Pending the institutional procedures under way (Opinions of the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, codecision procedure with the European Parliament), the Council noted that there was broad agreement on the draft Directive on ship inspection organisations.
The draft Directive aims at strengthening and harmonising the quality of the ship inspection and survey organisations undertaking tasks for the Member States ("classification societies"), in particular by:
– transferring from the Member States to the Commission the task of recognising, monitoring and suspending the inspection organisations, it being understood that Member States retain the power for appointing the recognised organisations responsible for surveying their fleet;
– harmonising the civil liability regime of the recognised organisations;
extending the information to be provided by the recognised organisations to the Commission, the flag States and the Sirenac information system for port State control and, in case of change of classification society, to that newly appointed society.
DIRECTIVE ON PORT STATE CONTROL OF SHIPPING
The Council took note of progress in the discussions on the Directive proposed by the Commission. It instructed the Permanent Representatives Committee to step up proceedings on that dossier so that the Council could reach agreement at its October meeting and thus advance the codecision procedure with Parliament.
The proposal for amending the Directive on port State control aims at making inspections mandatory depending on the targeting system for identifying ships representing high risks established by the Paris Memorandum on port State control. As regards older ships, stricter measures concern, in particular, mandatory expanded inspections in order to detect possible risks and the refusal of access to Community ports of old ships having the worst safety record. The proposal also provides for a wider divulgation of information between port States, Commission and the general public and an improved monitoring of the application of the Directive.
REGULATION ON DOUBLE-HULL OIL TANKERS
The Council noted progress in proceedings on the Regulation proposed by the Commission on the gradual introduction of double-hull oil tankers. It drew attention to the importance of the technical questions raised by the Commission proposal.
The Council took note of delegations’ contributions and instructed the Permanent Representatives Committee to continue its work and to make preparations for a discussion at the October Council.
The proposal on double-hull tankers aims at accelerating the phasing-out of single-hull oil tankers and their replacement by double-hull tankers as already provided for in the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL). In this respect, it is to be noted that the United States has already undertaken a similar move under the US Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA90). The Commission proposes that tankers flying the flag of a Member State or entering Community ports will be equipped with double hulls at dates similar to those imposed by the United States. It is also proposed that the phasing-out scheme be extended to vessels smaller than those currently covered by MARPOL. As an accompanying measure, the Commission proposes financial incentives in the form of reduced port and pilotage dues for double-hull tankers and increased dues for single-hull tankers.
MARITIME SAFETY - CONCLUSIONS
"1. THE COUNCIL reaffirms its resolve to pursue and step up a maritime safety policy at international, Community and national level to reduce the risk of accidents, thus avoiding loss of human life and preventing pollution of the marine environment.
2. It recognises that acceptance, by any part of the shipping industry, of substandard practices affects protection of people and the environment, vessel safety and fair competition and that the elimination of such practices will be beneficial for all parties involved and help bring about a universal culture of safety and quality.
3. It considers that improving the efficiency and standard of maritime authorities in the Member States is a decisive factor in the role to be played by the latter in safety and prevention of pollution of the marine environment. It accordingly calls on Member States to evaluate the situation and, where necessary, to tailor human resources and means required to the various tasks to be carried out by them and to introduce a quality management system.
4. It points to the need to develop exchanges of experience between Member States on organisational matters and working methods in particular by a better coordination of the activities of Vessel Traffic Services (VTS), with a view to establishing improved procedures and requirement levels. It regards this as taking on greater significance in view of the current European Union enlargement process.
5. It supports the development and extension of the EQUASIS information system so as to bring greater transparency of information on the safety and quality of merchant vessels worldwide.
6. Realising that the improvement of maritime safety requires fully qualified crews and good shipboard working conditions, it invites the Member States to ratify the relevant IMO and ILO international conventions and to look for solutions to the problem of abandoned mariners.
7. It considers that special heed should be paid to seaborne trade of oil and other hazardous substances and accordingly welcomes the timeliness of the communication submitted by the Commission on the safety of seaborne oil trade.
8. It points to the progress made in considering the proposal for amendment of Council Directive 94/57/EC on common rules and standards for ship inspection and survey organisations and for the relevant activities of maritime administrations, which should make possible a high degree of harmonisation as regards classification societies' financial liability as well as an improved and more uniform supervision of the tasks delegated to them.
