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Background

Practical Information

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Maritime transport: Commission requests Italy to ensure that port dues are not discriminatory

The European Commission has decided to request Italy to amend its rules to ensure that port dues applied are no higher for ships sailing to or from non-Italian ports than for ships sailing to or from Italian ports. The Commission considers that current Italian rules are in breach of EU legislation liberalising maritime transport between EU Member States and between Member States and non-EU countries (Regulation 4055/86). The request takes the form of a reasoned opinion under EU infringement rules. If Italy fails to comply with the request within two months, the Commission may refer the case to the EU Court of Justice.  

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Road Transport: Common social standards between the EU and its neighbouring countries

The European Commission has decided to request Italy to implement a Directive on the control of driving times and rest periods (2009/4/EC). The Commission has also requested both Italy and Luxembourg to notify the Commission of measures taken to implement a Directive on the categorisation of infringements of road transport social legislation (2009/5/EC). Both Directives are important measures to ensure both road safety and a level playing field between road haulage operators. These requests take the form of reasoned opinions under EU infringement rules. If Italy and Luxembourg fail to comply with the requests within two months, the Commission may refer the cases to the EU Court of Justice. 

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Background

Air Transport: Commission acts to ensure fair access to ground handling market

 

The European Commission believes that reducing barriers for airport ground handling – a key function in the aviation chain – has the potential to unlock further benefits, such as improving the quality and reducing their cost. Ground handling covers all the activities related to aviation on the ground carried out for airlines, including check-in and transport of passengers, baggage handling, refuelling of the airplane, catering, preparation and arrival of the flight including cleaning, de-icing, positioning of the aircraft, freight and mail processing etc. In 1996, the Ground handling Directive (96/67/EC) established a partial liberalisation of this market with the view to decrease ground handling services prices and increase quality for passengers.

 Likely benefits of deepening the single Market for groundhandling

Directive 96/67/EC requires Member States to ensure that the market in ground handling services is open, so that any service provider can supply services at any European airport handling more than two million passengers or 50,000 tons of freight a year. Airlines can then benefit from the most competitive ground handling services, with knock-on benefits for passengers. Member States can choose to limit the number of providers — to a minimum of two — in four categories of services: baggage, ramp, freight and post, and fuel and oil. Reality shows, however, that parts of the market are still restricted, resulting in airlines and passengers possibly having to pay more than they should. In addition, stakeholders have raised concerns about the side effects of the Directive in terms of safety, security and employment.

Infringement proceeding

The European Commission considers that Bulgaria is maintaining a monopoly on the ground handling market at its main airport in Sofia and has therefore sent the Bulgarian authorities a request, on 30 September 2010, to ensure fair access for providers of ground handling. Within two months, Bulgaria is required to comply with the request, which takes the form of a reasoned opinion under EU infringement procedures, failing which the case may be referred to the EU's Court of Justice.

Future steps

The Commission is currently undertaking an impact assessment on the potential benefits of a revision of the Directive 96/67 with a view of modernising and clarifying the regulatory framework. Such a revision could be part of the "Airport package" which is scheduled for release in June 2011.

[More on infringement proceedings]

 

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