New European Commissioner for Transport
The new Commissioner for Transport, Mr Jacques Barrot (France) is replacing Ms Loyola de Palacio.
Hearings of new commissioners by European MEP’s took place on September 29th in order to receive Parliament approval, initially expected on October 27th but postponed to November 18th. Mr Barrot exposed his priorities for the next five years:
Take strong and credible measures on sustainable development : the aim is to reflect the resulting social cost of transport, through a framework allowing a smart charging for the use of infrastructure.
Reinforce the rights of passengers, in order to consider them more customers rather than captive users. This priority can be considered for to all modes of transport. Regarding air transport, for instance the aim is to let passengers know in advance which company they fly.
For rail transport, this objective is part of the "third railway package", proposed recently by the Commission and which has now to be considered by the Parliament and the Council.
The framework would apply to international rail passengers, establishing minimum standards for information before and during their journey, determining the rules to be followed in case of delay, treatment of complaints and assistance for individuals with reduced mobility.
Develop a global approach on transport safety and security. Progress made on maritime and air transport will be extended to other forms of transport.
For rail transport, it is also a proposal included in the third rail package, defining the skills and responsabilities in terms of training, assessment and recognition of qualifications of locomotive drivers and train crew responsible for safety aspects.
Build a pan-European infrastructure network : 30 projects concerning high speed or standard railways axis, rail freight axis, motorways axis, inland waterways and motorways of the sea, have been identified in 2004, representing an investment cost of €225bn.
EU Commission proposed a €20bn funding in the financial perspectives 2007-2013. Mr Barrot pointed out that Promotion of Public Private Partnership was an interesting way to succeed in funding these projects.
Develop the external component of transport policy : according to Mr Barrot, the European Union must become a full member of various international organisations, among which the International Maritime Organisation and the International Civil Aviation Organisation. Relations with non-EU countries have also to be reinforced, especially in the field of air transport.