.

Expressing the astonishment and concern of transport safety organisations and experts across Europe, Jeanne Breen Executive Director of ETSC said today:

"If the rest of the Commission agree, this would be a major backtrack on road safety and a lost opportunity to save 1000 lives annually. It would be against the wish of the Portuguese Presidency which was expressed so clearly yesterday and a severe blow to their desire to demonstrate that political will exists at EU level for road safety. It would run contrary to successive road safety opinions of the European Parliament.

The Commissioner cites subsidiarity as a reason for not wanting to proceed, but we already have similar Directives on other key areas such as seat belt use. This is a clear case where EU action can add value to the efforts of Member States."