Opinion Factsheet  

A negyedik vasúti csomag

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Opinion Number: CDR 27/2013
Rapporteur: 
Commission: COTER
Status: Adopted
Date: 08/10/2013
 
welcomes the European Commission's willingness to complete the regulatory framework needed to achieve a single European railway area;
does not view liberalisation as an end in itself: the purpose should be to improve the range and quality of services. The opening up to competition cannot be assessed without also taking investment in infrastructure, real market operating conditions and the technical aspects of interoperability into consideration;
points out that the principle of free administration enables local authorities to decide how they want to organise their public transport services; sees the introduction of ceilings for direct award which are too low as a dramatic limitation of the principle of local and regional authority free administration;
welcomes the stronger role for infrastructure managers and the introduction of coordination committees that will supervise the activity of the reinforced infrastructure managers and ensure the efficiency of the entire system. Local authorities must be automatically involved, not only "if appropriate";
urges that a European network of infrastructure managers, which is crucial to the operation of a single European railway area and to cross-border coordination, be set up rapidly;
• supports a stronger role for the European Railway Agency with the aim of supporting technical interoperability and harmonisation of "safety" procedures, in order to avoid the major problems resulting from divergences between 26 national authorities.

European Parliament

Markus Ferber (DE/EPP), member of the EP TRAN committee and EPP shadow rapporteur on the Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council repealing Regulation (EEC) 1192/69 of the Council on common rules for the normalisation of the accounts of railway undertakings, sent a letter dated 19 November 2013 to the COTER chair, answering to the letter that was sent to him in the context of the follow-up to the opinion after its adoption in Plenary session. In this letter Mr Ferber welcomed the main political messages of the CoR opinion as a very good input for the work of the TRAN committee, and highlighted a number of aspects on which he is in line with the position of the CoR opinion (in particular the improvement of services as a main objective, the strengthened role of infrastructure managers, and the introduction of coordination committees).

On 17 December 2013, the EP TRAN committee adopted the draft reports on the six legislative proposals contained in the 4th railway package and mandated the Parliament negotiating team with a view to starting negotiations with the Council.

The legislative resolutions on these six legislative proposals were adopted by the European Parliament's Plenary at its session on 26 February 2014.

The following CoR recommendations have been fully or partially taken on board by both TRAN committee and EP Plenary:

Concerning the Public service obligations Regulation(COM(2013) 28 final):

The application of the reciprocity principle to third-country businesses that wish to take part in tenders within the Union (CoR AM 1 and CoR AM 9);
The clarification of the definition of competent local authorities, including those working at cross-border-level (CoR AM 4);
The clarification of the scope of public service obligations, which could also combine profitable and unprofitable routes (CoR AM 5);
The obligation for operators that perform public service contracts to provide data to the competent authorities (CoR AM 8);
A threshold of 500.000 km for the direct awarding of public service contracts for public transport by rail (AM 10);
The option for competent authorities to directly award public service contracts in derogation from Article 4(3) (AM 12);
The possibilities for competent authorities to comply with the provisions on rolling stock (AM 13).

Concerning Market opening and governance Directive(COM(2013) 29 final):

The option for Member States to choose between an integrated and a separated model, also after the entry of the Directive (CoR AM 18);
Cross-border cooperation as an objective of the European Network of Infrastructure Managers (CoR AM 24);
An obligation for Member States to establish common information and ticketing schemes ("shall" instead of "may") (CoR AM 28).

Concerning the technical pillar:

The possibility to appeal against a failure of the Agency to respond within the prescribed time limits (CoR AM 34);
A specification of the procedures and deadlines applied by the Board of Appeal (CoR AM 35);
The specification of transition periods concerning responsibility of the ERA and the Member States' authorities for certification and authorisation (CoR AM 36).

Council

The Council started its discussion on the Fourth Railway Package with an orientation debate in March 2013, where it agreed to focus on the technical pillar before moving to the other components. It subsequently adopted on 10 June 2013 a general approach on the recast of the interoperability directive, on 10 October 2013 a general approach on the recast of the safety directive, and, on 14 March 2014, a general approach on the European Union Agency for Railways. The texts of the tree general approaches, together with some relevant European Parliament amendments voted at first reading in February 2014, were finally confirmed in a political agreement on the technical pillar, which was adopted the Transport Council of 5 June 2014. The key element of the Council position is to set up a dual system of vehicle authorisations and safety certifications, with the ERA acting as a one-stop-shop for authorising vehicles intended for cross-border operations and for issuing safety certificates to railway undertakings involved in cross-border traffic. For vehicles and railway undertakings involved in national transport only, there will be a choice between submitting a request for authorisation or certification to the Agency or to the national safety authority. This dual approach was also suggested by the CoR opinion, which supported a stronger role for the European Railway Agency as a one-stop shop for decisions on vehicles and safety certificates for railway companies, whilst allowing the option of authorising vehicles that are only to be used within a country by national safety authorities.

