Commission adopts working paper on transport security
The Commission has adopted a staff working paper that brings forward ideas for developing transport security policy at EU level. In particular, it focuses attention on the deficit of EU policy relating to land transport security.
What are the current rules?
In the fields of aviation security and maritime security EU policy has developed rapidly following the events of 11 September 2001. In particular, the Commission has built upon the international standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) – the UN bodies primarily responsible for aviation and maritime law, respectively. This has resulted in the EU having high levels of aviation and maritime security that are applied coherently and seamlessly throughout the EU.
What is the problem?
The staff working paper acknowledges that security policy in the aviation and maritime sectors is developing satisfactorily, thanks to appropriate mechanisms ensuring that legislative requirements receive feedback to allow revision on a continuous basis. However, although public transport (tram, bus, metro), rail and high-speed rail transport are the most important modes of passenger transport (80,000 million passenger trips per year) and that road, rail and inland waterways transport huge quantities of freight both within and to/from the EU, there is today no coherent approach to land transport security in the EU. This needs to change. Compared with aviation and maritime transport, land has seen the greatest number of incidents and fatalities from terrorist incidents in the past decade. Meanwhile, the successful expansion of high-speed rail and rail freight is increasing the number of cross-border journeys. Furthermore, security issues such as cargo theft from road hauliers or metal theft from the rail sector are now large-scale problems across the EU.
What are we proposing?
The working paper firstly advocates that there should be an EU forum for land transport security that can mirror the existing fora in the aviation and maritime security, in particular in order to be able to address the cross-border challenges. Thus, it proposes the creation of an Advisory Group for Land Transport Security made of national policy experts from both transport and security/justice administrations. This would be complemented by a parallel stakeholder group to allow industry to have its voice heard in the policy development process. The two groups would then discuss with the Commission policy options for ensuring a balanced development of EU policy for land transport security. The paper contains several suggestions for possible policy that the groups would be invited to comment upon – many based on structures that already exist in the aviation and maritime sectors.
It should be noted that the Commission does not envisage prescriptive rules for security for the land transport sector. Land transport covers a wide range of transport operations and widely differing transport operators. The needs and threats faced by each may vary considerably and so a “one-size-fits-all” solution is not appropriate.
Rather, it would be desirable to consider a framework of general security for transport operators, such as security programmes, security awareness training and exercises, contingency and recovery planning. The detailed requirements would be left to transport operators to develop, in conjunction with the national or local legislators. In this way, each transport operator would have an appropriate level of security preparedness, proportionate to the risks faced by their operations.
This guidance is not based on any ECJ case-law and constitutes the Commission's reflections on existing queries related to the application of the vignette systems.
What are the benefits?
The working paper brings attention to the lack of EU-wide security requirements in the field of land transport security. The Commission believes that by developing a system built on the numerous existing and good practices amongst individual transport operators and regulators, the overall security of EU citizens can be improved at very little cost. Furthermore, having common requirements will enhance not only the security of cross-border traffic but also the competitiveness of transport operators, as the provision of security should not be an issue that distorts the smooth functioning of the single market.
As public spending on transport infrastructure keeps on falling, new sources of finance must be found. Road charging is an efficient and fair solution for this issue as it ensures financing for future transport investments.
The Communication does not create new legislative rules. The binding interpretation of EU law is ultimately the role of the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
What are the next steps?
The Commission will invite all interested parties – including the European Parliament and the EU Council – to comment on the staff working paper. A proposal for a Commission Decision to create the Advisory Committee for Land Transport Security and its associated stakeholder group will be brought forward. It is planned that the Committee will be operational by the second half of 2012 and that its work can lead to initiatives already in 2013.