EUROPEAN TRAVEL POLICY, 17 July 2002

EUROPEAN TRAVEL POLICY – INSTANT NEWS ON TRAVEL POLICY IN EUROPE

EU REVIEWS AEROSPACE INDUSTRY PROSPECTS

EUROPEAN TRAVEL POLICY, 17 July 2002

The EU should become the policy-maker and regulator in all areas of civil aviation, speaking as the united voice of member states in international bodies and ultimately becoming a full member of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, together with member states. And a master plan for air traffic management should be developed under the EU’s Single Sky initiative.

That is one of the key political recommendations from a high-level European advisory group on aerospace, which has concluded that a competitive aerospace industry is essential to provide the means and capabilities needed to match Europe’s economic ambitions and its policy aims. In presenting its report, "Strategic Aerospace Review for the 21st Century (STAR 21)" to the President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, yesterday, the group also said a level playing field is needed to allow fair competition in world markets, which means that US "Buy American" rules should be relaxed, there should be convergence in export control procedures on products with US components, and reciprocal market access and international co-operation programmes should help build new trading relationships.

Other key recommendations include improving the operating environment for the EU industry by stimulating research: Euro 100 billion is needed from public and private sources over the next 20 years, it predicts. A coherent structure for defence and security equipment is needed in Europe, it urges, and military requirements should be harmonised and procurement budgets planned jointly. And a consolidated European space policy with adequate funding is needed. The Galileo satellite positioning system and the EU’s environmental and security satellite monitoring projects should be mobilised as quickly as possible.

Europe’s aerospace sector is in a critical phase. A long-term policy approach is required since it is an industry which must operate with a 20-30 year perspective. The world market is intensely competitive and if Europe is to continue as a flourishing centre of excellence for aerospace, then the appropriate policy decisions must be taken rapidly.

Major restructuring has been undertaken in recent years, so the industry is now organised on a European scale, but policy evolution has not kept pace with these structural changes, the report says. The Group was set up in 2001 to analyse the state of the industry and assess its longer-term policy needs. Its membership included five European Commissioners, Javier Solana (the EU High Representative), Members of the European Parliament, and leading industrialists – Jean-Paul Béchat (SNECMA, and President of the European Association of Aerospace Industries AECMA), Manfred Bischoff (EADS), Sir Richard Evans (BAE Systems), Jean-Luc Lagardère (EADS), Alberto Lina (Finmeccanica), Denis Ranque (THALES) and Sir Ralph Robins (Rolls-Royce). Romano Prodi, President of the European Commission, said as he formally received the report that the Commission "will be considering the policy implications in the coming months."

EU BOOST FOR AEROSPACE BUSINESS START-UPS

EUROPEAN TRAVEL POLICY, 17 July 2002

Europe’s first network of space incubators, ESINET, was launched today. It will link national and regional space incubators across EU member states, as well as in the EU candidate countries, and accelerate the creation of new businesses, providing start-ups with support tools including seed capital for a fixed-term period, office facilities, consulting services and management advice. A joint exercise between the EU and the European Space Agency, it will benefit from the Euro 1.07 billion allocated to aerospace research and policy in the EU’s new 2002-2006 research programme. With 33,000 employees and an annual turnover of Euro 5,5 billion, the space sector is seen by the EU as a huge opportunity for smaller firms, and for EU economic growth.

GREEN LIGHT FOR UK AID TO NETWORK RAIL

EUROPEAN TRAVEL POLICY, 17 July 2002

UK government plans for a Euro 37.5 billion financial package for Network Rail – which will take over the operation and management of the mainline rail network in Great Britain – have been given the green light by the European Commission.. The funding will enable Railtrack plc, under the ownership of Network Rail, to be brought out of administration and put an end to the uncertainty regarding the future of the British rail network since Railtrack plc was put under administration in October 2001.

Network Rail is a newly established company, which will assume the responsibility of operating and maintaining the main rail infrastructure network in Great Britain on a not-for-profit basis. The aim is to ensure that the rail network operates in a safe, reliable, and efficient way for the long term interest of the public. The European Commission says it hopes that the new organisation will restore public trust in the rail sector. Its first task will be to raise the finances necessary to take over and run the rail infrastructure network, through borrowings on the commercial market. Taking into account the financial failure of its predecessor, Railtrack plc, the UK government will provide Network Rail with substantial funding so that potential lenders can be confident that any money lent will be repaid.

