Vice-President Siim Kallas website

European Commission Mobility and Transport website

Commission refers Malta to the Court of Justice over airport groundhandling services at Malta-Luqa airport

The European Commission has decided to refer Malta to the European Court of Justice for incorrect application of the rules on airport groundhandling. The Commission is concerned that incorrect application of the rules results in a lack of effective competition for the supply of fuel at the airport of Luqa-Malta, possibly leading to additional costs to airlines and, ultimately, passengers. Following the reasoned opinion sent on 24 June 2010 (IP/10/813), the Commission considers that Malta has not yet complied with its legal obligations and has decided to take Malta to the Court of Justice.

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Commission requests Poland to apply security standards at airports

The European Commission has requested Poland to fully apply European Union legislation on aviation security. The Commission is concerned that Poland is not applying the common standards of security at certain airports, and has not put in place any alternative security methods. This request takes the form of a reasoned opinion under EU infringement procedures. If the Polish authorities fail to inform the Commission within two months of measures taken to ensure compliance with EU law, the Commission could refer the case to the EU Court of Justice.

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Commission launches infringement procedures against six Member States over agreements with Russia on equal treatment of EU airlines and Siberian overflights

The European Commission has launched infringement procedures against Cyprus, Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain over their bilateral air service agreements with Russia, sending each of these Member States a formal request for information known as a 'letter of formal notice'. The Commission is concerned that the agreements may hinder competition between European airlines and provide the basis for Siberian overflight charges that may be illegal under EU anti-trust rules. Similar letters of formal notice were already sent in October 2010 to Austria, Finland, France and Germany (see IP/10/1425), and in January 2011 to Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Sweden and the UK (see IP/11/74). The Commission is now assessing the compliance with EU law of the remaining Member States' bilateral aviation agreements with Russia. The fact that European Union airlines have to pay to fly over Siberia on their way to Asian destinations can not only make the flights more expensive, but can also lead to unfair competition between EU and non-EU airlines.

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Infringements concerning bilateral aviation agreements with Russia

The European Commission has launched infringement procedures against several Member States (see IP/10/1425, IP/11/74, IP/11/186) and is actively assessing the compliance with EU law of the remaining Member States' bilateral aviation agreements with Russia. The Commission is concerned that these agreements may hinder competition, breach EU rules on freedom of establishment, and provide a basis for Siberian overflight charges which may be illegal. This memo provides further background information on bilateral air service agreements and the infringement cases.

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Background

Commission welcomes European Parliament approval for bus and coach passenger rights

The European Commission welcomes the European Parliament voting in favour of a regulation on rights of passengers travelling by bus and coach after difficult negotiations. After air, rail and water, now transport by road will also be covered by a specific set of rights for passengers, thus completing the legal framework for users of all transport modes at EU level. Bus and coach passengers, and in particular passengers with a disability and people with a reduced mobility, will enjoy new rights that will protect them when they travel anywhere within the European Union.

Siim Kallas, Commission Vice-President in charge of transport, said: "Thanks to this new regulation, passenger rights will be extended also to bus and coach transport. Passengers travelling by road will benefit from the same basic service quality standards wherever and however they travel in the Union. With the adoption of a regulation on rights for bus and coach passengers EU passenger protection will now cover all modes. I am very satisfied that the EU has established the first integrated area of passenger rights for all modes of transport in the world."

The adoption of the regulation on bus and coach passenger rights follows shortly after the adoption of regulation 1177/2010 on passenger rights for maritime and inland waterways transport which will enter into force in December 2012.

Now that the coverage of all transport modes by EU passenger rights legislation has been achieved, the Commission will prepare a communication reviewing the features of passenger protection in all transport sectors in view of enhancing their consistency and effectiveness in the context of an ever-increasing intermodal transport.

The new rights applicable to long distance services (i.e. of more than 250 km) include amongst others:

  • protection of passengers in case of death, injury, loss or damage caused by road accidents (national law cannot set a maximum amount lower than €220,000 per passenger and €1,200 per item of luggage),
  • protection of passengers with regard to immediate practical needs in case of an accident (with the possibility to offer up to two nights' hotel accommodation, for a total amount of €80 per night),
  • specific assistance free of charge for disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility both at terminals and on board, and, where necessary, transport free of charge for accompanying people,
  • guarantee of reimbursement or rerouting in situations of overbooking or in case of cancellation or following a delay of more than 120 minutes from the estimated time of departure,
  • adequate assistance (snacks, meals and refreshments) in situations of cancellation or following a delay of more than 90 minutes in the case of a journey of more than three hours,
  • more particularly, obligation in those cases, for carriers, if necessary, to provide two nights' hotel accommodation to stranded passengers, for a maximum amount of €80 per night, except in case of severe weather conditions and major natural disasters,
  • compensation of 50% of the ticket price following more than 120 minutes' delay from the estimated time of departure, cancellation of a journey and if the carrier fails to offer the passenger either rerouting or reimbursement.

Additionally, the following rights will be applicable to all services (beyond or below 250 km):

  • non-discrimination against passengers based - directly or indirectly - on nationality,
  • non-discriminatory treatment of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility as well financial compensation for loss or damage of their mobility equipment in case of accident,
  • minimum rules on travel information for all passengers before and during their journey as well as general information about their rights in terminals and online,
  • a complaint handling mechanisms by carriers available to all passengers,
  • independent national bodies in each Member State with the mandate to enforce the Regulation and where appropriate to take penalties.

Next steps

After the vote in the European Parliament and Council's endorsement on 31 January 2011, the regulation was formally adopted on Wednesday, 16 February. Its publication is expected before summer. The Regulation is due to enter into application two years after its publication.

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