Recast of railway package: Compromise within reach
By Isabelle Smets | Wednesday 13 June 2012
As this issue went to press, the European Parliament and the Council were still negotiating to reach an agreement on the recast of EU rail legislation. Three-way talks on this recast started at 14:30 on 13 June. The protagonists had kept their agenda free for it until 20:00. A compromise may be announced in the meantime, although some have mentioned the possibilty of a final negotiation next week.
Europoliticswill provide details on the talks in a forthcoming issue.
This is an important text, which deals with the organisation of European railways and their financing. The text specifies the role and relations between the main actors of this sector – the states, railway companies, infrastructure operators and regulators – to ensure that this fundamental triangle is organised in a way that ensures effective competition on the member states’ networks. The text also provides new guarantees in terms of non-discriminatory access to a series of services and infrastructures, such as merchandise terminals, railway yards or sidings.
At the end of the afternoon, the three-way talks still had to settle issues relating mainly to timing and deadlines. For instance, the time period in which the regulator will have to deal with potential complaints from transporters who feel that they have been adversely affected by the decisions of infrastructure operators, or the deadlines to put in place a European network of national regulators.
The EP’s Committee on Transport (TRAN) adopted its second-reading report on this dossier on 31 May. This report already contains a series of provisions on which a compromise with the Council had been reached during previous three-way meetings. For example, the two institutions agreed on the idea of multiannual contracts lasting five years minimum between the member states and the infrastructure managers in order to facilitate the planning of investments in rail. They also agreed to allow the modulation of infrastructure charges in order to incentivise operators to use less noisy trains.
The global compromise expected with the Council will be submitted to the EP’s July plenary session.