Tag Archives: Transport of goods

Further integration of the European rail system: third railway package

Further integration of the European rail system: third railway package

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Further integration of the European rail system: third railway package


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Transport > Rail transport

Further integration of the European rail system: third railway package

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 3 March 2004 entitled “Further integration of the European rail system: the third railway package [COM(2004) 140 final – not published in the Official Journal].


In 2001 the Commission set out its objectives for the reform of rail transport in the White Paper ” European transport policy for 2010: time to decide “.The present communication announces the third railway package. The Commission proposes the opening-up of services to competition by 2010 and puts forward proposals concerning the certification of drivers and strengthening of passengers’ rights.

This third railway package comprises two directives and two regulations (of which one was rejected by the Parliament):

Proposal for a Directive [COM(2004) 142 final] on the certification of drivers

In its communication the Commission stresses the impact of driver training on safety. It considers that driver skills fall into two categories:

  • general skills relating to the job of driver;
  • more specific skills relating to line knowledge, the rolling stock and the operating procedures of the railway undertaking for which the driver works.

With the opening-up of the rail freight markets, a growing number of drivers will find themselves operating on the network of another Member State. The Commission therefore wishes to establish:

  • a certification system attesting that the driver has sufficient general knowledge, authenticated by a licence issued to the individual driver that is recognised and valid throughout the Community;
  • a series of certificates attesting to specific knowledge (relating to a specific route, rolling stock and railway undertaking) and allowing the driver to operate.

Proposal for a Regulation [COM(2004) 143 final] on passengers’ rights

In order to make the railways more attractive, the Commission also wishes passengers’ rights to be better protected – particularly with regard to reimbursement for train delays. The situation of passengers on international journeys is often less secure. The Commission therefore considers that the current international arrangements, based on the Convention concerning International Carriage by Rail (COTIF), are inadequate and do not directly create passengers’ rights.

Access to information and fares, and the option of buying international rail tickets easily, are in the Commission’s view the very least that is needed to make rail services attractive. In addition, the Commission wishes liability to be clearly defined in the event of accidents, incidents or train delays. On this last point, compensation thresholds should be set and the various channels for passengers’ appeals clearly identified. Lastly, the Commission considers that greater account should be taken of the needs of people with reduced mobility.

In the Commission’s view, these arrangements to protect passengers’ rights will be all the more vital once the market is opened up for certain services.

Proposal for a Directive [COM(2004) 139 final] on opening up the passenger transport market

The Commission stresses the contrasts between regional, national and international rail traffic and wishes to take these diverse segments into account by combining two models for opening up to competition:

  • under the first, a competitive procedure can be used to award a public service contract. In the Commission’s view this model would work well for suburban and regional services, which transport the vast majority of passengers. It forms the basis of the Commission’s proposal to modernise Regulation No 1191/69 on public service obligations;
  • the other model consists in opening up access to the infrastructure for operators wishing to provide international services. This model would be better suited to long-distance services and to specific services where commercial innovation is likely to attract new customers.

The competitors will need to have:

  • rolling stock and drivers authorised for service in the Member States in which they plan to operate;
  • a railway undertaking licence in a Member State;
  • a safety certificate issued by the national safety authority of each of the Member States they plan to cross;
  • infrastructure capacity, in order to provide a regular service.

The Commission therefore wishes all international services to be opened up to competition on 1 January 2010. This opening-up also includes cabotage on international services (carriage of passengers between two places within the same Member State).

Interoperability requirements

The Commission also points out that integrating Europe’s railway systems requires technical harmonisation in order to ensure the interoperability of rolling stock and equipment.

A fourth proposal rejected by the Parliament

The Commission had also made a proposal for a regulation aiming to improve the quality of rail services. It was rejected first time round by the Parliament. In particular the text proposed establishing mandatory minimum clauses in transport contracts, among which there was a proposal for a compensation system in case of freight being delayed or damaged. It would have encouraged railway undertakings and their clients to regulate quality management contractually.

Quality of rail freight

Quality of rail freight

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Quality of rail freight


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Transport > Rail transport

Quality of rail freight

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 8 September 2008 on the “The quality of rail freight services” [COM(2008) 536 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


This Communication gives an analysis of the quality of rail freight services, the effectiveness of the agreements and voluntary measures implemented by the sector as well as the recommendations for Community action to be implemented in this area. The Commission emphasises that the performance of rail freight has not deteriorated since 2004 and even substantially increased in 2006. It notes however that this trend seems rather fragile since it is the result of external factors such as the increases in oil prices, road congestion and weather conditions unfavourable to inland waterway transport.

The concept of quality can be understood in two ways: the level of service proposed and offered and compliance with contractual commitments. It can also cover other aspects such as availability of the service, safety and security.

Progress made by rail freight

The Commission notes that customer information and the commercial responsiveness of rail freight operators have constantly improved over the last few years. Moreover, the incumbent rail operators have embarked on restructuring their output. The development of competition in particular has stimulated rationalisation, the emergence of new methods, and new production methods and an extension of the services offered. Despite this progress, the Commission regrets that the quality of railway services remains inferior to what the road sector can offer.

The sector as a whole committed itself to improving freight quality, in particular under the framework of a Charter signed in July 2003 by the International Union of Railways (UIC), the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) and the International Rail Transport Committee (CIT) (Annex I). Furthermore, many incumbent operators have embarked on a policy of certification of the quality of their services (Annex II). Finally, quality clauses are appearing in contracts more and more often.