The following CoR recommendation for legislative amendments has been taken on board in the Council's political agreement on the technical pillar:

The possibility to appeal in the event that the European Railway Agency fails to act within the prescribed time limits (CoR AM 34).

Concerning the governance pillar, a first policy debate took place in the Transport Council of 8 October 2014. On 3 December 2014, the Council adopted a general approach on the proposal for a Regulation repealing Regulation (EEC) No 1192/69 on common rules for the normalisation of the accounts of railway undertakings (COM(2013) 26 final). The council considers that the proposal to repeal Regulation (EEC) 1192/69 is justified and that there is no reason to postpone the repeal. This dossier was not dealt with in the CoR opinion. The Ministers discussed also the progress on the other two proposals of the governance pillar (PSO Regulation and the Governance Directive). This discussion continued in the TTE Council on 13 March 2015 as well as on 11 June 2015, when the Latvian Presidency presented a progress report on the matter. On 8 October 2015, the Council agreed on a general approach on the two legislative proposals concerning the liberalisation of domestic rail passenger services and the governance of railway infrastructure, which allows the Presidency to start the negotiations with the European Parliament.

The general approach on the Public service obligation (PSO) regulation foresees competitive tendering as the main rule for awarding public service contracts. However, a number of exceptions to this rule would allow public service contracts to be awarded directly, in particular in case of small markets and with regard to the need to ensure the long-term continuity of public rail transport services. With regard to the CoR opinion, the most important point of the Council position is that the competent local authorities can decide to provide public passenger transport services themselves or to award public service contracts directly to a legally distinct entity over which they exercise control, which was one of the key policy messages of the CoR. The Council proposal also offers member states' authorities with the possibility to opt for direct award if justified by the structure and geographical characteristics of the market and network and if it would improve the quality of services and/or cost-efficiency. Direct award would also be possible for small contracts and in exceptional circumstances.

The following CoR recommendation for legislative amendments have been fully or partially taken on board in the general agreement on the PSO regulation:

A threshold of 500.000 km for the direct awarding of public service contracts for public transport by rail (AM 10).

Concerning the Governance directive, the Council took the position that member states' organizational structures are already largely compatible with the proposal's objectives, which is compatible with the position of the CoR opinion, which outlined that Member States should enjoy a certain amount of freedom to organize and develop their rail system according to the separation model or the integrated undertakings model.

The following CoR recommendation for legislative amendment has been partially taken on board in the general agreement on the Governance directive:

Exclusion of vertically integrated undertakings that manage infrastructures of less than 150 km or that provide exclusively local rail services from the rules om n the independence of the infrastructure manager (AM 29).

Final texts

On 17 June 2015 the European Parliament and the Council reached a trilogue agreement on the technical pillar of the fourth railway package, which was approved in Coreper on 30 June 2015 and in EP TRAN committee on 10 November 2015. On this basis, the Council published its official first reading position on 15 December 2015. Following the approval of the Council position at 1st reading by the European Parliament in 2nd reading on 28 April 2016, the final acts under the technical pillar were signed on 11 May 2016 and published in the Official Journal on 26 May 2016:

Regulation (EU) 2016/796 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2016 on the European Union Agency for Railways and repealing Regulation (EC) No 881/2004 (OJ L 138, 26.5.2016, p. 1–43)
Directive (EU) 2016/797 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2016 on the interoperability of the rail system within the European Union (OJ L 138, 26.5.2016, p. 44–101)
Directive (EU) 2016/798 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2016 on railway safety (OJ L 138, 26.5.2016, p. 102–149)

The key element of the new provisions under the technical pillar is to set up a dual system of vehicle authorisations and safety certifications, with the ERA acting as a one-stop-shop for authorising vehicles intended for cross-border operations and for issuing safety certificates to railway undertakings involved in cross-border traffic. For vehicles and railway undertakings involved in national transport only, applicants can choose between submitting a request for authorisation or certification to the Agency or to the national safety authority. This dual approach was also suggested by the CoR opinion, which supported a stronger role for the European Railway Agency as a one-stop shop for decisions on vehicles and safety certificates for railway companies, whilst allowing the option of authorising vehicles that are only to be used within a country by national safety authorities (point 36 of the opinion).

