In the transport sector, the two big dossiers to be followed during the first half of 2011 are the Eurovignette and the recasting of the first European railway package.
With the Belgian Presidency of the EU having managed to secure a political agreement in the Council on the revision of the former, its Hungarian successor will try to take the issue forward by securing an agreement at second reading with the European Parliament. The aim of the text is to enable those member states that want to, to put in place road tolls to charge lorry drivers some external costs created by the road transport of goods on the polluter pays' principle.
However, there are still some significant differences between the positions of member states and MEPs, which will need to be brought more into line. Another key issue is the scope of application of the text. The Council has reserved for member states the possibility to exclude lorries below 12 tonnes, while the Parliament is calling for the text to apply to all lorries of over 3.5 tonnes. On the allocation of resources generated by the tolls, MEPs want the money to be reinvested in the transport sector, while member states do not want to be told what they should do.
Another big dossier is the recasting of directives in the first European railway package. These are rules that should guarantee the non-discriminatory access of rail companies to the network of all EU member states. The proposal contains both measures relating to the improvement of access to the market and to the financing/price-setting of railway infrastructure. Only these last two aspects (price-setting and financing) have so far been debated in the Council. The Hungarian Presidency will therefore take up the issue and hopes to be able to secure a general orientation from the Council. The Parliament is also getting to work on the dossier. According to provisional scheduling, its first reading report is due to be adopted during the last plenary session of the first half of 2011, on 22 June (rapporteur: Debora Serracchiani, S&D, Italy).
Also in the first half of 2011, the European Commission is due to present - with some delay - the future white paper on transport policy 2010-2020. This is a keenly awaited communication. It will contain the main lines of action for the next ten years in the areas of infastructure, decarbonisation, clean vehicles, smart technologies and internalisation of external costs. The Hungarian Presidency has scheduled a...