9. It instructs the Permanent Representative Committee to give priority to further consideration of the proposal for amendment of Directive 95/21/EC concerning the enforcement, in respect of shipping using Community ports and sailing in the waters under the jurisdiction of the Member States, of international standards for ship safety, pollution prevention and shipboard living and working conditions (port State control) with a view to adopting, before the end of the year 2000, that proposal in order to increase the effectiveness of port State control and to refuse access to Community ports of manifestly unsafe ships.
10. It instructs the Permanent Representatives Committee to continue consideration, with the same priority, of the proposal for a Regulation on the accelerated phasing-in of double-hull or equivalent design requirements for single-hull oil tankers and invites the Commission to submit to it as soon as possible an assessment of its economic, social and legal implications for the European Union economy and for hydorcarbon supplies.
11. It notes the Commission's intention to propose, as indicated in its communication on the safety of seaborne oil trade, a number of actions aiming at improving maritime safety, such as proposals providing for the establishment of a system of monitoring of shipping enabling a more efficient tracking of ships, as well as a legal framework for the strengthening of the currently applicable liability regime in the field of pollution caused by oil spills.
12. It urges Member States, bearing in mind the importance of involving non-EU countries as well, strongly to support work under way within the IMO that should result in a quick and adequate revision of Annex I to the MARPOL Convention so as to eliminate the risk of shipping in single hull oil tankers.
13. It calls on Member States and the Commission to pursue the objective of increasing the ceiling for compensation per accident laid down by the International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage (IOPCF) with a view, in particular, to providing better cover for damage to the environment, and to work for that purpose with non-EU countries as well.
14. It welcomes the concentrated inspection campaign, launched by the Paris Memorandum's Port State Control Committee, targeting oil tankers.
15. It requests the Commission to consider developing, when appropriate, a European database on accidents and incidents at sea, as an important requirement for the prevention of future accidents and for the devising of measures based on formal safety assessment (FSA).
16. It points out that pursuit of the objectives of maritime safety policy depends on proper, effective application of existing legislation, including general Community measures on health and working conditions applicable to the maritime sector. It accordingly requests the Commission to submit to it a report on the implementation and application of the Community acquis in the Member States.
17. It reiterates the aim, as stated previously, of maintaining and promoting seafaring occupations in Europe, by means of increased interest in such work on the part of young Europeans and appropriate job training. To this end it calls on the Commission to submit a communication on the recruitment and training of seafarers, bearing in mind in particular the suggestions made by the social partners."
GALILEO The Council took note of the Commission’s interim report on the definition phase of the GALILEO project, commending in particular the results attained at the World Radiocommunications Conference in Istanbul. The Council then gave its political agreement to the draft conclusions below, subject to the draft being formally submitted for adoption at a future Council meeting.
"The Council of the European Union,
in the light of the conclusions of the European Council meeting in Cologne on 3 and 4 June 1999, affirms the strategic importance of the GALILEO project, intended to meet civil needs;
recalls its Resolution of 19 July 1999 1 with regard to conditions for implementing the definition phase of the GALILEO project and expects the Commission to submit the results of the definition phase, addressing all the requirements of that Resolution, to the Council by the end of 2000 to allow a Council decision to be taken on the further development of GALILEO;
3. welcomes the continuing work at ESA on the GALILEO satellite programme;
4. welcomes the results achieved as regards allocation of new satellite radionavigation frequencies at the World Radiocommunications Conference ended on 2 June 2000;
5. points out that the existence of a number of independent, interoperable systems alongside one another could make it possible to develop the full potential of satellite radionavigation worldwide;
6. calls on the Commission to continue negotiations with the United States of America and the Russian Federation in order to clear the way for close cooperation, bearing in mind the timetable for the European project, and to go ahead with talks with other non member countries;
7. underlines that the definition of the system should be based, inter alia, on user requirements based on research and an intensive dialogue with potential users. Therefore, the Commission is invited to continue and intensify a structural dialogue with relevant users' fora and to present to the Council how GALILEO will meet the user requirements;
8. invites the Commission to present as soon as possible information on:
a further cost/benefit analysis, taking into account the gains and costs that the project could entail for different sectors and an equitable distribution of costs between the various categories of user;
the technical options decided on for the final definition phase following the objectives set for the project as regards services, reliability and international cooperation; those options should facilitate the establishment of a public-private partnership and of liability rules;
a project architecture meeting the following specifications: supply of a full range of restricted-access services, world-wide coverage, including Northern latitudes, optimal integration of the EGNOS ensuring continuity, integrity and reinforcing of the capability of the system and cost optimisation;
the broad lines of the organisation, financing and management of the GALILEO programme.