Concerning the three legislative proposals under the governance pillar, a trilogue agreement between the European Parliament and the Council was reached on 19 April 2016 and subsequently endorsed by Coreper on 27 April 2016 and by the EP TRAN committee on 12 July 2016. On this basis, the Council adopted its position at first reading on these three dossiers on 17 October 2016. Following the adoption of the respective recommendations by the EP TRAN committee on 5 December 2016, the European Parliament approved at second reading the Council positions at first reading without any amendment on 14 December 2016. The final texts were signed by the President of the European Parliament and the President of the Council on the same day and published in the Official Journal on 23 December 2016:

Regulation (EU) 2016/2337 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 December 2016 repealing Regulation (EEC) No 1192/69 of the Council on common rules for the normalisation of the accounts of railway undertakings (OJ L 354, 23.12.2016, p. 20–21)
Regulation (EU) 2016/2338 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 December 2016 amending Regulation (EC) No 1370/2007 concerning the opening of the market for domestic passenger transport services by rail (OJ L 354, 23.12.2016, p. 22–31)
Directive (EU) 2016/2370 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 December 2016 amending Directive 2012/34/EU as regards the opening of the market for domestic passenger transport services by rail and the governance of the railway infrastructure (OJ L 352, 23.12.2016, p. 1–17)

One of the key political messages of the CoR opinion was to underline the principle of free administration, which enables local authorities to decide how they want to organise their public transport services. In this regard, the CoR insisted that Article 5.2 of the existing Regulation (EC) 1370/2007 must not be called into question (Point 7 of the opinion). The final text of the PSO-Regulation (Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 1370/2007 concerning the opening of the market for domestic passenger transport services by rail) keeps this core provision that competent local authorities can decide to provide public passenger transport services themselves or to award public service contracts directly to a legally distinct entity over which they exercise control.

In the same point (point 7), the CoR opinion saw the ceilings for direct award that had been proposed by the European Commission as too low and as a dramatic limitation of the principle of local and regional authority free administration. In this respect, it suggested in its recommendation for legislative amendments a higher ceiling of 500.000 km instead of 150.00 km for the direct awarding of public service contracts for public transport by rail. This higher ceiling, which had also been taken up by both the European Parliament and the Council, was also introduced in the final text.

Concerning the Governance directive, the CoR opinion took the position that once an open and level playing field for European rail undertakings and the absence of distortion of competition on the market are strictly ensured, Member States should enjoy a certain amount of freedom to organize and develop their rail system according to the separation model or the integrated undertakings model (point 22). The final text of the Governance directive (Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2012/34/EU as regards the opening of the market for domestic passenger transport services by rail and the governance of the railway infrastructure) stipulates that Member States should be free to choose between different organisational models, ranging from full structural separation to vertical integration, subject to appropriate safeguards to ensure the impartiality of the infrastructure manager as regards the essential functions, traffic management and maintenance planning, which is in line with the CoR position.

A comparison between the CoR opinion and the final texts shows that a number of CoR recommendations for legislative amendments have been at least partially taken on board:

PSO-Regulation

The clarification that cost-covering services could be combined with non-cost-covering services (AM 5);
The obligation for operators that perform public service contracts to provide competent authorities with essential information for the award of public service contracts (AM 8);
An upper limit of 500.000 km instead of 150.000 km for the direct awarding of public service contracts for public passenger transport services by rail (AM 10);
The option for competent authorities to directly award public service contracts for public passenger transport services by rail directly in certain cases (AM 12);
The inclusion of cooperation with other competent authorities in order to create a larger pool of rolling stock to the measures to ensure effective and non-discriminatory access to rolling stock (AM 13).

Governance Directive:

Tackling cross-border bottlenecks as one of the objectives of the European Network of Infrastructure Managers (CoR AM 24).

ERA-Regulation:

The possibility to appeal against a failure of the Agency to act within the applicable time limits (CoR AM 34);
A specification of the procedures and deadlines applied by the Board of Appeal (CoR AM 35).

