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Progress in cutting EU road deaths falls to 2% in 2011

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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.

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EU grants over €160 million to support key infrastructure projects

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The Commission announced the projects selected to receive over €160 million in EU co-financing from the trans-European transport network (TEN-T) programme to continue improving transport infrastructure across the EU. The 26 selected projects will use the EU's financial support to speed up the implementation of important priorities of the TEN-T Programme in order to contribute to delivering a safe, competitive and efficient transport infrastructure network.

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Seminar to strengthen the fight against piracy and armed robbery

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The Commission organised on 28 and 29 March 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.

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Commission proposes tighter laws on ship breaking

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The Commission proposed new rules to ensure that European ships are only recycled in facilities that are safe for workers and environmentally sound. More than 1000 large old commercial ships, such as tankers and container vessels, are recycled for their scrap metal every year, but many European ships end up in substandard facilities on the tidal beaches of South Asia. These facilities mostly lack the environmental protection and safety measures needed to manage the hazardous materials contained in end-of-life ships. These include asbestos, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), tributyl tin and oil sludge. This leads to high accident rates and health risks for workers and extensive environmental pollution.

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Commission proposes EU rules to enforce the social partners' agreement on the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC)

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The European Commission has adopted two proposals to bring the European Union legislation in line with the enforcements and compliance rules foreseen by the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC). The purpose of the proposals is to clarify the responsibilities of flag states and port states with regard to an effective application of the maritime labour standards on board ships, regardless of their flags, calling at ports in the EU. The proposal on the responsibilities of flag states aims at strengthening the role of the flag state regarding the social aspects by requiring appropriate checks and monitoring mechanisms to be established in Member States, as well as effective inspections to ensure that the Directive on the MLC (2009/13/EC) is fully enforced. The proposal on port state control amends the Directive 2009/16/EC by incorporating the requirements established by the MLC, namely the obligation for ships of 500 GT and above to carry a maritime labour certificate and a declaration of maritime labour compliance attesting compliance with the MLC.

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EU-Israel aviation agreement: Israel joins Europe in aviation

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Israel and the European Union have finalized negotiations on a comprehensive aviation agreement during a final round of negotiating in Tel Aviv on 22 March 2012. The agreement will gradually open up and integrate the respective markets, strengthen cooperation and offer new opportunities for industry, including airlines, and consumers. Following eight rounds of negotiations since December 2008, the two sides have agreed to develop a common aviation area between Israel and the EU based on common rules. It is expected that the agreement will offer more travel opportunities, more direct connections and economic benefits for both sides.

"The comprehensive aviation agreement reached in Tel Aviv today is very important for further strengthening the overall economic, trade and tourism relations between Israel and the EU. Israel is a key partner for the EU and the agreement will do much to develop the aviation links between the two partners and establish a high level of regulatory convergence", said Vice-President Siim Kallas, EU Commissioner for transport, welcoming the agreement.

Based on the experience of similar agreements signed with other EU neighbouring countries, the gradual opening of the market is expected to encourage a larger number of direct flights from Israel to more destinations in Europe at lower prices than today while also reducing flight prices to Israel for European travellers. Higher volumes of tourism in both directions are expected to create additional jobs and economic benefits on both sides. The gradual implementation of the agreement will give sufficient time for carriers on both sides to prepare for increased competition.

In parallel to gradually opening up the respective markets, the agreement also aims to integrate Israel into a wider Common Aviation Area with the EU. Israel will implement regulatory requirements and standards equivalent to EU aviation rules in areas such as aviation safety, environment, consumer protection, including passenger rights, air traffic management, economic regulation, competition issues and social aspects.

The agreement will replace bilateral air services agreements between EU Member States and Israel.

The agreement will be a further step in creating a wider Common Aviation Area between the EU and its neighbours. Similar comprehensive aviation agreements with neighbouring countries have already been negotiated with the Western Balkan countries, Morocco, Jordan, Georgia and Moldova and negotiations are ongoing with Ukraine and Lebanon and are planned to soon start with Azerbaijan and Tunisia.

In 2010 the overall EU-Israel air transport market was 6.75 million passengers, which represents an increase of 13.4% compared to 2009.

The EU is the most important aviation market for Israel, accounting for 57% of scheduled international air passenger movements to and from Israel. Similarly, Israel is one of the most important aviation markets for the EU in the Middle-East with a strong growth potential. Today, there are scheduled direct passenger flight connections between Israel and 16 EU Member States (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, The Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom).

Both sides will now start their respective internal procedures to allow the agreement to be signed and enter into force.

[More on international aviation relations of the EU]

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Background

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Study on Impacts of Application of the Vignette Systems to Private Vehicles

Seven EU Member States have private vehicle vignette systems. This study has analysed the shortcomings of existing vignette systems, undertaken an impact analysis of those shortcomings, developed a methodology for determining price reductions between vignette types, and analysed whether complementary measures can be incorporated into vignette systems to target environmental objectives.

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