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The future of the Connecting Europe Facility is reaching a critical phase as, in the next few weeks, Member States are expected to decide the EU’s budget for 2014-2020. To support European growth and competitiveness, a number of business leaders have signed a declaration calling on senior EU policymakers to support and approve the Connecting Europe Facility.

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Towards faster deployment of Intelligent Transport Systems in Europe

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Progress in implementing intelligent transport systems was discussed on 22 October in Vienna, at the annual ITS conference organised by the European Commission, and officially opened by Vice-President Siim Kallas. The event looked at how ICT technology can help to solve many problems affecting transport, focusing on what measures could lift existing barriers. The Commission explained the main elements of the first ITS specifications adopted under the ITS directive. These specifications concern: eCall, traffic information relating to road safety, and information services for safe and secure parking for trucks and commercial vehicles. The event also welcomed the winners of the first Smart Mobility Challenge and discussed legal barriers to the deployment of intelligent transport systems. This 3rd ITS conference brought together three hundred high-level representatives from institutional stakeholders, industry, public and private transport operators and service providers, as well as local governments and other key ITS experts in the European Union and beyond. The European Commission explained the main elements of the first ITS specifications to be adopted under the ITS directive.

[Speech]

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Background

Air transport: Commission adopts new rules for safe commercial flights

EU citizens will have safer flights following the publication on 25 October of a new regulation with modernised binding rules for commercial operations of airplanes and helicopters. The previous regulation on commercial air operations was adopted in 2006. These updated rules reflect scientific and technological developments in the aviation industry and changes in international aviation standards since then. The aim of the regulation is to boost efficiency in air operations while maintaining a high level of safety. To achieve this, the new rules provide for a simple, risk-based process of certification and oversight; they reflect scientific and technological state of the art in the field of air operations, based on evidence worldwide; and they introduce proportionality with regard to the scale and complexity of operations – for example by distinguishing between different types of operations such as local or international flights. As a consequence of the new rules, airlines will not need to get re-certified every year and small businesses will be subject to lighter administrative procedures. The regulation also introduces the first EU-wide rules for helicopters to replace the various national ones existing today. This regulation enters into force three days following its publication. A two-year transitional period will allow for a flexible and smooth conversion to the new regime. See Regulation 965/2012.

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Parliament supports Commission's agenda for better protection of passengers

The European Parliament adopted on 23 October a report by MEP Georges Bach calling for more EU action to strengthen passenger rights. The report stresses the need to make passenger rights easily understandable to all citizens, to facilitate their implementation and enforcement, and to ensure a similar approach for all modes of transport. The work of the European Parliament in the area of passenger rights, including the report it adopted on air passenger rights on 29 March 2012, gives support to the Commission’s ambitious agenda to promote better protection for passengers facing travel disruptions whether they travel by air, rail, waterborne or road transport. Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, said: "Today's vote is extremely important for all EU citizens, as it promotes the most appropriate protection when travelling, regardless of which mode of transport is chosen. The Commission will keep working to make sure that EU legislation on passenger rights is properly and effectively applied".

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Parliament asks to push ahead with Single European Sky

The European Parliament adopted on 23 October a resolution to push forward implementation of the Single European Sky (SES), very much in line with the European Commission priorities. The Commission welcomes the support of the EP, especially at the time of key implementing deadlines and shares the views of rapporteur Jacqueline Foster that Member States should now prioritise the implementation of SES in accordance with the agreed deadlines and objectives. The EP reiterates the key role of SES in delivering considerable economic, safety and environmental savings to the aviation sector's benefit. It calls for a proactive political support on the part of the Member State applying the performance scheme, delivering real benefits from FABs and deploying SESAR technologies. The SES legislation, which aims at reducing the fragmentation of the European airspace and increasing its capacity, entered into force in April 2004 (SES I); it was amended by a second package of legislation adopted in November 2009 (SES II). A report issued by the Commission in November 2011 makes clear that the basic SES II architecture has been established according to the initial time schedule but that the objectives have not yet been fully reached. Failure to implement the SES costs € 5 billion annually in inefficiencies for air navigation services.

[Single European Sky, 10 years on and still not delivering]

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Maritime transport: seafarers' training to match international standards

The European Parliament approved on 23 October the legislative proposal which will bring the European Union Directive on the training of seafarers in line with recently updated international rules. The legislative proposal also aims to ensure that information concerning seafarers is collected, aggregated and made available for statistical purposes. Today, accurate figures in this respect are lacking. The Commission adopted its proposal on 14 September 2011 and a political agreement in Council was already reached in December last year. International rules set minimum standards, while EU rules ensure their enforcement in the EU. European and international legislation are important to ensure quality jobs and safety at sea. Siim Kallas, European Commission Vice-President responsible for transport, said: "I am glad the European Parliament swiftly responded to the need to adapt to the new international framework. These new rules reflect the evolution of technology and the challenges of the last decade" The amended EU provisions fully respect the EU set of rules on working time for seafarers. The proposal also sets out the legal framework for a database on seafarers employed on EU ships, which will allow for more accurate data in this respect. 

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