9. Invites the Commission to provide the above information in time to enable the Council (Transport) to conduct a detailed policy debate at its next meeting, on the basis of a questionnaire, and subsequently reach decisions at its meeting on 20 and 21 December."
The Commission briefed the Council on the measures it had taken following the Council of 28 March to inform the public of European air passengers’ rights. The Council particularly welcomed the launch of the information campaign with the active cooperation of European airports which had officially got under way the previous week in Lisbon and Rome.
The importance of the cooperation of the airlines was stressed in particular.
Noting the recent Commission communication aimed at improving and extending passengers' rights, the Council instructed the Permanent Representatives Committee to examine that document so that the Council could discuss it at its October meeting.
It will be recalled that at the Council meeting on 28 March 2000, the Commission presented a working document on this subject. The Commission contemplated political action in two stages:
the first stage involved short-term action aimed at making passengers aware of their rights and how to exercise them. To that end, the Commission departments had launched the abovementioned information campaign to publicise passengers’ rights and would prepare an action programme for its implementation.
the second stage would be to prepare the adoption of medium-term measures to improve rights, get better service in the event of a problem and provide consumers with the necessary information to make informed choices.
SINGLE EUROPEAN SKY
Commissioner DE PALACIO informed the Council of the work done to date by the High-Level Group she chaired. The Council took note of delegations’ contributions and stressed that the Group’s activities would have to continue later and – as had been agreed at the European Council in Santa Maria da Feira - the Commission was requested to submit a final report during the first half of 2001, with a view to making suitable proposals.
Aeroplane delays have reached worrying levels in Europe; the problem was seen to be particularly acute last summer and during the crisis in Kosovo. It was in that context that, in June 2000, the Transport Council adopted a Resolution calling on the Commission to submit to it a report on the action planned to alleviate the problem. In December 1999, the Commission presented a communication on the creation of a single European sky. At that meeting, the Commission informed the Council of its intention to convene a High-Level Group chaired by Ms DE PALACIO, Vice-President of the Commission, with the participation of all the parties concerned – civilian and military – in order to address the problems of air traffic management comprehensively.
SAFETY REQUIREMENTS AND ATTESTATION OF PROFESSIONAL COMPETENCE FOR CABIN CREWS IN CIVIL AVIATION
The Council instructed the Permanent Representatives Committee to carry out a detailed examination of the draft Directive on safety requirements for cabin crews in connection with the proposal for a Regulation aimed at incorporating JAR OPS 1 (Joint Aviation Requirements) into Community legislation.
Drawing the Council's attention to the abovementioned proposal, the Presidency stressed the political importance of the draft at a time when the Commission had just submitted its new proposal on the incorporation of JAR OPS. It is recalled that the proposal forms part of the technical, social and safety measures accompanying the process of liberalisation in the air transport sector.
ESTABLISHMENT OF A EUROPEAN AVIATION SAFETY AUTHORITY (EASA)
The Council held a discussion on air safety and reiterated that air safety had been a constant concern of that Council and that a considerable amount of preliminary work had been carried out to identify the best options for achieving this objective.
The Council recognised that there were various options for promoting and reinforcing air safety in Europe.
However, at the moment, in order to meet the aims of a rapid decision and efficient, pan-European action, the Council noted that a Community system might constitute the best solution for achieving the objective of greater safety.
From the statements made, it may be concluded that all delegations are prepared for discussions to continue with the study of a proposal for a Regulation setting up a Community Agency, to be submitted by the Commission.
The Council therefore invited the Commission to submit to it as soon as possible a proposal for a Regulation, bearing in mind the statements made at this meeting and complying with the broad outline set out by the Presidency in its note submitted for delegations’ consideration.
The Presidency’s note described in particular a potential system for developing air safety in Europe which could be part of the Community framework. The immediate benefits of such a system, compared with an international organisation, would be a single framework for decision-making and that it could be implemented without lengthy national ratification processes.
