Passengers' rights will be a key issue in the transport sector in the next six months. This has a lot to do with the fact that the Spanish EU presidency is hoping to make progress in talks on draft regulations on the rights of passengers travelling by sea, coach and bus. The talks may, at least for sea passengers, lead to a final agreement with the European Parliament. In addition, the European Commission is considering revising rules on the rights of airline passengers. It has just launched a wide-ranging consultation on the issue and a major conference will allow all stakeholders to express their views in early 2010. New legislative proposals are likely to follow. This follows a recent European Parliament resolution calling for measures, before July 2010, to protect passengers who are victims of airlines going bankrupt and a new European Court of Justice ruling (joint ruling of 19 November 2009 - cases C-402/07 and C-432/07). This interprets existing rules (Regulation 261/2004) very broadly by considering that a significant delay should give passengers the right to financial compensation by airlines. The regulation itself does not stipulate this. Given that the Commission has also criticised poor implementation of the rules and "significant" problems in baggage handling (Anne Houtman, director in DG Transport, at the parliamentary transport committee on 9 November), there is every reason to believe that "adjustments" will be put forward in the coming months. In addition, a huge information campaign on railway passengers' rights is to be launched by the Commission in early 2010 after a new regulation in this area (Regulation 1371/2007) came into force on 3 December 2009.


It is likely that transport safety, one of the Spanish presidency's priorities, will be discussed at considerable length. Spain wants to move ahead with a text, tabled by the Commission at the end of October 2009, which proposes new rules for investigations into air accidents. The Spaniards hope to reach an agreement at first reading with the European Parliament. Contact with the rapporteur has been scheduled for February.

The Commission is due to present its new 2011-2020 action plan on road safety in the first half of 2010. If it does so early enough - March/April - some technical meetings will be organised by the Spanish presidency to draft conclusions, which could be approved by the Transport Council in June. Another issue could also feature...

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