Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2003-01-14-Speech-2-010"

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"Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, for a long time transport policy was a poor relation in European policy. In plain language, for a long time nothing happened at all. It required a judgment by default from the European Court of Justice for things slowly to start inching forward, step by step. Admittedly, we have seen some movement on air and maritime transport in recent years – this is pleasing, and we are grateful for this, not least to the Commissioner – but the tragic events off the Spanish coast have shown that we are still a long way from where we actually should be. It is above all in the sector that is being discussed here and now that we are still a long way from where we should be, namely in the rail sector. Much ought to have been done here in the last few years and it still has not been done, including establishing genuine coordination between the Member States. Mr Jarzembowski has already pointed out that the rail sector is the only one in which the internal market is not a reality. I would perhaps express this in even stronger terms: where rail is concerned we have probably not even started to make it a reality. That is why the necessary balance between the individual modes of transport is still lacking. This has also been mentioned once already today. It cannot be stressed often enough. The results are as bad as you would expect, particularly between road and rail where the gulf is tending to widen in the absence of sensible joint solutions. The European rail system and its connection to the system in the candidate countries, which will soon be members of this Union, needs to be revitalised and made to work; otherwise a lot more will go wrong on our railways and we will have even more problems than we do now. As an Austrian I am not only referring to transit across the Brenner Pass and the Alps; essentially this applies to all regions of Europe, all of which are sensitive to a greater or lesser degree, not only those that have been under intensive discussion over the last few days. In this context, I should like to apprise you of one fact, which is not without interest, because unfortunately it is never adequately taken into consideration in the discussion: the Austrian railways are the only ones to have increased their share of the freight market in the last few years. All of our other neighbouring countries have continued to let road strengthen its lead over rail. Now what is at issue specifically in the Ainardi report, for which I was also responsible as shadow rapporteur? Interoperability should and must be made a reality across the entire network. We cannot concentrate, as we did originally, on individual parts of the network – high-speed lines and so forth – and treat them separately. We have to try actually to find one single structure, obviously with the necessary exemptions for regional railways – if they really are regional railways – for heritage railways and others. When it comes to drafting and adopting these technical specifications we must firstly bear in mind that this is not the job of the European legislator, but that specialists must set to work on these, and European politicians are only called on to monitor progress. What is important here are reasonable costs and a high degree of safety. Both aspects have been addressed often enough here today. I do not need to emphasise this particularly, but I do think that we should take them seriously. Where safety is concerned, I would specifically point out that we have now tabled a proposal to extend the black box system to the railways. This means that we also want to make progress on research, so as to ensure that in the long term we arrive where we need to arrive, at a functioning European transport system."@en1

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