The New Year means the Netherlands will be at the helm of the European Union and setting the agenda for the next six months as part of its rotating Presidency of the Council.
The Netherlands Presidency has announced that it wants an EU that focuses on what matters most to Europe’s citizens and businesses: an EU that creates growth and jobs through innovation and connects with civil society. During the next 6 months, the presidency will focus on four key areas:
- Migration and International security;
- Sound finances and a robust Eurozone;
- Europe as an innovator and job creator;
- Forward-looking climate and energy policy.
As far as transport is concerned, the Netherlands Presidency will focus on the contribution that transport, logistics and mobility can make to the Juncker Commission’s plan for jobs, economic growth and investment.
Opening up railways to competition and brokering an agreement on the 4th Railway Package is one of the top priorities for the Netherlands Presidency. The proposal will progressively open the market in order to encourage new entrants and will harmonise more aspects of rail travel at EU level. The technical aspects of the package have already been agreed but the more sensitive political aspects are still under discussion.
The Netherlands Presidency intends to pursue negotiations with the European Parliament on the remaining three dossiers related to public service contracts, a Single railway area and accounts of railway undertakings in the hope of reaching an early second reading agreement by spring 2016.
The Netherlands Presidency will also organise an informal meeting of Transport Ministers in conjunction with Environment Ministers in April 2016. One of the themes of this meeting will be “smart mobility” (cooperative and automated driving). Ministers will discuss how to harmonise standards in the area of Intelligent Transport Systems and self-driving vehicles with a look at both the economic and environmental benefits. The ultimate goal is to explore ways of decarbonising transport.
Partly in the framework of the Better Regulation initiative, the Netherlands Presidency will work on the EU Urban Agenda. The aim is to better align EU policy and legislation with urban practices so that cities can contribute more to maximising the potential for jobs and growth in Europe.
The European Accessibility Act and the Digital Single Market Strategy will also be on the agenda of the Netherlands Presidency.
So as Europe goes Dutch, UITP will be busy closely monitoring all these dossiers on behalf of its members.
Click here to read the full Programme of the Netherlands Presidency of the European Union.