13. ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE OF THE FREIGHT
Draft Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the granting of Community financial assistance to improve the environmental performance of the freight transport system outcome of the European Parliament's first reading.
|Legal base:||Article 71(1) and 80(2); co-decision; qualified majority voting
|Documents originated:||2 October2002
|Deposited in Parliament:||10 October 2002
|Basis of consideration:||EM of 22 October 2002
|Previous Committee Report:||None; but see (23229) 6093/02 and (23230) 6140/02: HC 152-xxiv (2001-02), paragraph 11 (17 April 2002)
|To be discussed in Council:||December 2002
|Committee's assessment:||Politically important
|Committee's decision:||Cleared, but request to be kept informed
13.1 The draft Regulation would implement the Marco Polo
programme, which is intended to improve the environmental performance
of the transport system by promoting the shift of freight from
road transport to short-sea shipping and to rail and inland waterway
13.2 The draft proposes financial assistance for:
- 'Modal Shift Actions' - support for non-road freight services;
- 'Catalyst Actions' support for actions to overcome
'structural' ( non-regulatory) barriers to the efficient functioning
of non-road freight services; and
- 'Common Learning Actions' - promoting co-operation in the
freight logistics market.
The Commission originally proposed a budget of _115 million (£70.25
million) for the period 2003-2007. The proposed budget is now
_85 million (£51.93 million). We cleared the original draft
in April 2002.
13.3 The draft regulation has now had its first reading
in the European Parliament and this document sets out the European
Parliament's proposed amendments. There are 27 of these falling
into three broad groups:
- detailed drafting changes not affecting the substance;
- proposals for enhanced financial controls:
rules for withdrawal of financial assistance in case
procedures for monitoring expenditure;
advancing the date by which the Commission must report
on implementation of the programme;
- reduced minimum subsidy thresholds:
Modal Shift Actions minimum reduced from
_1 million (£611,000) to _500,000 (£305,000);
Catalyst Actions minimum reduced from _3
million (£1.83 million) to _1.5 million (£916,000);
Common Learning Actions minimum reduced from
_500,000 (£305,000) to _250,000 (£153,000).
The Government's view
13.4 The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department
of Transport (Mr David Jamieson) tells us, with reference to the
European Parliament's proposed amendments:
A. Textual amendments
"We regard these as optional clarifications which do not
affect the substance of the proposed regulation and consequently
have no policy implications.
B. Financial controls
"The amendments have no policy implication and we could support
them to the extent that they improve financial management.
"The main beneficiaries of Marco Polo are likely to be Member
States with high levels of transit lorry traffic and those, including
peripheral Member States, who seek enhanced short sea links to
neighbouring countries. We support the reduced thresholds because
these would permit smaller 'value for money' schemes including
those which are more likely to benefit the UK."
13.5 The Minister tells us that subject to agreement
on the budget (we had heard earlier that the UK is amongst those
Member States arguing that it should be less than the _85 million
currently proposed) the Presidency hopes for Political Agreement
on the draft Regulation by the December Council.
13.6 We note the proposed improvements in the draft
Regulation and are content to clear this document. But we should
like the Minister to keep us informed of important developments.