Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2007-09-24-Speech-1-125"

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"Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, tonight we can all be satisfied with the overall result of the railways package. As rapporteur on the progress of Community legislation on the development of the railways I may not be particularly happy, but when we look at the results we have achieved in regard to passenger rights, in particular compensation payments for train delays and the Europe-wide certification of train drivers, we can on the whole be satisfied. We have managed after all to ensure that there will be a uniform European train driver’s licence, for there is no point in opening up the networks if trains have to stop at borders to change drivers. We want a European internal market. We want European freight trains – here the networks have already been opened up – and now also international passenger trains to be able to operate regardless of national borders, because we want efficient rail services. In that regard, the introduction of a European train driver’s licence is of key importance. Here we really can be satisfied with our legislation. I would point out, however, that it is a question not just of train drivers but of all those entrusted with safety in rail transport. As you know, just as a plane cannot take off if there are not enough stewardesses because they are responsible for passenger safety in the event of an emergency, similarly we need conductors and other individuals on trains. We are not talking about the chef in the restaurant car but about railway personnel such as conductors and others who are responsible for passenger safety. Here we and the rapporteur have jointly managed to persuade the Commission to undertake to submit a report, two and a half years after the directive enters into force, on the possibility of introducing uniform European certification of those employees too, to ensure that we do not have any safety deficit in this area of international rail services either. Train drivers and other personnel must be properly trained. We are glad that this train driver’s licence also represents a step towards train drivers’ mobility, for drivers who hold a European licence can also change their place of employment within the European Union as they please. We are being fair, however, which is why we jointly ensured that if a person who was trained in one railway undertaking voluntarily moves to another one, the training undertaking is entitled to compensation for the training costs. I may say, on behalf of Mrs Jeggle, that we are very pleased with the outcome. There was good cooperation and she asks the House to approve the package as a whole. I want to start by discussing my own report. The good news is that as of 1 January 2010 the national rail networks must be opened up for use by all railway undertakings providing international passenger services, without any discrimination, whether the undertakings are public or private. That will finally create a European single market in cross-border passenger transport and open the way to more offers by a wide variety of railway undertakings, to the benefit of the customers. We expect the railway undertakings actually to make use of these new opportunities and to make customer-friendly and competitive offers, in relation particularly to air travel costs. If that proves successful, we have a chance to revitalise cross-border rail transport. And this is where in a sense I am following on from the previous debate, for we will then also have an opportunity to reduce environmental pollution within the European Union. One unsatisfactory result of the conciliation procedure is that because of the strong resistance by the Council it did not prove possible also to open up the national railway networks for national railway services, which means that the European internal market for railway services remains incomplete. To be honest, however, the reason for that lies in the vote we ourselves held in this Parliament on 18 January this year. The majority of Members voted in favour of the opening up of networks for national rail services too, but we did not reach the required qualified majority of 393 votes on that Thursday. Nonetheless, in the conciliation procedure Parliament did manage to ensure that the new directive requires the European Commission to submit a report by 31 December 2012 in which it also proposes measures for further opening up the passenger rail market. For the record, I would ask Vice-President Barrot to repeat his commitment to submit a report by 31 December 2012 and also to take further steps to open up the rail market. Parliament and the Council also reached agreement that we should certainly restrict the opening up of networks for cross-border services if that jeopardised the economic equilibrium of public and regional passenger services. That must not, however, lead to some form of protectionism, to a railway trying to protect itself from competition; restriction is possible only if a national government authority confirms, on the basis of an objective economic analysis, that opening up would jeopardise regional passenger services. Unfortunately a further restriction slipped in during the procedure, which is that Member States may impose a levy for the benefit of public passenger and local services. Parliament did, in fact, succeed in limiting the levy so that revenue from it must not be greater than is really necessary for the performance of the public service. I honestly hope that – aside from one country, and even then I hope that will not be the case – Member States will in fact never make use of the possibility of restricting the opening up of the networks. At any rate, I hope Member States will implement this directive without delay and that we will be able to offer more international passenger services here in Europe and give our citizens a chance to use rail rather than air transport when crossing borders. I would now like to say a few words on behalf of my colleague Elisabeth Jeggle. Unfortunately, she is absent due to illness. First, Mrs Jeggle wanted to thank Mr Savary for the close cooperation between the shadow rapporteurs in relation to the third rail package and say that she is also very pleased with the results as regards the certification of train drivers."@en1

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