The Council reached a political agreement on the revised proposal for a regulation on public service obligations for passenger transport services by rail and by road, published by EU Commission on 20 July 2005.
The text as agreed will be adopted as a common position at a forthcoming Council session under Finnish Presidency and sent to the European Parliament with a view of the second reading next Autumn.
The public service obligations proposal aims at establishing a new legislative framework for the increasingly open and competitive European market for public passenger transport services (see EMTA News n°22, Analysis). The political agreement contains arrangements for those interventions of competent authorities that most likely affect competition and trade between Member States: compensating costs and granting exclusive rights in return for the discharge of public service obligations.
The Council reached the political agreement after a final compromise proposal of the Presidency consisting of the following elements:
- competent authorities may decide to directly award contracts for all heavy rail, including (sub urban rail but excluding metro and tramways.
- authorities can choose to grant direct awards to small and medium sized enterprises under a threshold, of either an average annual value
- measures obliging authorities to give information and a motivation for their decisions to directly award contracts
- a contract length in case of directly awarded contracts for rail of 10 years
- the possibility for competent authorities to refuse operators under certain conditions from participating in the tenders they organise
- a date of entry intro force of 3 years after the publication in the Official Journal of the EU and a transition period of 12 years, allowing the public passenger transport sector in total 15 years to adapt to the new regime.
EMTA members agree with the principle of adopting a common framework with a minimum content, provided that it secures the funding of local public transport and therefore welcome favourably this very expected political agreement.
EMTA members approve the modifications of the text adopted by the Council compared to the initial version of the Commission: The new text takes better in account remarks made by most of public transport actors regarding the restrictive definition of internal operators, their strict geographical containment or the maximum duration for contracts including construction of infrastructures. EMTA position on the Commission’s proposal is available on EMTA website, section publications.