Examination of Witnesses (Questions 60-65)|
MONDAY 23 JUNE 2003
60. Mr McNulty, I suspect we may see you again
on that matter. The relevance today is that of timing of the juxtaposition
of events, as it were, is it not? It seemed to us that the potential
for an open aviation area, quite apart from, heaven forbid, phase
one "open skies", to have an impact on competition,
pricing and airline restructuring, as far as the UK is concerned
is not entirely dependent on runway capacity and slots and all
that in the UK. Hence, if the Commission were to be pushing forward
on the slots issue more speedily than it pushed forward on other
issues, clearly there will be some problems arising for us and
no doubt for the Commission. Do you recognise that there are some
interconnections in your own thinking? Would the Commission share
that view in its timing and phasing of an examination of slots?
(Mr Baker) I think you can look at the common aviation
area in Europe, which is generally judged a great success. The
competition benefits would have been even greater if they were
not inhibited by the lack of airport infrastructure. That would
actually apply also to the transatlantic Open Aviation Area. The
difficulty, though, is that it is not open to the Commission to
create more slots at London airports.
61. Is the mandate a public document?
(Mr Smethers) I am afraid not. I thought you might
ask that question. I specifically asked the Commission whether
we could let you have the mandate on a privileged basis but the
answer was "no, it is a confidential document".
62. I thought you might give me that answer.
That is a disappointing answer from the Commission. In the briefing
notes to the MEPs, MEPs were assured that, following intensive
negotiations with HMG, they would now have texts which meet our
conditions and those do various things, including, as far as possible,
preventing one Member State benefiting from not acting properly
to ensure non-discriminatory treatment of all EU airlines. Are
those texts publicly available? Those are the safeguards that
meet our conditions.
(Mr Smethers) If I heard properly, the reference there
was to the draft framework Regulation because that requires any
Member State that is negotiating bilaterally with a third country
to include the Community designation in its negotiations. It also
requires Member States to report back to the Commission and the
special committee on what happened. There will be some transparency
at least about the extent to which Member States have tried to
achieve Community designation. That is contained in the draft
framework Regulation, which is available.
63. I am relying on paragraph 4 of the document
headed, "Briefing for UK Members", the reference to
texts which meet our conditions, that we needed to have in order
to agree on this particular general way forward. It referred to
six conditions. My question was whether the texts setting out
the way in which those conditions have been met are publicly available.
(Mr Smethers) Some are and some are not because some
of those conditions have been met in the texts of the two mandates.
Those mandates are not public documents. Some are met in the framework
Regulation, which is a public document.
64. Would it be possible to give us a note on
(Mr Smethers) Yes.
65. Mr McNulty, we have gone five minutes over
time and it is a discourtesy to you for which I apologise. Was
there anything you wanted to add before we bring this session
to a close?
(Mr McNulty) Only to assure you that today's minimal
verbosity is not a precedent!
Chairman: I have no doubt whatsoever about that.
On behalf of the Committee, thanks to you and to your colleagues.
We are extremely grateful.