The Council of Transport Ministers, meeting on 9 December in Brussels, passed on to the Czech Presidency a weighty issue, namely the Eurovignette, or how to make heavy-duty vehicles pay for the costs of pollution, noise and road congestion. The previous French EU Presidency had not succeed in building agreement among the 27 member states on the nuisances to be taken into account to determine the level of tolls, the calculation methods or whether or not passenger cars should be included in the system.

The Czechs will attempt to solve all these sensitive points - and they are not the only ones - with the aim of at least coming to an agreement in Council. The possibility of an accord with the European Parliament during the next six months is highly unlikely. MEPs are expected to adopt their report in March.

This issue will be one of the Presidency's transport priorities.

It remains to be seen whether the Czechs will put as much resolve into another issue inherited from the French Presidency: the draft directive to facilitate cross-border punishment of road traffic offences. Officially, all member states approve of the aim to end the impunity of reckless drivers once they cross a border. However, the great majority of states - among them the Czech Republic - consider the legal base of the proposal incorrect because it includes provisions on judicial cooperation in criminal matters. These states expect the European Commission to change the legal base, but the EU executive is refusing to do so. The matter is currently at a total standstill.


A rethink on legislation liberalising the rail sector in the EU - known as the first rail package' - was expected to take place during the latter half of 2008. It did not materialise and will probably not emerge before the second half of 2009. However, considerable preparatory work will be done during the early months of the year. Towards the end of 2008, the Commission received a report from the consultants, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, which covers dozens of measures that could be proposed under the overhaul. The Commission now has to make its choice and will discuss the matter with stakeholders early in the year.

It is hard to say for the moment how extensive the reform will be. Reducing noise from train carriages should be an element. Infrastructure operators hope to see new rules on infrastructure financing, while new railway companies prefer to see settled several outstanding problems...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT