The European Commission today took the first step towards cutting greenhouse gas emissions from the shipping industry. It proposed legislation which will require owners of large ships using EU ports to monitor and report the ships' annual carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The Commission also published a Communication setting out its strategy to address and reduce these emissions, preferably through measures at global level.
For the first time, millions of holiday-makers travelling in the EU this summer will be protected by comprehensive passenger rights – whether travelling by air or rail, and now also by ship, bus and coach. But research shows that two-thirds of passengers are not aware of their rights. For this reason, the Commission is launching a new campaign to inform the many people gearing up to travel this summer about their passenger rights, and how to claim them if needed.
From 25 to 28 June, launch events will take place in Brussels, Athens-Piraeus and Sofia and an air passenger rights information day will be held in Warsaw.
The European Commission has sent a formal request to France and the United Kingdom to comply with EU rules against excessive track access charges for passenger and freight trains in the Channel Tunnel. The Commission has also asked them to ensure a fully independent regulator and to end an agreement which currently reserves capacity for certain train operators in a restrictive way. The high track access charges get passed on to passengers in their ticket prices and rail freight companies complain that they cannot afford to send more freight through the Tunnel – it remains on the roads causing congestion and pollution.
The Commission is concerned that Germany is failing to implement European rules on the separation of accounts between infrastructure managers and railway undertakings, and on the use of track access charges. This procedure is part of a series of similar procedures against a number of Member States on account separation. The German system creates the possibility for cross-subsidising commercial transport activities from state funds for infrastructure and public-service passenger transport.
To help mitigate the consequences of serious road accidents across the EU, today the European Commission adopted two proposals to ensure that, by October 2015, cars will automatically call emergency services in case of a serious crash. The "eCall" system automatically dials 112 - Europe's single emergency number - in the event of a serious accident. It communicates the vehicle's location to emergency services, even if the driver is unconscious or unable to make a phone call. It is estimated that it could save up to 2500 lives a year (MEMO/13/547).
The European Commission has today acted to speed up the reform of Europe's air traffic control system. The Commission is looking to head off a capacity crunch as the number of flights is forecast to increase by 50% over the next 10-20 years. Inefficiencies in Europe's fragmented airspace bring extra costs of close to 5 billion Euros each year to airlines and their customers. They add 42 kilometres to the distance of an average flight forcing aircraft to burn more fuel, generate more emissions, pay more in costly user charges and suffer greater delays. The United States controls the same amount of airspace, with more traffic, at almost half the cost.
With the decision adopted today by the Council, the European Union ratified the Transport Protocol of the Alpine Convention, which consequently enters into force in the EU and becomes European law. This decision is part of the EU 'greening transport' approach and confirms that the Alpine region is an important issue in the European transports policy.