Mark’s EU Week for Transport 
This week, the European Parliament begins its hearings for the European Commissioner-designate in what is bound to be a series of lively affairs as the European Parliament seeks to shape both the look and programme of the future European Commission. 

Meanwhile, the TRAN Committee last week voted to open into inter-institutional negotiations on 14 of 16 work in progress files. Some of these files included ‘Common rules for the allocation of slots at European Union airports’, ‘Implementation of the Single European Sky’, ‘Use of vehicles hired without drivers for the carriage of goods by road’, ‘Charging of heavy goods vehicles for the use of certain infrastructures’, and ‘Rail passengers’ rights and obligations’. 

In a month from now, the mandate of the current European Commission will end and the new European Commission will take office. After years of increased legislative ambition, it looks as though the next European Commission will continue in the same vein. 

This week’s song of the week, is The Right Profile by The Clash.

1. TRAN Committee update
Last week, the TRAN Committee met and voted on several files. They voted 45 to 2 to commence negotiations with the Council on the new rules for bus and coach services, they also voted to begin negotiations with the Council on revision to rail passenger rights Regulation and they votesd 47-0 to reopen negotiations with the Council on the revision to the air passenger rights Regulation 261 of 2004. 

2. Rovana Plumb rejected over conflicts of interest
Last week, the JURI Committee of the European Parliament said that Rovana Plumb had conflicts of interest that would result in her being unable to carry out her duty as a European Commissioner. Today, in a new vote, the committee has rejected her as a nominee ahead of her planned hearing with the TRAN Committee this week. Romania will now need to propose a new Commissioner candidate and, for now, there is no Transport Commissioner-designate. What this means is that the hearing for the eventual Transport Commissioner-designate will be postponed until a new candidate has been selected. In the meantime, however, there are other hearings that should be of interest to transport stakeholders. These are the hearings of Virginijus Sinkevicius, Environment and Oceans Commissioner-designate and Frans Timmermans, Vice President for a European Green Deal and Climate Commissioner-designate. Sinkevicius will have his hearing with the ENVI Committee on the afternoon of Thursday, October 3rd, and Timmermans will have his hearing with the ENVI Committee on the evening of Tuesday October, 8th. 

3UKTiE Coordinator Mark Watts on the Belt and Road Initiative
UKTiE Coordinator Mark Watts has a new blog and vlog this month on China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the big debate has begun over how Europe should respond. How should Europe’s port and maritime industries respond? Mark concludes that we should enthusiastically welcome the Maritime Silk Road, which has the potential to vastly improve world trade flows, in all directions. But welcome it with an ‘eyes wide open’ approach. It must not just be mutually advantageous; it must be seen to be so. If it isn’t, it simply won’t work.

4. UKTiE has also put together the latest timetable for Brexit. We will keep this up to date as the process develops:

  • 29 March 2017 – A50 triggered.
  • 5 April 2017 – European Parliament adopted Brexit guidelines.
  • 22 May 2017 – Brexit negotiating directives approved by Council.
  • 19 June 2017 –  Negotiations formally began.
  • 23 March 2018– European Council agreed guidelines on the future trading relationship.
  • 23-26 May 2019 – European Parliament election.
  • 31 October 2019 – The UK will formally leave the EU. (tbc)
  • 01 November 2019 – Start of new European Commission mandate. (tbc)
  • 31 December 2020 – End of Transition Period (tbc).
Mark Watts
UK transport in Europe (UKTiE)
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