Progress on several major transport issues is hoped for during the first six months of 2012, particularly on the two key issues of the recasting of railway legislation and the airport package recently presented by the European Commission. Also on the agenda is the vexing subject of gigaliners, giant trucks that can measure up to 25 metres and weigh 60 tonnes.

Rail: In the wake of the political agreement concluded at the Transport Council, on 12 December, the Danes will begin the real negotiations with the European Parliament to try to work out a second-reading agreement and avoid conciliation on this sensitive issue. It will not be easy, but Parliament's first-reading results suggest that it is possible. MEPs have backed down over the point on which states were most likely to take a hard line: the separation of transport activities from management of railway infrastructure, which implied the end of railway holding companies. So they could well bury the hatchet, although there are still serious points of friction between the two institutions, in particular over the planning of public finances.

The matter of railway holding companies has not been completely buried, however. The Commission is working on a legislative proposal for the liberalisation of national passenger traffic, to be presented at the end of 2012. There will be preparatory work under the Danish Presidency, particularly consultation of stakeholders.

Air: Denmark has chosen to focus on two of the three airport package' proposals presented on 1 December: ground handling services (revision of Directive 96/67/EC) and aircraft noise (revision of Directive 2002/30/EC). The proposal on slots will be more in the spotlight during the latter half of the year, under the Cypriot Presidency. The Danes aim to work out general approaches on ground handling at the March Transport Council and on aircraft noise at the June Council.

The Single European Sky will be the focus of several working sessions as the December 2012 deadline for setting up functional airspace blocs (FABs) draws closer. The FABs are meant to organise air traffic management based on traffic flows rather than on national borders. Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas recently expressed concern over the fact that in most member states the process is not sufficiently advanced.

On the Commission side, work is under way on revision of Regulation 261/2004 on passengers' rights in cases of delayed or cancelled flights. The executive...

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