Select Committee on European Union Forty-Ninth Report


TRANS—EUROPEAN TRANSPORT NETWORK (12817/02)

Letter from Chairman of the Committee to Mr David Jamieson MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport

  Thank you for your Explanatory Memorandum dated 24 October which Sub-Committee B considered at its meetings on 4 November and 2 December 2002.

  As you know, we share your concerns about the attempts to add the six new Priority Projects to the existing list of fourteen. We also note, however, that the Galileo satellite project appears to be going ahead independently. Why is this? Did the Finance Council deliberately exclude it from their consideration of the increased contributions required under the TEN programme?

  We note that the future of this proposal is uncertain, but should the issue be placed on the agenda of a future Transport Council I hope you will ensure that we are properly briefed in advance of the Council meeting.

  Under the circumstances, we are prepared to lift the Scrutiny reserve on this document.

4 December 2002

Letter from David Jamieson to the Chairman

  Thank you for your letter of 4 December which advises that the Committee are prepared to lift the Scrutiny reserve on the above document.

  In your letter you also highlighted the status of the Galileo project in relation to the priority project list and asked why it appeared to be going ahead independently. You will be aware that the project has reached an advanced stage of discussion with the release of TEN funds for the development phase having been agreed at the March 2002 Transport Council. This puts it in the same category as the majority of projects in receipt of TEN funding which are ongoing but are not accorded priority project status. The existing priority project list was settled by the Essen Council of 1994. Plans for the Galileo project would not have been sufficiently advanced for it to be considered a priority project at that time.

  You also asked why the Finance Council excluded it from their consideration of the increased contributions required under the TEN programme. They did so because Regulation 1655/99, adopted in June 1999 by the Council of Ministers and European Parliament, already provides for the maximum level of support for projects concerning satellite positioning and navigation systems to be increased from 2003 to a maximum of 20 per cent of total investment costs. What the current proposed amendment to the Financing Regulation seeks in part to do, is to extend this to other types of project.

  Finally I would like to take this opportunity to update you on developments relating to the more extensive revision of the TEN guidelines which the Commission is required to produce by 2004. It has established a High Level Group as part of its preparatory work. The Group, compromising representatives of Member States and chaired by Karel Van Miert, a former Commission Vice-President, will examine proposals for new priority projects to update the Essen list. Member States have been invited to nominate a representative and DfT's Director General Transport Strategy, Roads and Local Transport Group will be the UK delegate.

  The Group is due to make recommendations to the Commission by the end of March 2003. The Commission will then use its conclusions as the basis for developing the proposals that it would publish in late 2003/early 2004. I will keep the Committee informed of the output from the Group.

  I hope this is helpful.

18 December 2002

Letter from the Chairman to Mr David Jamieson MP

  Thank you for your letter dated 18 December 2002 setting out the reasons why the Galileo project has gone ahead, and why the Finance Council excluded it from their consideration of the increased contributions required under the TEN programme. This letter was considered by Sub-Committee B at its meeting on 13 January 2003.

  It was good of you to bring us up to date on the developments of the TEN guidelines, and the establishment of a High Level Group by the Commission under the Chairmanship of Mr Karel Van Miert. We note that you have appointed your Director General, Transport Strategy Roads and Local Transport Group to be the UK delegate.

15 January 2003

Letter from David Jamieson to the Chairman

  The above EM was considered by your Committee on 6 November 2002 and deemed politically important and for debate. There have been further developments since the submission of the EM and I thought you would like to hear about the current position.

  To be succinct, this document is rapidly being overtaken by events. In its 2001 Transport Policy White Paper, the Commission proposed a two stage revision of the guidelines. The first stage, the subject of this EM and also EM 2597/01, aimed at a limited adaptation, albeit with some additions to the list of priority projects agreed by the Essen Council in 1994. The second stage in 2003-04 would involve a more extensive revision.

  The Commission is now focusing increasingly on the 2004 revision and has now established a High Level Working Group (HLG) as part of its preparatory work. The Group, comprising representatives of Member States and chaired by Karel Van Miert, a former Commission Vice-President, will examine proposals for new priority projects to update the Essen list. Member States were invited to nominate a representative and DfT's Director General Transport Strategy, Roads and Local Transport Group is the UK delegate. The Group is due to report back to the Commission in May. Its report will be one of the inputs that the Commission will then use to further develop a formal proposal that it will publish in late 2003-early 2004.

  In these circumstances we do not now expect the Commission to take its revised 2001 proposal any further forward. It would seem very odd indeed if the Commission was to continue pushing for changes to the Essen list now, when at the same time it has commissioned a High Level Group to work on the same issue as part of the development work leading to the 2004 revision. The projects under consideration are major long-term infrastructure projects and it would be pointless to bestow priority status on a project now if there was the possibility of a U-turn in just 18 months of so. Moreover, one of the reasons for setting up the High Level Group was to address criticism from Member States that evidence had not been produced to support the addition of six new projects to the Essen list as part of the 2001 revision.

  The Danish Presidency did not pursue the dossier following its failure to secure political agreement in the October Council. And the Greek Presidency will be limiting its work to a consideration about how to integrate into the TEN the networks of the acceding countries ie in relation to the changes due in 2004 and not to the Commission's amended 2001 proposal. We are expecting to have a Communication on this particular aspect in April/May and will of course prepare an EM in the light of it.

  Given these circumstances, I would be grateful if you would let me know whether you feel that it would be more valuable to hold the debate at this stage or defer it until the 2004 revision is issued.

  I hope this is helpful.

9 April 2003


 
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