Vice-President Siim Kallas website

European Commission Mobility and Transport website

European Coordinator Pat Cox very positive on the Brenner Corridor

Brenner Corridor

Pat Cox, the European Coordinator responsible for Priority Project No 1 Berlin-Palermo, visited Innsbruck and attended the Brenner Congress in Bolzano to discuss progress on the Brenner Corridor project. On both opportunities, Mr Cox thanked the Austrian and Italian authorities involved for their continuous commitment. He welcomed the decision to launch the works on the Brenner Base Tunnel as a crucial step towards realising the goal of a modal shift from road to rail which is of major importance for the alpine region. Until 2016, Austria will invest approximately €1,3 billion in the tunnel infrastructure. Italy too authorised the launch of the works phase with a financial committment that guarantees coverage of the costs over the entire construction period. The EU foresees investing close to €1 billion in the Brenner Corridor by the end of 2013. This is by far the EU's highest TEN-T contribution among all 30 EU Priority Projects.

[More on Priority Project 1- Works]

[More on Priority Project 1- Studies]

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Commission unveils the Eltis web portal on urban mobility

Eltis portal

The European Commission unveiled the Eltis web portal, which features a brand-new look and is now available in eleven languages. The website - - is aimed at European professionals working in the field of urban transport, environment, energy and health. The new web portal acts as an urban mobility observatory by facilitating the exchange of information and good practice in the field of urban mobility in Europe.


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The Commission orders eight Member States to implement the Directive aimed at ensuring better occupational mobility for train drivers

The European Commission has formally requested eight Member States to transpose the Directive on the certification of train drivers into national law. With Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden yet to bring their national legislation into line with this Directive, the occupational mobility of train drivers will not be ensured within the agreed time period. The Commission has set a two‑month deadline for these Member States to remedy the situation before it involves the Court of Justice of the European Union.

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Commission asks Austria, Estonia, Germany and the UK to transpose EU rules on rail safety indicators

The European Commission has asked Austria, Estonia, Germany, and the United Kingdom to notify their national implementing measures regarding Common Safety Indicators for railways. These four Member States are the only ones not to have notified the Commission on their national legislation complying with a directive on Common Safety Indicators for railway safety and common methods to calculate accident costs. The directive will make it possible to compare railway safety performances across the EU and to spend public money more efficiently to increase safety. This could significantly help to protect rail passengers better in the future. The Commission's request takes the form of a reasoned opinion under EU infringement procedures. If these countries fail to inform the Commission within two months of measures taken to ensure full compliance with the directive, the Commission could refer the case to the Court of Justice.

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Commission requests Cyprus to adopt a national civil aviation security programme

The European Commission requested Cyprus to adopt the updated version of their national civil aviation security programme which has remained unchanged since 2004 despite new changes introduced by European Union legislation. The Commission is concerned that Cyprus has not yet adopted an up-to-date national civil aviation security programme that adequately defines the measures required by airports, airlines and other entities involved in aviation security. Cyprus has also failed to adopt an up-to-date national quality control programme. Cyprus can therefore not guarantee that all airports, airlines and entities are aware of their respective responsibilities in terms of security nor ensure that effective national monitoring activities are carried out. If the Cypriot authorities fail to comply with EU law within the next two months, the Commission could bring the case to the EU Court of Justice.

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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, IP/11/298) 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.

Bilateral agreements

The legal framework for air transport between countries is traditionally defined through bilateral air service agreements (known as ASAs) between the respective governments. Within Europe, the situation changed significantly in the early 1990s when a single European aviation market was created. The so called "Open Skies" Court rulings of 2002 (see IP/02/1609) were a further crucial milestone. The Court stated that provisions limiting the benefits of ASAs to nationals of the Member States concerned are in breach of the Treaty's provisions on freedom of establishment. Hence, ASAs between Member States and third countries must now include an "EU designation" clause. With the exception of a very small number of third countries, ASAs between Member States and third countries have been adapted either bilaterally (between a single Member State and a third country), or through "horizontal agreements" (between the EU and a third country). But Russia is still one of the few third countries in the world that does not accept this fundamental change.

Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, said: "The construction of a true single sky has entered a crucial phase. We must put in place the concrete mechanisms that will allow the SES package to be implemented in time. We must maintain the level of ambition that was set for us by the European institutions in establishing a long-term sustainable framework for air traffic management. This will not only give a boost to the industry; it will also make flights cheaper and reduce their impact on the environment. Our shared commitment to work quickly and constructively will determine the ultimate success of the Single European Sky."

Siberian overflights

In addition to the problem of EU designation (freedom of establishment), EU airlines are obliged to pay Siberian overflight charges for routes to many Asian destinations. This may be in breach of international law1 and incompatible with EU competition law. The Siberian overflights issue was negotiated between the European Commission and the Russian government in 2006. In November 2006, an agreement to phase out Siberian overflight duties was signed by the Commission, the Council Presidency and the Russian Transport Minister Igor Levitin. Russia has, however, never implemented it as it has linked its implementation with the need to first be allowed to become a fully fledged WTO partner. Since then, Member States efforts to address the issue with Russia bilaterally have failed.

With respect to Siberian overflight charges, EU carriers are de facto forced into agreements with their competitor, Aeroflot. In 2008 alone, EU carriers paid around USD 420 million – most of it directly to Aeroflot.

Finally the incorporation of all phases of flights, from airport to airport, in a global approach to air traffic management (the "gate-to-gate" approach), the centralisation of operational functions managed at European level and the deployment of new technologies will also bring major added value to SES.

EU designation

The absence of an "EU designation" creates serious practical problems. For example, after the takeover of Austrian Airlines by Lufthansa, Russia started to argue that flights operated by Austrian Airlines to Russia would no longer be covered by the ASA between Austria and Russia because the airline was no longer owned by Austrian interests. To the extent that "traffic rights" for flying over Russian territory are so far only granted for short time periods, this creates uncertainty as to whether Austrian Airlines – not being recognised as an "EU carrier" – might continue to have the right to fly over Russian territory. And there are other similar cases (see below).

Effects on Member States

Some examples relating to the countries against which infringement proceedings have been launched are listed below. The issues at stake are particularly important for Spain, Belgium, The Netherlands and the UK which are immediately affected by problems caused by both the lack of an "EU designation clause" and the Siberian overflight charges.

  • Spain: Spain is particularly affected as regards "EU designation", following the merger of Iberia with British Airways (in a similar way as Austrian Airlines, see above).
  • Portugal and Ireland: The bilateral air services agreements are in breach of EU law as regards EU designation and Siberian overflight charges.
  • Cyprus, Slovakia, Poland: The bilateral air services agreements are in breach of EU law as regards "EU designation".
  • Belgium: On the "EU designation" issue, Brussels Airlines is affected following its takeover by Lufthansa (in a similar way as Austrian Airlines). In relation to Siberian overflight charges, all Belgian carriers flying to Asia (such as Brussels Airlines) are affected and have to pay the charge.
  • Netherlands: Both issues also affect the Netherlands. On the "EU designation" issue, KLM is affected after the merger with Air France. On Siberian overflight charges, all Dutch carriers flying to Asia (such as KLM) are affected and have to pay.
  • UK: Both issues affect the UK. In the case of the "EU designation" clauses for example, British Midlands is affected after the take-over by Lufthansa (in the same way as Austrian Airlines). All UK carriers flying to Asia are also affected by Siberian overflight charges and have to pay (including for example British Airways and Virgin).
  • Italy: The main issue for Italy, currently, is the Siberian overflight charges. Italian carriers (such as Alitalia) flying to Asia are affected and have to pay.
  • Luxembourg: Luxembourg is also affected by Siberian overflight charges, all carriers flying to Asia (such as Cargolux) are affected and have to pay.
  • Sweden/Denmark: The main issue for Sweden and Denmark at the moment is the Siberian overflight charges. All Scandinavian carriers flying to Asia (such as SAS) are affected and have to pay.
  • Estonia, Greece, Lithuania: The main issue is "EU designation" and the problem with freedom of establishment. Air carriers from these countries for the moment do not operate flights to destinations in the Far East. Nevertheless, the respective air service agreements contain provisions that risk having a negative impact on competition.
  • Hungary: The main issues are "EU designation" and Siberian overflight charges. Hungarian Malev has had to pay such charges to fly to Beijing.
  • Malta, Slovenia: The main issue is "EU designation" and the problem with freedom of establishment.

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