Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2000-05-16-Speech-2-290"

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"Mr President, Commissioner, honourable Members, literature has a few well-known words for what we are discussing in the two Savary reports this evening: “You are late, but at least you are here”, was how Friedrich Schiller put it, words which also apply to our work here in the European Parliament. To discuss the interoperability of the conventional trans-European railway system at the end of the 20th century, just as everyone is getting ready to leave, looks bad, even if, admittedly, interoperability has increased. But still! It has taken more than 100 years for us to pluck up the courage here and give the railways another chance. And yet the facts do not look very promising. The rapporteur has included figures in his report which are all the more significant for being so thin on the ground. Mr Hatzidakis has already told us that the railways had a 21% share of the freight traffic market in 1970 and now have a mere 8.5%; in passenger transport, their share has fallen from 10% in 1970 to 6%. The prospects for high-speed trains are somewhat more encouraging, although here too, not everything in the garden is rosy. It is true that we have at least got something on the rails in western Europe, namely Thalys and Eurostar. But where we want to network Europe in the long term, especially with the future Member States of the Union, things do not look any better. Yet it is vital to win over Eastern Europe, which still makes relatively good use of the railway network, to interoperability with Europe before everything switches to the roads. Incidentally, this must be done through dialogue with the candidate countries, as the Savary report rightly stresses. On one point, there is a need for nostalgia: we want to maintain a small part of the history of Europe and keep historic railway lines in their original state. We shall leave them out of the scope of our directive and the friends of the railway will thank us. Interoperability is rightly not required where regional demands and solutions need to maintain their own legislation within the framework of subsidiarity. In this context, a word to my Austrian Minister of Transport. The southern railway in Austria is an old stretch of line and is of regional importance. But, more importantly, it is the north-south link in the east of the present Union. If we do not invest in it, the east of Austria will run the risk of economic exclusion in the future. That is in nobody’s interest. Austria is excluded from the Union at present more than enough as it is. Let us end all forms of isolation and ensure that we have comprehensive interoperability in the Union."@en1

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