Transport achievements during the UK Presidency

During the Presidency, the UK's Secretary of State for Transport, Alistair Darling, chaired two meetings of the Transport Council - on 6th October and 5th December 2006. The UK also had responsibility for representing the Council of Ministers in its negotiations with the European Parliament and the European Commission. The Council's working group was chaired by UK officials.

The UK Presidency took forward an active agenda of transport measures inherited from the Luxembourg Presidency. Work was also started at EU level on new measures across all modes of transport.

Following an agreement at the October Transport Council, negotiations were able to restart between the EU and the US on an "Open Sky" Aviation Agreement. Negotiations have made good progress towards a balanced deal and there is the prospect of agreement in the first half of 2006.

At the two Transport Councils, agreement was reached between Member States on:

* Rights for passengers with reduced mobility - providing enhanced rights for disabled air passengers and those with reduced mobility.
* International rail passenger rights - providing opportunities for new commercial international services, while protecting existing publicly subsidised services.
* International rail passenger service liberalisation - establishing rights for international rail passengers in order to improve the effectiveness of international rail passenger transport.
* Train Crew Licences - harmonising the licensing and certification of train drivers.
* Maritime Employment - encouraging social partners to take actions to promote quality shipping.

On behalf of the Council, the UK led negotiations with the European Parliament on:

* Rules for Lorry User Charging (Eurovignette) - agreement reached with the European Parliament on legislation revising the rules for lorry charging.
* Aviation safety - negotiations took place with the European Parliament on legislation that will see the publication of an EU wide list of unsafe airlines.
* Drivers' Hours and Drivers' Hours enforcement - agreement reached with the European Parliament on legislation that will set minimum conditions for the implementation and enforcement of social legislation relating to road transport.

The UK Presidency focussed on delivering "Better Regulation". The UK worked with the Commission to promote good quality impact assessments on new proposals for legislation. We also encouraged alternatives to regulation - the voluntary agreement on maritime employment being an example from the transport sector - and simplification

This year the Commission is conducting a review of its 2001 White Paper on European Transport Policy for 2010. As a contribution to that, the UK Presidency held a Ministerial debate in September by means of an electronic consultation.