28. The Commission has not been able to estimate
the cost of implementing the White Paper's proposals. Ideally,
it would like to choose those policies which have the best cost-benefit
ratios. Many of the elements of the White Paper, however, are
"unknown" and the Commission will have to make a judgement
on which policies offer most value with "the best information
we have available".
In addition, the Commission's White Paper has no direct relationship
with the Government's 10 Ten Year Plan for Transport except that
they address similar problems.
We are concerned that the White Paper was prepared without considering
its implications for the Government's own spending plans set out
in the 10 Year Plan for Transport. The Commission's policies will
require additional expenditure on transport which may represent
a further drain on the funds that have already been allocated
under the 10 Year Plan without contributing to the achievement
of the Plan's objectives. The Commission envisages major changes
throughout the transport sectors that would require very significant
costs and yet has totally failed to provide an assessment of the
overall costs to the European Union, or to reflect the funding
plans already in place in Member States. This Committee fails
to recognise how the White Paper's proposals would assist the
tax payer, or deliver political or economic benefits to Member
29. The European Commission's White Paper is largely
aspirational, but if its proposals were to be implemented, they
would incur additional expenditure for little, if any, benefit
and would have very serious consequences for transport policy
in the United Kingdom. Some of the Commission's policies,
for example, the railway interoperability directives, which are
updated in the White Paper, are already having an effect on spending
plans. We are concerned at the number of areas in which the Commission
is seeking to develop competence, such as taking membership of
international transport bodies, which are matters for individual
Member States themselves. Pedestrian protection is the one area
where the Commission has competence and yet it has failed to use
its powers adequately.
LIST OF CONCLUSIONS AND
(a) The Minister should incorporate this
Report's recommendations in his representations to the Council.
(b) We are dismayed that the Commission
does not aim to reduce the need for people and goods to travel
long distances, merely to reduce the dependence on more environmentally
damaging forms of transport. Decisive action is required now to
reduce demand. The Commission has failed to formulate an implementable
sustainable transport policy, which should include the integration
of transport and land-use planning to reduce the need to travel.
The Commission must reexamine its priorities and focus on reducing
demand for transport and how transport policy would contribute
to tackling social exclusion (paragraph 10).
(c) The Commission failed to include
indicative costings for implementation of the interoperability
Directives. The Department for Transport, Local Government and
the Regions should assess them with care. The financial viability
of some domestic rail services could be undermined by the strict
application of the technical specifications for interoperability
leading to traffic being transferred from rail to road. If subsidiarity
is to be a reality those Directives are clearly an area in which
it should be exercised (paragraph 15).
European Railway Agency
(d) While the exchange of information
and best practice techniques, especially concerning safety issues,
between railway operators should be encouraged, existing organisations
are capable of performing those tasks. The Agency, which we suspect
may seek legislative powers in the future should not conflict
or duplicate the work of relevant organisations already established
in the individual Member States. In particular, we are concerned
that the Commission's proposals will conflict with the establishment
of the new rail industry safety body proposed in the United Kingdom
(e) The Commission has created proposals
that achieve the convoluted result of being both too general and
too detailed, while failing to reflect the commercial, environmental
and economic needs of Member States. It is essential that the
provision of additional runway capacity at congested European
hub airports is reviewed (paragraph 20).
INLAND WATERWAYS AND SHORT-SEA SHIPPING
(f) While the Committee welcomes
the Commission's intentions to encourage greater use of water
transport, assistance must be available to the inland waterways
in the United Kingdom if this form of transport is to be an effective
alternative to road haulage (paragraph 22).
DIESEL TAX HARMONISATION
(g) Harmonisation of diesel tax would
almost inevitably mean a lower level of tax in the United Kingdom.
A reduction in the price of diesel would make road haulage more
attractive and would undermine the Government's efforts to encourage
the use of railways for freight and to reduce road congestion.
The Government should strongly resist any attempt to harmonise
fuel tax rates, unless the freedom to maintain rates above the
standard rate is explicitly preserved (paragraph 23).
(h) Road safety is the single biggest
transport issue in the European Union. We fail to understand why
the Commission, having set a demanding target to reduce the numbers
of fatalities on Europe's roads, has failed to propose any substantive,
practical measures to achieve that target. The measures that it
does proposecommon road signs on the trans-European Network
and the advertising of high-risk siteswill have minimal
affect on casualty reduction. The hundreds of thousands of European
citizens who will be the victims of road accidents over the decade
ahead deserve something more than yet another meaningless target
(i) We are very disappointed that
the Commission has not shown its commitment to road safety in
the one area in which it has direct competence. By refusing to
bring forward the European Pedestrian Safety Directive, the Commission
has shown a callous disregard for the lives of European citizens.
The voluntary agreement which has been put in its place will be
far less effective (paragraph 25).
MEMBERSHIP OF INTERNATIONAL BODIES
(j) There could be serious consequences
if the Commission was successful in securing full membership of
such organisations. The position of individual Member States could
be completely undermined in negotiations that have direct consequences
for the working conditions and economies of those States. It would
be bizarre if Member States relinquished control of such important
matters and the Community adopted the lowest common denominator
view among Member States. The United Kingdom Government must resist
the Commission's ambitions (paragraph 27).
(k) The Commission envisages major
changes throughout the transport sectors that would require very
significant costs and yet has totally failed to provide an assessment
of the overall costs to the European Union, or to reflect the
funding plans already in place in Member States. This Committee
fails to recognise how the White Paper's proposals would assist
the tax payer, or deliver political or economic benefits to Member
States (paragraph 28).
(l) The European Commission's White
Paper is largely aspirational, but if its proposals were to be
implemented, they would incur additional expenditure for little,
if any, benefit and would have very serious consequences for transport
policy in the United Kingdom (paragraph 29).
76 Q 10. Back
Q 79. Back