A summary of the consideration of the draft report is now available.
EP TRAN Committee – 10 July 2018
Common rules for access to the international market for coach and bus services
– Consideration of draft report
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Rapporteur Roberts Zīle (ECR, LV) made the following opening remarks:
- he stated that buses and coaches were one the most accessible modes of transport in the EU. They connected rural and urban areas, and were often the only means of transportation available in some areas;
- the essence of the report was simple: non-resident carriers seeking to enter a national market to offer inter-urban coach services should be able to do so without impediments. He described it as “good cabotage”;
- he stated that it was a difficult task, but he wanted a positive outcome;
- his text modified the distance thresholds in order to protect public service contracts. Amendment 26 added 4 additional rules;
- the second issue was the authorisation of suspension or withdrawal. He understood that economic equilibrium was still a topic with “some question marks”;
- he believed in the need for independent regulatory authorities. They existed in several sectors across the EU, and he mentioned public utilities as an example;
- his third amendment to the Commission proposal focused on the rights of access and urban areas;
- in his discussions with stakeholders, the abuse of the market had emerged as an important issue and it was addressed in amendments 3 and 28;
- he also mentioned access to terminals and the requirements of establishment;
- regarding liberalisation of the market, he stated that MS would be able to do it if they so wished. He also addressed the issue of appeals;
- he “fully understood” that it was a controversial draft report. However, in light of the difficulties in Mobility Package I, he stated that he did not want to see any postponement of the proposal as it was a part of Mobility Package II. It would be impossible to explain to the European citizens why MEPs “were still receiving salaries” but not working for the remainder of the legislative period;
- overall, he wanted to find a good compromise in the Committee.
Luis de Grandes Pascual (EPP, ES)
- regarding the postponement of the debate, he stated “we do not have to justify ourselves”. It was the Commission who should be criticised as it had presented the package so late;
- as the proposal was linked to other files in the Mobility Package, he believed that the request for postponement was reasonable;
- he thanked the Rapporteur for his “readiness for dialogue” was it was a very difficult subject;
- he described the draft report as “broad and eclectic”. This was due to the fact that MS wanted to preserve their public systems;
- he commended the work done by the Rapporteur, but his group would be tabling many amendments due to the complexity of the proposal. He stressed that this would be done with the aim of reaching consensus;
- regarding the kilometre threshold, he stated that the discussions on protecting the public systems needed to be kept in line with existing European law. He specifically mentioned Regulation 1370/2007 on public passenger transport services by rail and by road in this regard;
- there would be legal problems concerning competition;
- he was not in favour of an independent regulatory authority, and stated that it should be up to the MS to decide their competent authorities;
- regarding stations and cabotage, he stated that this was also up to the MS to make exemptions;
- he stressed that it “was not a Spanish problem”. The national parliaments of Ireland, the Czech Republic, Romania and Austria had rebelled against the proposal, citing the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality;
- the European Transport Union had also expressed its rejection of the proposal;
- it was an extremely complex file, and it needed more time. He was in favour of a postponement, not in terms of content, but because of the interlinkages to other files.
Peter Kouroumbashev (S&D, BG)
- he stated that he was trying to “understand the logic of the Commission” regarding the proposal, which was suggesting to liberalise cabotage whereas in the Mobility Package I, the Commission was proposing certain limits on it;
- he had suggested that ‘good cabotage’ and ‘bad cabotage’ existed in the EU:
- when there was a dominance of companies from Central and Eastern Europe, “obviously” the cabotage was bad and needed to be limited;
- cabotage was good when there was a dominance of companies from Western Europe;
- his point of view was that freight needed to be liberalised, and buses and coaches needed to be limited because it was “the most social service”;
- he did not believe that the the national model of one country needed to be exported to other countries, e.g. the German national model to Spain and vice versa;
- it was not the job of the Commission or the Parliament to act as the “exporter”, or impose the same model on all countries. It could cause social problems;
- he also expressed his doubts about the independent regulatory authority, especially regarding companies needing to prove their economic equilibrium of their models to those authorities;
- he called for a level playing field across all the legislative proposals, and mentioned administrative burdens in this regard;
- he stated that his group would be tabling amendments, and that his group was generally not in favour of the Rapporteur’s text which was defending the Commission’s proposal.