FRENCH MEDITERRANEAN SHIPPING CAN RECEIVE AID, EU RULES

EUROPEAN TRAVEL POLICY, 17 July 2002

The European Commission has authorised a Euro 22.5 million French state loan as aid to rescue the Société nationale maritime Corse-Mé diterranée, which operates the public maritime transport service between Marseille and Corsica. It also operates other lines from France and Italy to Corsica and North Africa. The loan is intended to keep SNCM in business until it is restructured under the "industrial plan", which was notified in February to the Commission, where it is still under study. SNCM must repay the loan in one year, and the interest rate is the reference rate published by the Commission.

ITALIANS CAN AID SCRAPPING OF SINGLE HULL OIL TANKERS, SAYS EU

EUROPEAN TRAVEL POLICY, 17 July 2002

An Italian aid scheme granting an incentive to shipowners for the elimination of single hull crude oil or oil and chemical tankers over 20 years of age has been authorised by the European Commission. It says the proposed aid will help implement EU maritime safety legislation and improve safety standards. Under the scheme, shipowners who demolish old tankers of less than 5,000 dead weight tonnes will benefit from a maximum aid of just under Euro 4 million.

EU FROWNS ON AID TO DUTCH CONTAINER TERMINAL

EUROPEAN TRAVEL POLICY, 17 July 2002

The European Commission is to investigate a Euro 5 million Dutch regional investment subsidy which would promote the transport of waste on inland waterways through the construction of a waste container terminal at for Huisvuilcentrale Noord-Holland’s incineration plant. The Commission says it needs to analyse a possible distortion of competition between inland waterway terminals as well as the impact of the subsidy on the waste management market.

EU AIMS TO CUT CARMAKERS’ TIES TO SHOWROOMS

EUROPEAN TRAVEL POLICY, 17 July 2002

Today the European Commission adopted its long-awaited changes to the competition rules for the motor vehicle sector. It says it is putting right the competition problems identified, and will increase competition and bring tangible benefits to European consumers for both vehicle sales and servicing. New distribution techniques, such as Internet sales, will be allowed, with more competition between dealers, easier cross-border purchases of new vehicles, and greater price competition. Consumers will find it easier to compare cars and services offered by dealers, and owners will have easier access to after-sales servicing, potentially at lower prices. The new regulation comes into force on 1 October 2002, with a one-year transition period for existing contracts and longer transition period until 30 September 2005 for phasing-out of rules the governing the location of showrooms.

Under the new regime, car manufacturers will be able to choose exclusive distribution, where each dealer approved by the manufacturer is allocated a sales territory but is free to sell to operators that are not members of the official network set up by the manufacturer. They may also choose selective distribution, where dealers are also selected according to a set of criteria but are not allocated a sales territory and are not allowed to sell to operators that are not members of the official network set up by the manufacturer. The new regulation also gives retailers a genuine choice as to whether they sell more than one brand. Carmakers may only impose a requirement to display their cars in brand specific areas within the showroom.

And the new regulation not only makes shopping abroad easier, but also contains measures to allow those dealers who wish to sell to consumers in other areas of the European Union to be more pro-active. Dealers in a selective distribution system may engage in active sales – in other words, they may place advertisements in other areas, and address mail shots and personalised e-mails to consumers located anywhere in the European Union. Also, the new regulation allows dealers to choose whether they wish to carry out repairs themselves, or sub-contract them to another authorised member of the manufacturer’s network, be it another "integrated dealer/repairer" or a repair-only outlet. And, providing they meet the quality standards set by a manufacturer, both independent repairers and today’s car dealers may become authorised repairers within that manufacturer’s network, without being obliged to sell new cars. The regulation also aims to give consumers a choice as to which spare parts are used to repair their vehicle; clauses by which a carmaker seeks to prevent repairers from obtaining spare parts from other sources or which restrict the right of authorised repairers to use spare parts which match the quality of original spare parts will not be allowed by the new block exemption.

Euro-MP Graham Watson, European Liberal Democrat leader, was quick to praise the proposals: "The car market in Europe has been protected from the rigours of competition for far too long," he said today. "This is particularly welcome news for consumers." But he said he was disappointed the European Commission had "succumbed to intense lobbying from the car industry" and delayed the opening up of dealerships in other countries until 2005, two years later than originally proposed.

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