The Agency would issue standard certificates for aeronautical products, while the necessary rules for product certification would be adopted by the Commission through the committee procedure. The centralised issue of uniform standard certificates would seem to be a major improvement on the current system, which does not impose any standards.
third countries should be involved in the expert work of the Agency;
as regards safety issues, individual Agency decisions would be taken by the Executive Director. Nevertheless, Member States would be entitled to designate national experts to participate in the preparatory work, where relevant.
TRANSATLANTIC COMMON AVIATION AREA
The Commission informed the Council of the recent meetings with managers from the United States administration on the advisability of creating a Transatlantic common aviation area in the air transport sector ("TCAA", Transatlantic Common Aviation Area).
The Council expressed satisfaction with the progress in the work done at technical level on a possible brief for negotiations with the United States which it considered exhaustive. However, the Council noted the need for further work to allow it to take a political decision.
The Council requested the Permanent Representatives Committee to do the necessary preparatory work so that a decision could be taken at the December Council.
IMPROVEMENT OF ROAD SAFETY - RESOLUTION
THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION,
Having regard to the general discussion on the communication submitted by the Commission on 20 March 2000 entitled "Priorities in EU road safety: progress report and ranking of actions", welcomes the submission of the paper, which forms part of the second Community action programme entitled "Promoting Road Safety in the EU" for the period 1997 2001,
(1) Points out that the adoption of measures to increase transport safety is an objective of the common transport policy, expressly embodied in the Treaty;
(2) Considers that improving road safety should be one of the main priorities of transport policy, given the unacceptable number of deaths and injuries as a result of road accidents in Europe leading to serious physical, mental and material harm, be it to the victims and their families or to society as a whole;
(3) Points out that improving road safety is the responsibility of everyone, that is to say the European Union, the national, regional and local authorities of the Member States, the motor vehicle industry, transport companies, associations and above all road users themselves;
(4) Notes that as regards road accidents there are still significant differences between Member States and that that is one reason for stepping up action, at Community level as well;
(5) Notes that, in attributing an economic cost to fatalities, and to the physical and material damage caused by road accidents, the second programme introduced an economic dimension in the approach to road safety;
(6) Acknowledges that the costs of preventing accidents are, in general, much less than the economic cost of accidents and of the damage caused by them;
(7) Notes that although there is a trend towards a reduction in the annual number of victims, a significant proportion of whom are children and young people, the situation continues to be socially unacceptable, obliging everyone involved to make an active contribution to reducing the number of victims;
(8) Emphasises the importance of continuing and developing the work undertaken in the framework of administrative agreements on the application and implementation of joint traffic controls;
(9) Endorses the European Parliament's view expressed in its Resolution of 11 March 1998 on the second action programme1 as to the need for action in accordance with a new strategy to speed up progress regarding road safety, by establishing inter alia a ranking system for measures which need to be taken in future at Community level;
(10) Considers that progress on the following measures is essential.
I. LEGISLATIVE MEASURES
1. Amendment of Directive 91/671/EEC 2 with the aim of extending compulsory use of seat belts to all vehicles already fitted with this device as standard, and making it compulsory to use type approved child restraint systems.
2. Extension of the scope of Directive 92/6/EEC 3 on speed limitation devices to goods or passenger vehicles weighing over 3,5 tonnes taking into account the next evaluation report by the Commission on the experience gained in implementing that Directive.
3. Directive on the type-approval of vehicles with a forgiving front design, in the event of a collision, for the most vulnerable road users, in particular children, pedestrians and cyclists.
4. Directive on the requirement that users of motor-cycles and mopeds wear helmets.
5. Amendment of Directive 91/439/EEC 4 on driving licences with the aim of harmonising the subcategories in accordance with the various types of vehicles as well as targeting better the application of the medical criteria for driving licences.
6. Amendment of Directive 71/127/EEC 1 so as to increase the field of lateral and rear visibility, thus reducing "blind spots".
7. Measures relating to the problem of drunken driving: recommendation for driving under the influence of alcohol, encouraging Member States to consider, inter alia, the adoption of a maximum blood alcohol level of 0,5 mg/ml for drivers, without prejudice to the establishment of lower general limits or lower limits for specific categories of drivers.
II. INVESTIGATIVE MEASURES 1. Pursuing and intensifying work under the European New Car Assessment Programme (EURO NCAP) with a view to possibly including additional criteria concerning, in particular, active safety and the safety of pedestrians; assessing the results of the EURO NCAP programme in terms of road safety.