Dominique Riquet (ALDE, FR)
- there was strong resistance to this proposal at the national level. However, he thanked the Rapporteur who had done excellent preparatory work;
- different models existed due to historical and geographical reasons;
- 100 kilometers was a large distance in Belgium, but not in Spain. It would be difficult to apply the same minimum threshold across the EU;
- regarding urban areas, there was the issue of demarcation;
- he stated that he was following the comments regarding cabotage very closely. Cabotage became bad when it was being used as an activity;
- there was a difference between delivering goods and transporting people;
- he encouraged the Rapporteur to continue his work and hoped that a common position would emerge.
Michael Cramer (Greens/EFA, DE)
- he suggested that the Commission’s proposal had come too late, or that perhaps it had not considered the situation thoroughly;
- fair competition needed to be considered. Buses did not have to pay a toll unlike their competitors on rail;
- in Germany, Flixbus had “more or less bought up” their competitors and it was now a monopoly;
- the Spanish market functioned well without any monopolies, as there were some 300 operators on the market;
- he stated that the Rapporteur was trying to move things in the right direction regarding public service obligations;
- terminals were also a complicated issue, especially vis-a-vis the building of terminals with state or private money.
- she stated that the Shadow Rapporteur would be tabling amendments on public investments in favour of the rights of workers in the context of deregulation.
Interventions by other Member followed
Lucy Anderson (S&D, UK)
- she agreed entirely with the comments made by Luis de Grandes Pascual (EPP, ES) and Peter Kouroumbashev (S&D, BG);
- she had hosted a dinner event June, which had been very well attended by operators, trade unions, public authorities and EU institution representatives. She stated that “very few people had a good word to say about this proposal”;
- there were serious methodological flaws in the proposal. She did not understand how stimulating national markets would inevitably lead to stimulating international markets;
- the follow-up consultation had only focused on certain stakeholders. She stated that the proposal had “barely scraped through” the Regulatory Scrutiny Board;
- the issues surrounding modal shift had not been sufficiently taken into account. The point made by Michael Cramer (Greens/EFA, DE) regarding tolling was also important;
- regarding terminal access, she stated that the Rapporteur had not fully taken into account the scarcity of land in cities and the problems faced by public authorities because of this;
- she hoped that the Committee would “think seriously again about this whole proposal”.
Isabella De Monte (S&D, IT)
- she raised the issue of alternative modes of transport and clean vehicles. She suggested promoting the use of bicycles;
- on the issue of liberalisation and cabotage, she stated that the rules had to be harmonised for freight and the transport of persons;
- PSO contracts had to be protected;
- she mentioned the safety and security of buses and coaches.
Inés Ayala Sender (S&D, ES)
- she stated that other Members had defended the Spanish model “better than we could have ourselves”;
- it was important for the Parliament and the Commission to work together to avoid jeopardising the complicated situations in countries such as Spain.
Frederik Rasmussen, Deputy Head of Unit, Road Transport, DG MOVE, made the following remarks:
- the Commission viewed most of the amendments by the Rapporteur in a “positive light” and in line with the Commission’s objectives. The Rapporteur’s amendments also improved the Commission’s text on several issues;
- the main point on which the Commission considered that more work was needed was on the definition of terminals, as it could lead to many terminals falling outside the scope of the Regulation;
- regarding charging, he stated that there was a possibility to include buses and coaches under the Eurovignette.
Rapporteur Roberts Zīle (ECR, LV) made the following closing remarks:
- he stressed that rail transport did not reach remote areas the same way as buses and coaches. He also stated that most people would not be able to do 100 kilometres on a bicycle, and asked the Members to be “serious in their argumentation”;
- he was single market orientated and believed that in the future cabotage would be excluded from European legislation;
- his proposal was based on a step-by-step approach to create competition;
- he stated that he would try to find the best compromise possible.
Chair, Karima Delli (Greens/EFA, FR)
- the deadline for amendments was 6 September, 12:00.
Source: One Policy Place