The European Commission has today (19 May 2011) asked Belgium, Bulgaria, Ireland, Greece, France, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Austria, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia to set up appropriate procedures for improving the safety of the trans-European road network in accordance with their obligations under European Union law. These procedures include road safety impact assessments, road safety audits and safety rankings of the network. The request takes the form of “a reasoned opinion” under EU infringement procedures. If the Member States fail to inform the Commission within two months of measures taken to ensure compliance with EU law, the Commission could refer the cases to the EU Court of Justice.
The EU rules
Directive 2008/96/EC1 requires road safety impact assessments to be carried out to demonstrate the implications on road safety of different planning alternatives of an infrastructure project and as such they should play an important role when routes are being selected. In a further step, road safety audits are prescribed to identify, in a detailed way, unsafe features of a road infrastructure project. Finally, rules and procedures on safety management for once the road is built are set out in the Directive. Following these three steps is meant to increase safety of road infrastructures on the trans-European road network.
The reason for today’s action
The Commission has decided to act against the eleven Member States because they have not fully transposed the Directive into national law adopted in 2008, although they were required to do so by 19 December 2010.
The practical effect of non-implementation
Failure to set up the appropriate procedures for safety impact assessments and audits could affect the safety of road infrastructure within the trans-European road network, thus posing a potential risk to drivers and passengers using the roads.
For EU infringement procedures, see MEMO/11/312
Directive 2008/96/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on road infrastructure safety management (OJ L 319, 29.11.2008, p. 59)
Source – European Commission.