2. Continuing to investigate road safety problems caused by the behaviour of drivers under the influence of drugs and certain medicinal products, by studying in particular the best control practices in the Member States and developing methods of detection by screening which will permit more effective control.
3. Continuing investigative work aimed at establishing rules for the application of telematic systems in vehicles, given the current importance of the development of such systems and the need to increase knowledge of their effects in terms of road safety.
4. Continuing to investigate the use of advanced assisted driving technology, relating both to vehicles and infrastructure, which has considerable potential for improving road safety.
5. Continuing to evaluate technology relating to speed limitation devices and to identify any technical, organisational, administrative and legal difficulties in introducing them; defining a coherent strategy to eliminate those obstacles and promote the marketing of such technology.
6. Continuing and developing work on the protection of car occupants in the event of rear impact (whiplash).
7. Investigating the scope for using devices which prevent the engine from starting if the maximum blood alcohol level authorised at national level has been exceeded.
8. Continuing work on the installation in vehicles of devices reminding users to wear belts with a view to developing specifications.
9. Examining whether a requirement that cyclists wear helmets might not have negative repercussions for cycling and assessing the problems of applying such a measure in practice.
10. Continuing to look into the advantages and the consequences of permanent use of dipped headlights or special lights by vehicles for day-time driving.
11. Examining the possible secondary effects of air bags' being activated particularly in the event of a multiple impact.
12. Studying the affects and means of possible compulsory installation in light vehicles of adjustable devices warning of speed limit infringements, which drivers could operate.
III. INFORMATION MEASURES 1. Promoting the dissemination of the results of the test campaigns conducted in the framework of the EURO-NCAP programme.
2. Facilitating and reinforcing the exchange of information on road safety, particularly by exploiting the Community CARE 1 database on road accidents, since the availability of qualitative and quantitative information makes it possible to establish priorities and the measures to be taken to define road safety policies.
3. Promoting campaigns to raise awareness of the consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol and speeding.
4. Promoting campaigns to raise awareness of the importance of the use of seat belts by vehicle users and of helmets in the case of those using two-wheeled vehicles.
5. Setting up and administering an integrated information system collecting, comparing, interpreting and disseminating statistics on all aspects of road safety in the European Union.
6. Encouraging the exchange of information at European level on first aid for accident victims, since improving the effectiveness of that aid is one of the factors which has helped to reduce the number of road deaths.
7. Establishing guidelines for the dissemination of information on best practice for designing "forgiving" infrastructure and defining policies for eliminating black spots, as well as for informing drivers of their existence.
8. Promoting exchange of information on the best strategies for awareness campaigns.
IV. CONCLUSION In view of the above, and with the constant aim of reducing accidents as much as possible, the Council:
(1) supports the Commission Recommendation which aims at encouraging Member States' national, regional and local authorities to calculate expenditure on road safety measures and to monitor their effects, in order to compare expenditure with savings calculated on the basis of the total cost of accidents avoided;
(2) invites the abovementioned authorities to increase their investment in road safety projects and create new incentives, in particular financial incentives, designed to speed up investment at all levels;
(3) encourages the Member States to implement the Convention on Driving Disqualifications, signed on 17 June 1998 1;
(4) invites the Member States to complete the work already initiated under the Schengen Convention aimed at drawing up a cooperation agreement on proceedings for road traffic offences and the enforcement of financial penalties imposed in respect thereof.
In addition, the Council invites the Commission to:
(5) submit as quickly as possible the legislative proposals referred to above;
(6) continue work on investigative and information measures;
(7) continue, in cooperation with the Member States, work aimed at improving the quality of the CARE database and harmonising the concepts used;
(8) take into account when drafting its next action programme:
– this Resolution;
– any measures which could reduce the harmful consequences of inappropriate speed for road safety;
– the wisdom of setting a target figure for a reduction in the total number of victims on the roads of the Community.
INTEROPERABILITY OF THE CONVENTIONAL RAIL SYSTEM
The Council reached political agreement on the common position on the proposal for a Directive on the interoperability of the trans-European conventional rail system.
The Council instructed the Permanent Representatives Committee to finalise this text with a view to adopting, without discussion, a common position to be forwarded to the European Parliament.
This draft Directive would create Community mechanisms for preparing and adopting technical specifications that allow interoperability and for assessment of conformity with these specifications. It would apply to the trans European conventional network and would cover the renewal of equipment as well as upgrading and construction. It would provide for the drafting of technical specifications for a number of subsystems, in particular signalling and command/control, rolling stock, energy, infrastructure, maintenance, operations and information technology. The technical specifications and the European standards to make them operational would be obligatory throughout the trans-European conventional network, with certain exceptions.
