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European transport perspective for the Western Balkan countries

In the afternoon session of today's Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council meeting, the Transport Ministers of the EU Member States discussed the so-called transport agreement with the Western Balkan countries, as well as railway agreements, clean and energy-efficient road transport vehicles, and aviation.

The transport ministers conferred a mandate on the Commission to open negotiations on the Transport Community Treaty between the EU and the Western Balkan countries. This is the continuation of the process and events of transport rapprochement of the Community with this region, as well as the continuation of the content discussed by the EU Transport Ministers at the conference in May in Belgrade.

The current President of the EU Transport Council, Slovenian Minister of Transport Radovan Žerjav, today underlined that "the start of negotiations and later the later conclusion of the Transport Community Treaty between the EU and the Western Balkan countries are of utmost importance for the Slovenian Presidency with regard to its geographical situation. By conferring a mandate, the EU sends a strong message to the Western Balkan countries, emphasising its commitment to the European perspective in the area of transport."  

The Commission and Member States will help the region strengthen its development in the area of transport by disseminating best practices and transposing transport acquis in terms of infrastructure development, safety, environmental protection and social legislation in the field of maritime transport, land transport and inland waterways. 

The Commission is scheduled to officially start negotiations on 24 June and to celebrate this official event in Brussels.

The ministers also adopted decisions regarding multi-year agreements on the quality of the railway infrastructure. The main recommendation is that in order to provide the necessary financial means for railway infrastructure, the owners – mostly Member States – and the operators of the infrastructure should conclude multi-year agreements. This should be an impetus for the Member States to consider in the future the advantages of multi-year financing earmarked for maintaining the railway structure.

The Council of Ministers also discussed and adopted a general approach regarding the first Green Paper on the promotion of clean and energy-efficient road transport vehicles. The proposal for a Directive requires from public authorities and providers of public passenger road transport that in purchasing vehicles, they take into account the cost of living and the energy consumption ratio, CO2 emissions and other pollutants. The proposal is based on commitments undertaken by the European Council in March 2007 regarding market and industry promotion by introducing clean and energy-efficient vehicles. The Directive will, in particular, help raise awareness about the external costs connected with purchasing public road transport vehicles. On the one hand, this will be an example to citizens to use clean and energy efficient vehicles and, on the other hand, a signal to promote technology development and production of a more environmentally friendly means of transport

In addition, the Council of Ministers conferred a mandate to open negotiations with Australia and New Zealand on the conclusion of comprehensive agreements on air traffic, aiming at closer cooperation between the Community and these two countries. The mandate conferred today includes, for the first time in history, a stronger commitment by this sector to environmental issues; it also enhances cooperation between the EU and the third countries in the area of greenhouse gas emissions.


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Date: 13.06.2008