You are in:

Share on Facebook: opens new windowShare on Twitter: opens new window

At EU Council of Transport Ministers in Brussels

Íñigo de la Serna defends competitiveness and social rights of transport firms as benchmark in Spain's position on Mobility Package

Tuesday 5 December 2017
Ministerio de Fomento

The Minister for Public Works, Íñigo de la Serna, defended the competitiveness and social rights of transport firms as two benchmarks that guide Spain's position on the Mobility Package at the European Union Council of Transport Ministers.

The Package includes a series of legislative proposals aimed at modifying aspects of EU law on road haulage currently in force. The first part, announced back in May, contains proposals to regulate the rules governing access to the profession and to the market, measures on the rental of goods vehicles without a driver, the rules on the posting of workers, and driving and rest times (digital tachograph). This has been complemented with another two additional legislative proposals on the Eurovignette directive and electronic tolls.

During the Council meeting, the European Commission also presented the second part of the Mobility Package, which includes four legislative proposals: common rules on access to the coach and bus services market, common rules on the combined transport of goods, the promotion of clean and energy efficient transport and an action plan on infrastructure for alternative fuels.

First part of the Mobility Package

During his speech on the first part of the Mobility Package, Íñigo de la Serna advocated the need to guarantee the functioning of the single market of the European Union and competitiveness, whilst preserving the rights of workers and improving the working conditions of transport firms.

"International transport is an essential vehicle for the functioning of the EU single market and for the competitiveness of our economies", pointed out the minister.

Furthermore, the Minister for Public Works highlighted that the high degree of mobility inherent in international transport makes it necessary to apply the rules on the posting of workers flexibly, which would be achieved by introducing a period of monthly exception for transport operations and cabotage. If it is not possible to reach a consensus on the number of days, the minister proposed looking for new parameters to reach a balance between the different positions.

As regards cabotage, the initial position adopted by the European Commission is to go from the current period of seven days during which three cabotage operations can be carried out, to allowing an unlimited number of cabotage operations over a period of five days. Spain is in favour of not specifying a minimum number of controls and would accept the proposal, but without additional restrictions such as the establishment of a minimum period between operations or a monthly maximum.

As regards the fight against fraud, the Minister for Public Works advocated the need to boost these policies, albeit without imposing bureaucratic burdens on transport firms that damage competitiveness and the functioning of the single market.

In relation to the last point in this area, Íñigo de la Serna backed the Commission's proposal that allows greater flexibility in driving and rest times.

Trans-European Transport Network and CEF Funds

The European Union Council of Transport Ministers also adopted three texts of conclusions on different issues, such as the progress on the implementation of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) and the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), the digitalisation of transport, and the intermediate assessment of Galileo, EGNOS and the European GNSS Agency.

As regards the Trans-European Transport Network and the Connecting Europe Facility, the conclusions presented at the Council meeting strengthen the commitment of Member States to the implementation of this network. To date, 92% of the budget has been committed and the corridors have proven to be a useful instrument for boosting the network. But, despite these figures, the Council recognises that there are still some important points on which work needs to be done, such as the continuation of the corridors, new financing tools that support the CEF facility, while highlighting the importance of cross-border projects.

Along these lines, Minister de la Serna announced that Spain and Portugal are preparing, with the support of the coordinator of the Atlantic Corridor, an implementing decision on the cross-border stretch which will represent an even greater commitment to the development of the connection between the two countries - a project they hope will receive financial backing from the European Commission.

It is worth recalling that on 28 November, the European Commission published the list of projects initially approved to receive funding under the CEF Blending 2017 call for proposals, which includes three Spanish proposals that will receive funding for the sum of 72 million euros. These projects correspond to the implementation of the UIC gauge line on the stretch from Castellbisbal to Villaseca, the SESAR Project for the operational implementation of the VoIP [Voice Over Internet Protocol] communications system, and the motorway of the sea between Barcelona and Civitavecchia.

In the three previous rounds of proposals of the CEF within the current framework, the European Commission granted a total of 981 million euros for investments in Spain out of a total of 5.47 billion euros approved for the whole of Europe.

As regards the Council conclusion on the digitalisation of transport, the Minister for Public Works expressed his support for the Commission to present a new strategy, and recalled that this new scenario will require an effort to adapt the sector in terms of both training and qualifications to the new circumstances.

Furthermore, and in relation to one-stop port services, the Spanish minister recalled that Spain has already developed a work system for its port network and, for that reason, called for any new initiative to be set up within a de-centralised environment.

Íñigo de la Serna took the opportunity of this conclusion on digitalisation to present the Innovation Plan for Transport and Infrastructure for the period 2017-2020, drawn up by the Ministry of Public Works, which reflects the clear commitment by the Government of Spain to digitalisation.

Air transport

As regards air transport, the Minister for Public Works supported the revision of the Regulation on the defence of competition in the air transport sector, and the adoption of a new instrument that protects EU airlines from unfair practices that distort fair competition.

To that end, he insisted on the mechanisms developed to take into account the interests of all the Member States and to be particularly sensitive to the bilateral relations that these have with third countries.

He also stressed that it is necessary to continue making progress on developing the new regulation to seek common ground and reiterated Spain's commitment to continue collaborating with the work being carried out by the Consensus Aviation Group in order to count on the optimum tools to guarantee the competitiveness of our airlines.

Spain, re-elected to the Council of the IMO

Last Friday, Spain was re-elected as a members of the Council of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), following elections held by the Assembly of the IMO, at which 162 delegations took part.

The minister expressed his gratitude to all the Member States that have confirmed their support for Spain's candidature.

Non official translation