TRANSIT RIGHTS FOR HEAVY GOODS VEHICLES THROUGH AUSTRIA (ECOPOINTS)
The Council examined the dossier concerning transit rights for heavy goods vehicles through Austria. Having been unable to reach an agreement, the Council instructed Coreper to continue examining the Commission proposal in the light of the Council's discussions, so that it could take a decision in good time.
It will be remembered that Protocol No 9 to Austria's Act of Accession, applicable until 1 January 2004 at the latest, contains two mechanisms for restricting transit by lorries through Austria: the ecopoint system and the safeguard clause.
The ecopoint system, which allows transit through Austria and the objective of which is to reduce the NOx pollution caused by lorries driving through Austria, consists of distribution among all the Member States of a number of ecopoints in accordance with the pollution produced by the above lorries. The safeguard clause provides that if the total number of lorries in transit in a year exceeds the number of transit journeys in 1991 by over 8%, the number of ecopoints will be reduced in accordance with a given formula.
The Commission, having noted that such an overrun occurred in 1999, submitted a draft Regulation in this context to the Committee provided for in the Protocol. According to the Commission, literal interpretation of the Protocol would necessitate a reduction of some 350 000 transit journeys for 2000. In order to avoid adverse effects for the economy of the EU as a whole, it therefore proposes amendment of the existing Regulation including a reduction in the number of ecopoints spread over four years, the exceptional suspension of the application of the 108% threshold for 2000 and alteration of the scale for apportioning ecopoints between the Member States.
The requisite qualified majority did not emerge within the Committee as a result of statistical and legal differences of opinion and differences concerning the methods adopted by the Commission. In accordance with the procedure laid down in the Protocol, the Commission has therefore decided to submit the proposal for a Regulation to the Council. The latter now has three months (until 20 September 2000) in which to act on the proposal; if it fails to do so, the proposed measures will be adopted by the Commission in accordance with its proposal.
DISTRIBUTION OF PERMITS FOR HEAVY GOODS VEHICLES TRAVELLING IN SWITZERLAND
The Council took note of progress on the dossier concerning the proposal for a Regulation on the distribution of permits for heavy goods vehicles travelling in Switzerland. Stressing the importance of being able to make full use of the transit options which would be open in Switzerland, the Council instructed the Permanent Representatives Committee to continue working on the dossier so that it might reach agreement at its October meeting.
Of the seven sectoral agreements between the Community and Switzerland in the process of being ratified, one concerns carriage of goods and passengers by rail and by road. It grants Community carriers, for a transition period, a quantity of permits allowing them to operate vehicles weighing over 28 tonnes within Swiss territory.
In February 1999 the Commission submitted a proposal for a Regulation to introduce tables allocating those permits between Member States.
Following the European Parliament's first reading Opinion on the proposal, the Commission submitted an amended proposal accepting Parliament's amendments in March 2000.
COMMISSION COMMUNICATION ON SAFER AND MORE COMPETITIVE QUALITY ROAD TRANSPORT IN THE COMMUNITY
The Council took note of the presentation made by the Commission in its communication entitled "Towards a safer and more competitive high quality road transport system in the Community" and delegations’ contributions on the subject. The Council noted that it could hold a discussion on that dossier, under the French Presidency, in the autumn.
ICAO: PROGRESS ON NOISE POLLUTION
The Council noted Commissioner DE PALACIO’s remarks emphasising that Member States should adopt a concerted approach to the work under way within the ICAO on noise pollution from aircraft.
ITEMS APPROVED WITHOUT DEBATE
(Decisions for which statements for the Council minutes have been made available to the public are indicated by asterisks; the statements in question may be obtained from the Press Office.)
TRANSPORT Directives concerning the transport of dangerous goods by road and by rail The Council adopted two common positions with a view to the adoption of two Directives concerning the transport of dangerous goods:
- a common position with a view to the adoption of a Directive amending Directive 94/55/EC on the approximation of the laws of the Member States with regard to the transport of dangerous goods by road, and
- a common position with a view to the adoption of a Directive amending Directive 94/49/EC on the approximation of the laws of the Member States with regard to the transport of dangerous goods by rail.
