EUROPEAN TRAVEL POLICY, 9 September 2002

EUROPEAN TRAVEL POLICY – INSTANT NEWS ON TRAVEL POLICY IN EUROPE

TRAVEL SECTOR INITIATIVES IN EU REVIEW OF SEPTEMBER 11 RESPONSES

EUROPEAN TRAVEL POLICY, 9 September 2002

Reviewing the action it has taken over the last year in response to the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, the EU has issued a comprehensive list of initiatives relating to the fight against terrorism, improved security of its citizens, and contributions to better understanding between civilisations. And alongside the closer transatlantic co-operation, the police and judicial co-operation, and the diplomatic efforts listed, the EU also focuses on the travel sector. "Air transport security has been improved with Europe-wide measures to prevent future terrorist attacks and the air transport industry has been supported", it says.

"The air transport sector was the hardest hit by the consequences of the 11 September", says the EU review. "Over the last twelve months, the European Commission has continuously acted to deal with the security, commercial and financial consequences of the attacks for the sector. New proposals have been put forward to support the industry in areas such as insurance, unfair competition and financial compensations. New initiatives have also been launched to increase security and prevent terrorist acts." The Commission made concrete proposals for enhanced air security rules and outlined areas of action in air transport insurance, state aid management, slots, capacity co-ordination and third country relations, it points out.

On the prevention of illegal acts threatening security, notably through the International Civil Aviation Organisation, the Commission proposed new common rules for air security: control of access to sensitive areas of airports and aircraft; control of passengers and their hand luggage; control and monitoring of hold luggage; control of cargo and mail; training of ground staff; classification of weapons and other items prohibited on board or into the sensitive areas of airports. These new rules include the audit for such measures and will become EU legislation once the Commission’s proposed Regulation is adopted. The Commission is also co-ordinating the EU position in ICAO on new regulations on access to the cockpit, including strengthened doors, and remote surveillance of the cockpit.

In terms of material support to the industry, the EU says the Commission has outlined the way forward on governmental insurance schemes set up to provide cover which was lost when insurance companies cancelled their policies based on war risk clauses. And the Commission will propose "soon" an air insurance package dealing with both insurable and non-insurable risks in the aviation industry. The Commission also made clear that it would examine on a case-by-case basis whether the conditions for an exemption under EU competition rules are met for agreements between airlines, and "will give favourable consideration to the capacity co-ordination agreements designed to maintain a regular service on less frequented routes or to co-ordinate schedules during off-peak periods of the day" On slots, the Commission considered that the airlines were entitled to retain their slots with grandfather status in EU airports during the summer 2002 and the winter 2002/2003 seasons. And it has proposed legal means to react against unfair competition from subsidised third country airlines exploiting subsidies to undercut normal market prices for air transport services.

On tourism, the review notes that "the Commission presented a report on the impact on the tourism sector of the September 11 terrorist attacks", and goes on to predict that "If properly implemented, measures recently foreseen in a Communication on the Future of European Tourism should help alleviate the impact of any long-term negative effects."

EU PLAN TO MODIFY CAR TAX

EUROPEAN TRAVEL POLICY, 9 September 2002

Car tax should be harmonised across the European Union’s member states, and should hit polluting cars more heavily, according the European Commission. A new strategy on taxation of passenger cars in the EU was released today by the Commission, urging member states to change their national rules so that their taxes do not distort the single EU market, and so that CO2 emissions would be discouraged.

Registration taxes should be replaced by annual road taxes and fuel taxes, it recommends, shifting the tax burden from acquisition to use. "I am determined to tackle the tax obstacles individual citizens and car manufacturers face within the Internal Market arising from fifteen different systems of car taxation within the EU", commented Taxation Commissioner Frits Bolkestein. "All too often people have to pay through the nose when they move a car from one country to another. We also have to try to ensure that car taxes are more clearly geared to meeting the EU’s environmental objectives."

The Commission strategy focuses on registration tax, annual road tax and fuel taxes. It points out that registration taxes range from around Euro 267 in Italy to Euro 15,659 in Denmark. As a result, not only consumers face a challenge. Industry is often obliged to produce specific car models, with different specifications to reduce pre-tax prices, in particular when vehicles are destined for high tax member states – with inevitably higher costs. Once it has had discussions with Member States, the European Parliament and other interested parties, the Commission says it may submit proposals for EU legislation based on these principles.

LOYOLA BACKS RED CROSS ROAD SAFETY CAMPAIGN

EUROPEAN TRAVEL POLICY, 9 September 2002

European Transport Commissioner Loyola de Palacio will take part in the celebration of the Red Cross European road safety campaign, on 12 September in Brussels. This innovative campaign, aimed specifically at young road users, is being conducted all around the European Union throughout most of 2002, and has received funding of almost Euro 900 000 from the Commission. Changing driver behaviour is central to the objective of halving the number of deaths on the roads by 2010, a challenge the Commission set in its Transport White Paper of September 2001. Funding road safety campaigns is one part of European road safety policy, but the Commission also intends to continue supporting research into applying the new technologies to impact-resistance, and anti-collision systems. It will also planning further initiatives, including identification and signalling of accident black spots, safety audits for roads, better training of drivers, and improved safety in the road tunnels of the trans-European network.

ITALY-TURKEY ROAD LINK PLAN LAUNCHED

EUROPEAN TRAVEL POLICY, 9 September 2002

The European Union today formally launched the Italy-Turkey pan-European Corridor project through Albania, Bulgaria, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece. The development of the corridor is intended to contribute to the stabilisation process in the Balkans, the forthcoming enlargement of the EU and the strengthening of co-operation between the European Union and eastern Europe. It is one of a number of similar corridors the EU is helping build across the continent.

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