Le Comité des régions

- accueille favorablement la volonté de la Commission européenne de compléter le cadre réglementaire nécessaire à l'avènement d'un espace ferroviaire unique;

- considère que la libéralisation n'est pas une fin en soi, l'objectif devant être l'amélioration de l'offre et de la qualité des services. L'ouverture à la concurrence ne peut être appréciée sans considérer aussi les investissements dans les infrastructures, les conditions effectives de fonctionnement du marché ou encore les aspects techniques d'interopérabilité;

- rappelle que le principe de libre administration permet aux autorités locales de choisir comment elles souhaitent organiser leurs services de transport public; estime toutefois que la fixation de plafonds trop bas pour les adjudications directes constitue une limitation grave du principe de libre administration des collectivités locales;

- se félicite du renforcement du rôle du gestionnaire d'infrastructure et de la mise en place de comités de coordination qui surveilleront les activités de ce gestionnaire d'infrastructure renforcé et veilleront à l'efficacité de l'ensemble du système. Les autorités locales devront y être systématiquement associées et non simplement "le cas échéant";

- encourage la mise en place rapide d'un réseau européen de gestionnaires d'infrastructure indispensable au fonctionnement d'un espace ferroviaire unique européen et à la coordination transfrontière;

- est favorable au renforcement du rôle de l'Agence ferroviaire européenne qui vise notamment à soutenir l'interopérabilité technique et l'harmonisation des procédures "sécurité" pour éviter les problèmes importants créés par les divergences entre 26 autorités nationales.

Importance

High
Medium
Low
 

Governance pillar: Publication of legal acts in the Official Journal

The three dossiers under the governance pillar were published in the Official Journal:

  • Regulation (EU) 2016/2337 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 December 2016 repealing Regulation (EEC) No 1192/69 of the Council on common rules for the normalisation of the accounts of railway undertakings (OJ L 354, 23.12.2016, p. 20–21);
  • Regulation (EU) 2016/2338 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 December 2016 amending Regulation (EC) No 1370/2007 concerning the opening of the market for domestic passenger transport services by rail (OJ L 354, 23.12.2016, p. 22–31);
  • Directive (EU) 2016/2370 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 December 2016 amending Directive 2012/34/EU as regards the opening of the market for domestic passenger transport services by rail and the governance of the railway infrastructure (OJ L 352, 23.12.2016, p. 1–17).

 
23 Dec
 

Governance pillar: Adoption in EP Plenary

The European Parliament adopted at second reading its legislative resolutions on the three dossiers under the governance pillar. For all three dossiers, the Parliament approved the Council position at first reading without amendments.

 
14 Dec
 

Governance pillar: Signature of final acts

The three final acts under the governance pillar were signed by the President of the European Parliament and by the President of the Council.

 
14 Dec
 

Governance pillar: Adoption in EP TRAN commitee

The TRAN committee adopted the draft recommendations for second reading for the three legislative dossiers under the governace pillar.

 
05 Dec
 

Governance pillar: Adoption of Council position at first reading

The Council adopted its positions at first reading with a view to the adoption of:

  • a Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 1370/2007 concerning the opening of the market for domestic passenger transport services by rail;
  • a Regulation repealing Regulation (EEC) No 1192/69 of the Council on common rules for the normalisation of the accounts of railway undertakings;
  • a Directive amending Directive 2012/34/EU as regards the opening of the market for domestic passenger transport services by rail and the governance of the railway infrastructure.

 
17 Oct
 

EP TRAN committee: Endorsement of trilogue agreement

The EP TRAN committee endorsed the trilogue agreement of 19 April 2016 on the governance pillar.

 
11 Jul
 

Technical pillar: Publication of legal acts in the Official Journal

The legal acts under the technical pillar were published in the Official Journal on 26 May 2016. They will enter into force on 15 June 2016:

  • Regulation (EU) 2016/796 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2016 on the European Union Agency for Railways and repealing Regulation (EC) No 881/2004 (OJ L 138, 26.5.2016, p. 1–43)
  • Directive (EU) 2016/797 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2016 on the interoperability of the rail system within the European Union (OJ L 138, 26.5.2016, p. 44–101)
  • Directive (EU) 2016/798 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2016 on railway safety (OJ L 138, 26.5.2016, p. 102–149)

 
26 May
 

European Parliament and Council: Signature of final acts on the technical pillar

The final Acts on the technical pillar were signed on 11 May 2016 and published in the Official Journal on 26 May 2016. The three legal acts entered into force on the twentieth day following that of their publication in the Official Journal, hence on 15 June 2016.

