HL Deb 31 March 1999 vol 599 cc51-2WA
Lord Davies of Coity

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What was the outcome of the Transport Council held in Brussels on 29 March. [HL1873]

Lord Whitty

The Transport Council met in Brussels on 29 March. My right honourable friend the Minister for Transport represented the United Kingdom.

The Council held policy debates on a number of legislative proposals. Council Conclusions were agreed unanimously on two other issues.

Two of the items on the Council agenda for policy debate—proposals for a regulatory framework for the Community's railways, and a proposed package of measures designed to promote combined transport—had already been considered at previous meetings, while two—a draft directive to regulate working time in the road transport sector, and a Commission proposal to amend the transport Trans-European Network guidelines to include ports and inter-modal terminals—had not been discussed in detail by the Council before. In each of these debates, once member states had given their views the Presidency invited the Committee of Permanent Representatives to undertake further work, with the aim of enabling decisions to be taken at the June Council.

Council Conclusions were agreed on the position to be taken by member states at the forthcoming Diplomatic Conference to modernise the Warsaw Convention on air carrier liability. The Council also agreed conclusions explaining its decision to delay adoption of the regulation restricting the use of aircraft modified ("hushkitted") or re-engined to meet current noise standards. The Council agreed that the regulation should be adopted by the end of April, to allow time for discussions with affected third countries.

The Commission gave a presentation of its recent communication proposing a new European satellite navigation and positioning system, which it has named "Galileo". Delegations identified a number of questions for further consideration at an informal meeting of EU Transport Ministers in April.

Under other business, the Commission reported on two legislative proposals on which it was working. One would amend the second directive on driving licences, to allow certain professional drivers who met the previous, but not the latest eyesight standards, to renew their licences. The other consisted of a replacement for the draft directive on airport safety checks, on which the Council had reached a common position but which could not be adopted because of objections by Spain over its application to Gibraltar Airport. These proposals could not however be put forward formally until the new Commission was appointed.