Monday

24th Sep 2018

Ministers greenlight liberalisation of cross-border railways

EU transport ministers have hammered out a proposal to boost competition in cross-border rail services, despite protests of rail unions against the move.

Under the rules agreed on Monday (5 December), member states should prepare the ground for liberalisation of the sector in 2010.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The decision provides for national railway companies to offer their services in another member state, carrying passengers from one station to another in that same foreign country.

France, Belgium and Hungary initially opposed the move, due to their huge state subsidies to national services, which some fear could be threatened by the international competition, but only Budapest eventually voted against the proposal.

British transport secretary Alistair Darling argued the EU rules would secure that present national arrangements concerning the public obligations to provide local services would not be "unduly disrupted."

"We will strike the right balance between boosting competition in railway transport and the need to preserve public services," commented the EU transport commissioner Jacques Barrot.

But rail service workers gathered in Brussels during the ministers' meeting argued the opposite.

"Competition between economically unequal companies will result in threats to the existence of the railways," stated the European Transport Workers Federation.

The group argues the decision will negatively affect mainly the new member states and geographically small countries, as they will find that the continued existence of their railway company will come under serious threat.

On top of this, the unions are concerned the move could endanger the rail workers' lobby position in face of their national governments, which they fear could result in worse social conditions, and compromises on quality and safety of the services.

The EU ministers on Monday also adopted a proposal to boost international rail passengers' rights, agreeing to secure cash refund for delays or cancellations of travellers' journey.

Finally, they gave a green light to some minimum common rules for train drivers across Europe.

The European Parliement had earlier adopted a more ambitious version of most proposals included in the so called "Third Railway package".

Parliament and member states will have to find a compromise in the coming months.

EU's €23bn for high-speed rail had 'low added value'

Court of Auditors says in critical report that Europe does not have a high-speed rail 'network', "only a patchwork of national high-speed lines, planned and built by the member states in isolation".

Airbnb agrees to clarify pricing for EU

The justice commissioner says the accommodation-rental website will better inform users about prices, and about the legal status of their 'hosts'. Facebook, however, could face sanctions if it doesn't comply with EU rules.

'Every group split' ahead of EU copyright vote

Political groups in the European Parliament are split about how to vote for a directive that would reform the EU's copyright regime - amid warnings that freedom of expression and creators' rights are at risk.

Airbnb agrees to clarify pricing for EU

The justice commissioner says the accommodation-rental website will better inform users about prices, and about the legal status of their 'hosts'. Facebook, however, could face sanctions if it doesn't comply with EU rules.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK
  2. Wake-up call on European Day Against Islamophobia
  3. Sound of discord at 'Sound of Music' Salzburg summit
  4. Salzburg summit presses for bigger Frontex mandate
  5. UK's post-Brexit plan 'will not work', EU says
  6. Airbnb agrees to clarify pricing for EU
  7. Libya keeps coast guards rejected by the EU
  8. EU divisions on menu at Salzburg dinner

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us