Progress in cutting road fatalities significantly slowed last year (to -2%) compared with a very promising EU-wide reduction throughout the last decade (on average -6%), according to new figures published today by the European Commission. Worse still, some EU Member States, like Germany and Sweden, who have very strong safety records, now show a significant increase in deaths. In other Member States, like Poland and Belgium – already lagging behind in road safety – the number of deaths went up. The problem of motorcycles – where fatalities have still not fallen after more than a decade – still persists.
The European Commission is organising today and tomorrow an event concerning piracy and armed robbery. These acts are a serious threat not only to the lives of seafarers but to maritime transport as a whole. It is essential that all those concerned continue to act decisively and that the necessary measures are implemented systematically to prevent seamen from falling victim to such attacks and to protect the economy of the marine transport sector.
"In a letter sent last month, I have been asked by an industry organisation, the International Road Transport Union whether the cross-border use of longer trucks is forbidden by the current Directive. This is a complex issue.
The wording of certain articles is confusing. It is clear that the Directive allows Member States to go beyond the maximum dimensions, and to allow longer trucks on their territories, in particular vehicles using the modular concept. But the wording of the Directive is less straightforward when it comes to the cross-border use of such vehicles between consenting Member States, and to the conditions attached. Let us be frank: previous attempts of the Commission to provide explanations have failed to bring the legal and complete clarity needed. It seems to me that forbidding vehicles using the modular concept to cross borders between consenting Member States contributes no environmental benefit (strictly, a modular truck could be driven to one side of the border, un-coupled and taken across the border in two parts, and then re-coupled to continue the journey), but simply adds inconvenience by creating artificial obstacles at borders.. Thus, in the light of the IRU letter, I decided to carry out a more detailed analysis together with the Commission services to clarify the legal position.
Their conclusion is that the directive does not prohibit the cross-border use of longer trucks provided a number of conditions are respected.
The response I therefore intend to give to the IRU is that not only can Member States allow the use of longer vehicles for national transport, they can also allow the cross-border use of such longer vehicles, but only on a number of conditions. The first is that both Member States concerned must already permit the use of these vehicles within their borders. No Member State will have to accept longer trucks on its territory if it does not wish to."
Transport ministers today reached agreement on proposals to transform the existing patchwork of roads, railways, airports and canals into a unified European transport network. The proposed Regulation for Guidelines for Trans-European Networks (TEN-T) will remove cross-border bottlenecks, upgrade infrastructure and streamline cross-border transport operations for passengers and businesses throughout the EU.
Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, said: "This is a very significant step forwards. Transport is the lifeblood of the European economy. And if it does not flow smoothly, our economy will weaken and fail to grow. Ministers have today given strong political backing for plans to build the strategic transport connections necessary to fuel Europe's future economic growth."
Siim Kallas, European Commission Vice-President with responsibility for transport, today welcomed Member States support for the Commission's proposal on the revision of current EU rules on groundhandling services.
Vice-President Kallas said: "Airports are facing a capacity crunch and three out of four flight delays are caused by problems on the ground, not in the air. There is an urgent need to improve the quality and efficiency of groundhandling services. The agreement today strikes the right balance between giving airlines more choice of quality service providers while strengthening protection for workers in what is a very labour-intensive sector."
Dear State Secretary Wathelet,
it was with shock and great sadness that I learned about the terrible coach accident in Switzerland last night in which so many people died. The shock is even greater as most of the victims are children.
Our thoughts are with the victims and their families. On my behalf and on behalf of the European Commission, let me extend our sincerest condolences and expressions of deepest sympathies to the victims of this tragic accident and to their families.
With my heartfelt sympathy,
Siim Kallas, Vice-President of the European Commission, Commissioner for Transport
Vice-President Siim Kallas, Commissioner for mobility and transport, announced today the winners of the first Smart Mobility Challenge on European multi-modal journey planners. In the category of 'operational journey planners' the two winners are Idos and Trenitalia, and in the category of 'innovative ideas' the winners are Penelope Ventures GmbH and SNCF. The initiative aimed to promote the development of all-in-one journey planners, going beyond national borders and offering travel options combining different transport modes.