The main purpose of the two Directives is to settle the problems arising from the application of certain transitional provisions laid down respectively by Directives 94/55/EC and 96/49/EC which were valid until 31 December 1998.
The Directive concerning the transport of dangerous goods by road is also intended to ensure consistency between certain provisions of Directive 94/55/EC and the amendments to the annexed to the European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR).
The Directive concerning the transport of dangerous goods by rail is also intended to better define certain derogations provided for by Directive 96/49/EC in relation to a transitional provision for certain rail wagons and tanks.
AUDIOVISUAL/CULTURAL AFFAIRS Following the substantive agreement reached at the meeting of the Audiovisual/Cultural Affairs Council on 16 May 2000, the Council formally adopted:
- a Resolution on the conservation and enhancement of European cinema heritage;
- conclusions of the Council and of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States, meeting within the Council, concerning the communication from the Commission on principles and guidelines for the Community's audiovisual policy in the digital age.
(See press release 8394/00 Presse 154 for the text.)
EC/Turkey customs cooperation The Council adopted a common position with a view to adopting a draft Decision of the EC Turkey Customs Cooperation Committee on the acceptance, as proof of Community or Turkish origin, of movement certificates EUR.1 or invoice declarations issued by certain countries that have signed a preferential agreement with the Community or Turkey.
RESEARCH Cooperation agreements with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan The Council adopted two Decisions issuing directives to the Commission for the negotiation of two nuclear cooperation agreements between the European Atomic Energy Community and Kazakhstan and between the European Atomic Energy Community and Uzbekistan.
FISHERIES Amendment of the Regulation concerning TACs and quotas for 2000 The Council adopted a Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 2742/1999 fixing for 2000 the fishing opportunities and associated conditions for certain fish stocks and groups of fish stocks, applicable in Community waters and, for Community vessels, in waters where limitations in catch are required (TACs and quotas for 2000).
The Regulation fixes TACs and quotas in the Baltic Sea for herring catches in Community waters and for cod and sprat catches in Russian waters. It also defines appropriate conditions to control fishing and landing by vessels of non-member countries in the zone off the coast of the French department of Guyana.
COURT OF AUDITORS Special Report No 6/1999 concerning the principle of additionality The Council noted Special Report No 6/99 of the Court of Auditors concerning the principle of additionality and adopted the following conclusions:
"The general conclusion reached by the Court of Auditors should be taken into account, namely that the basic concept of additionality is relatively clear, but that its actual implementation raises some serious methodological difficulties.
The principle of additionality constitutes one of the four major principles governing the Structural Funds; the arrangements for verifying additionality as introduced by the new Regulation for the programming period 2000-2006 are simpler, more practical and more workable and, at the same time, are better integrated into the programming framework, and the processes for monitoring and evaluation are more suitable for use with the budgetary and statistical information available.
The problems in verifying additionality will have to continue to be resolved by constructive partnership between the Commission and the Member States, allowing pragmatic solutions to be found which are tailored to the particular situation of the different Objectives and Member States concerned.
As the Council has explicitly rejected the initial proposal from the Commission on establishing a link between verification of additionality and the decision on the performance reserve, and as there is no precise legal basis in the new Regulation on the Structural Funds, it is not for the Commission to introduce suspensive clauses in the decisions on the Member States' programming documents. Any imposition of sanctions for failure to comply with the principle of additionality should be contingent upon there being a clear and appropriate legal basis and on a uniform method and precise rules applicable to all Member States."
Special Report No 7/1999 concerning the development of industrial sites The Council noted Special Report No 6/99 of the Court of Auditors concerning the development of industrial sites and adopted the following conclusions:
"The development of industrial sites cannot be seen as an objective of structural policy in itself. Structural Fund programmes do not always contain specific measures for the development of industrial sites but use such sites as a means of achieving regional policy goals.
The new Structural Funds General Regulation explicitly requires monitoring and evaluation tools which will make it easier to measure and compare the impact of operations concerning industrial sites.
The transfer of Community public resources to a public body does not constitute a State aid within the meaning of Article 87(1) of the Treaty. It is a matter for the Member States alone to decide whether sales and leasing by the beneficiary public authority take place under market conditions or on more favourable terms. However, sales and leasing to private businesses of plots developed by public authorities on terms which do not reflect market conditions may constitute a State aid, and should be notified and approved under Article 88(3) of the Treaty, except for cases covered by the "de minimis" rule.