 
11 May
 

European Parliament: 2nd reading on technical pillar

The European Parliament approved in second reading the Council position on the technical pillar.

 
28 Apr
 

Council: Endorsement of trilogue agreement

The Council endorsed the trilogue agreement of 19 April 2016 on the governance pillar.

 
28 Apr
 

Trilogue agreement on governance pillar

A trilogue agreement between the European Parliament and the Council on the three legislative proposals of the governance pillar was reached.

 
19 Apr
 

EP TRAN committee: Recommendation for second reading on technical pillar

EP TRAN committee: Adoption of the recommendation for second reading on the Council's position at 1st reading on the 4th Railway Package Technical Pillar.

 
15 Mar
 

Council

The Council published its offical first reading position on the technical pillar of the Fourth Railway Package.

 
15 Dec
 

European Parliament

Approval of the trilogue agreement on the technical pillar in TRAN committee.

 
09 Nov
 

Council

General approach in the Council on the two proposals to liberalise domestic rail passenger services and strengthen the governance of railway infrastructure.

 
07 Oct
 

Council

Approval of the trilogue agreement on the technical pillar in Coreper.

 
29 Jun
 

European Parliament

The European Parliament and the Council reached a provisional agreement on the three technical proposals.

 
16 Jun
 

Council

The TTE Council took stock of governance and market opening proposals under the 4th railway package.

 
10 Jun
 

Council

Policy debate in TTE Council on the two legislative proposals under the governance pillar (PSO Regulation and Governace Directive)

 
12 Mar
 

Council

Policy debate on the governance pillar takes place at TTE Council.

 
07 Oct
 

Rapporteur's activities

Article by the rapporteur in the French magazine Contexte on « Loi Ferroviaire, un rendez-vous manqué avec l’Europe ? »

 
16 Jun
 

Council

Council adopts political agreement on the technical pillar.

 
04 Jun
 

Rapporteur's activities

Participation of the rapporteur as speaker in the final conference of the EPTA project

 
27 May
 

European Parliament

The European Parliament adopted legislative resolutions on all six legislative proposals contained in the Fourth Railway Package

 
25 Feb
 

Rapporteur's activities

Intervention of the CoR rapporteur in EP TRAN committee meeting

 
13 Oct
 

CoR Plenary Session

Adoption of the CoR opinion on "4th railway package" in CoR Plenary Session

 
07 Oct
 

Rapporteur's activities

Participation of the rapporteur as speaker in an EESC event on "Public services and railways: How can competition benefit passengers?"

 
02 Sep
 

CoR Commission activity

First discussion and adoption of the draft opinion in COTER

 
10 Jul
 

CoR Commission activity

Article by Pascal Mangin in The Parliament "The involvement of regions is crucial to the success of the fourth EU railway package"

 
20 Jun
 

Rapporteur's activities

Bilateral meetings of the rapporteur and his expert with Mathieu Grosch (BE/EPP), EP rapporteur on the PSO-Regulation and Mr Saïd El Khadraoui (BE/S&D), EP rapporteur on Market opening and governance.

 
29 May
 

CoR Commission activity

Exchange of views in COTER commission

 
06 May
 

CoR Commission activity

Round table discussion in COTER commission meeting with the participation of the CoR rapporteur and:Mr Georges Bach (LU/EPP), Member of the EP TRAN committeeMr Jean-Eric-Paquet, Director, DG MOVEMr Jürgen Pucher, METIS GmbH, author of the CoR study on the 4th railway packageMr Libor Lochman, executive director of Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER)Mrs Monika Heiming, executive director of European Rail Infrastructure Managers (EIM)Mr Martin Husmann, Member of the Presidium of BAG-SPNV (German association of passenger rail authorities and lead partner of INTER-Regio-Rail)

 
25 Feb
 

Rapporteur's activities

Meeting of the rapporteur and his expert with EP TRAN secretariat (Mr Ditthard)

 
31 Jan
 

Rapporteur's activities

Meeting of the rapporteur and his expert with DG MOVE B.2 (Mrs Prout)

 
30 Jan
 

CoR Commission activity

 
 

COTER commission appointed Mr. Mangin as rapporteur of the opinion on "4th railway package"

 
06 Dec