Guidelines from the Commission

The Commission regrets the lack of information regarding the quality of rail freight. The information most widely available concerns the punctuality of trains, which overall is increasing only very slightly and remains poor (Annexes III and IV). According to the Commission, as a priority, improvements must be made to traffic management, which presupposes in particular the use of new technologies, improvements in infrastructure maintenance, reinforced cooperation between national infrastructure managers and much quicker development of technical and administrative interoperability.

The Commission believes that development of competition is a vital component of improvements in the quality of service, but that this is currently developing too slowly. In order to promote competition, in the short term the Commission will focus on:

  • effective application of the rules concerning competition contained in the 1st and 2nd rail packages;
  • recasting of the 1st rail package.

Monitoring the implementation of the guidelines on State aid to railway undertakings State aid to railway undertakings will also be an important aspect of improving the operation of the rail markets.

Furthermore, the Commission will step up its action to optimise the use of infrastructure, cooperation between infrastructure managers and investment in rail infrastructure, in particular in the context of the following initiatives:

  • the achievement of a European network giving priority to freight COM(2007) 608 final);
  • the TEN-T programme;
  • the Marco Polo programme.

Finally, with the aim of increasing transparency relating to the quality of services and to encourage the sector as a whole, the Commission will continue to encourage:

  • the establishment of schemes for the improvement of performance (Directive 2001/14/EC);
  • the development of tools for measuring the performance of rail freight;
  • the publication of quality indicators.


In 2004 the Commission put forward a proposal for a Regulation on compensation in cases of non-compliance with quality requirements applicable to rail freight services. The proposal, which was prompted by the poor quality of service provided by freight operators and the need for improvements in order to encourage the transport of goods by rail, was withdrawn in the end. Should the current problems not be resolved, the Commission foresees the possibility of putting forward a new proposal.

The role of customs in the integrated management of external borders

The role of customs in the integrated management of external borders

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The role of customs in the integrated management of external borders


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Police and customs cooperation

The role of customs in the integrated management of external borders

Document or Iniciative

Communication of 24 April 2003 from the Commission to the Council, European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee on the role of customs in the integrated management of external borders [COM(2003) 452 final – Official Journal C 96 of 21.4.2004]


The present customs controls applied to goods are not adequate to protect the Member States from the growing threats to the EU at its external borders. Chief among these are:

  • Criminal and terrorist threats

    This category includes the introduction into the Community of prohibited goods such as explosives or nuclear, biological or chemical weapons, and also smuggling or trafficking of illegal goods such as drugs, cigarettes and counterfeit goods, often used to finance to finance terrorist organisations or organised crime.
  • Health and safety risks to consumers

    This category covers the unauthorised import of contaminated goods, narcotics and anabolic substances, and medicines and consumer products that do not comply with Community safety standards.
  • Environmental and health risks

    These include illegal trafficking of species of fauna and flora in danger of extinction, radioactive matter and risks associated with the undeclared introduction into Community territory of animal or vegetable species or products.

At present the measures, priorities, investment, equipment and resources used to combat these threats and protect the Community and its citizens differ from one Member State to the next. This means that security controls are neither harmonised nor uniform at Community level, and responses to threats at the external borders are sometimes slow. Common, integrated management of the external borders therefore needs to be established.

Customs operations need to be reorganised to increase the safety of goods. Hence the Communication proposes rationalising customs controls by identifying which ones could be carried out at internal borders to enable controls at external borders to focus on the goods that absolutely must be checked there for safety reasons.

The Commission proposes establishing a common approach to risk at the external borders. In the end this will mean all the authorities with responsibilities relating to the safety of goods (including customs, the police, consumer protection, health protection and environmental protection authorities) working together to establish priorities and define common risk profiles. The risk profiles can be used to identify the most relevant data for risk analyses.

In the long run this should also mean that traders will be able to electronically transmit all data on their goods to customs for initial identification of risks. The data should be supplied in electronic format to facilitate their transfer, evaluation and processing. Customs will then have to centralise the information and send it to the competent authorities. A single transmission channel will have to be set up for this purpose, and it should be possible to process the information on the basis of the profiles established by all the authorities concerned. Effective and rapid systems for information transmission between customs and the other relevant authorities will have to be set up and operated.

Because of their experience in identifying movements of goods, customs will have to cooperate more closely with the police in fraud investigations and have a more specific role in policing goods.

The material and human resources necessary to implement the approach will need to be available at any point along the external borders. Where bulky or particularly expensive equipment is involved, it may be found desirable to designate certain specialised border posts to control certain well-defined types of goods, and to provide them with the necessary special equipment. This would make it possible to spread equipment costs more equitably and to concentrate expertise at these specialised posts. However, such specialisation should not create an obstacle to legitimate trade by imposing additional costs for processing goods at posts far from their destinations.

The proposal presents initiatives which could be introduced for sharing data on goods moving from one country to another to allow more effective identification of high-risk traffic. This would allow the transfer of data received from the exporting country, where information is easier to locate and fuller, and so accelerate customs procedures without compromising security. The Community should promote this principle of sharing responsibility with its neighbours and main trade partners.

The Community should also step up export controls.

In the interests of risk management on its external borders, the Community should increase its cooperation with third countries and countries with which it shares borders.

Measures to support the new Member States should also be adopted, in particular under the Customs 2007 programme.