ERDF aid should not be used to enable public bodies to make profits. Where such profits occur, they should be refunded or re invested in other operations under the ERDF objectives."
Special Report No 3/2000 on measures to assist the employment of young persons under the EAGGF (Guidance Section) The Council noted the report from the Court of Auditors and the outcome of the proceedings of the Working Party on Structural Measures concerning examination of Special Report No 3/2000 of the Court of Auditors on the European Social Fund and the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (Guidance Section) – measures to assist the employment of young persons.
Special Report No 7/2000 concerning the International Fund for Ireland and the Special Support Programme for Peace and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the Border Counties of Ireland The Council noted the submission of the report by the Court of Auditors on the Special Support Programme for Peace and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland and adopted the following conclusions:
"The financial support of the EU, through the IFI and the PEACE programme, has helped to underpin the peace and reconciliation process in the region, thereby contributing to significant progress at political level.
The IFI has contributed positively to pioneer the joint management and delivery of programmes between Ireland and Northern Ireland and was innovative in giving priority for funding to disadvantaged areas. Its status and role are unique and it operates according to funding rules that are different from those which apply to the EU's own initiatives.
The PEACE programme has proved to be an overall success. Since the Court of Auditors' report in 1997, the Monitoring Committee and the implementing bodies have already taken measures to correct many of the deficiencies detected by the Court in this report, and the managing Authority has committed itself to review procedures further on the basis of the audit's findings."
ECOFIN Principles for recording taxes and social contributions The Council adopted its common position with a view to the adoption of a Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 2223/96 as concerns principles for recording taxes and social contributions.
The aim of the new Regulation will be to modify the common principles relating to the ESA 95 with regard to taxes and social contributions in order to ensure comparability and transparency between the Member States.
To achieve that objective, the impact on the net lending/borrowing of general government of taxes and social contributions recorded in the system would not include amounts unlikely to be collected.
Accordingly, the impact on general government net lending/borrowing of taxes and social contributions recorded in the system on an accrual basis should be equivalent over a reasonable amount of time to the corresponding amounts actually received.
TRADE POLICY EC-Kazakhstan Agreement on trade in textile products The Council adopted a Decision on the signing of the Agreement on trade in textile products with Kazakhstan.
It will be remembered that during the second half of 1999, the Commission, following the directives adopted by the Council, negotiated and initialled Agreements on trade in textile products with certain third countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Republic of Belarus, People’s Republic of China, Arab Republic of Egypt, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Kingdom of Nepal, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan).
Pending the completion of the procedures for their formal conclusion, these Agreements are being provisionally applied for the year 2000, subject to reciprocity in accordance with the decisions taken by the Council on 21 December 1999.
With a view to the planned visit to Brussels on 27 June 2000 of a delegation from Kazakhstan headed by its President, the Council has decided to adopt a Decision on the signing of the Agreement with Kazakhstan so that signing can take place on 27 June.
APPOINTMENTS Committee of the Regions The Council adopted a Decision appointing two Italian members and one Italian alternate member of the Committee of the Regions:
- Mr Paolo AGOSTINACCHIO and Mr Luigi FLORIO have been appointed members of the Committee of the Regions in place of Mr Enzo BIANCO and Mr Gian Franco CIAURRO for the remainder of their term of office, which runs until 25 January 2002.
- Mr Antonangelo CASULA has been appointed alternate member of the Committee of the Regions in place of Mr Walter VITALI for the remainder of his term of office, which runs until 25 January 2002.
1 OJ C 221/1999, p. 1.
1 OJ C 104, 6.4.1998, p. 139.
2 Council Directive 91/671/EEC of 16 December 1991 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to compulsory use of safety belts in vehicles of less than 3,5 tonnes (OJ L 373, 31.12.1991, p. 26).
3 Council Directive 92/6/EEC of 10 February 1992 on the installation and use of speed limitation devices for certain categories of motor vehicles in the Community
(OJ L 57, 2.3.1992, p. 27).
4 OJ L 237, 24.8.1991, p. 1.
1 Council Directive 71/127/EEC of 1 March 1971 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the rear-view mirrors of motor vehicles (OJ L 68, 22.3.1971, p. 1).
1 Council Decision 93/704/EC of 30 November 1993 on the creation of a Community database on road accidents (OJ L 324, 30.12.1993, p. 63).