Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2003-02-11-Speech-2-149"

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"Mr President, Commissioner, the Caveri report is excellent, although that does not prevent us feeling some unease as we approach the vote, unease – I should point out – at the Council’s behaviour, which we feel to be formalistic and wholly inappropriate, deciding as it did in the space of a few hours at a meeting on New Year’s Eve, on 31 December, on a majority solution which loses all merit before the senseless fact that it is a solution which has not been accepted, has not been endorsed by the countries directly involved, namely Austria and Italy. We are also uncomfortable with the decision to offer two countries, Greece and Portugal, a free exemption for some categories of lorry, as if we were still at the very beginning of the integration process and it were necessary to proceed by means of derogations and exemptions. My unease, Mr President, is also due to the great contradiction which this ecopoints system represents without resolving the issue which Commissioner de Palacio also mentioned. Indeed, we are continuing to extend a transitional system which was only accepted when Austria joined the European Union on the basis that it was transitional, precisely because it is a derogation from the provisions of the Treaties on the free movement of goods and, in this case, also because it is a question of the Alpine arc, which is, in any case, a natural obstacle that penalises some countries in terms of the movement of goods. As the Commissioner has rightly pointed out, the solution still has to be transitional, and this is the third reason for our unease – the slow rate of our progress towards the natural solution of the Brenner Base Tunnel, of intermodal transport. However, it is already positive, as Mr Caveri pointed out, that the date for the construction of the tunnel has been brought forward a little from 2021, which was the uncertain date initially proposed to the Austrian Government for work to start. Lastly, Mr President, our unease is also due to the heavy-handed attempt to make a rather over-simplistic distinction between those in Parliament who uphold and wish to safeguard respect for the environment and the quality of the environment and those who are concerned for the interests of road haulage companies. This is not the case. It is an unacceptable simplification of the facts. Our group – and Parliament as a whole, I believe, which has not spared any effort in the quest for compromise amendments – has focused as a priority first and foremost on sustainable development and the quality of the environment in the Alpine arc. The merit of the Caveri report, which is to the credit of all the Members who have contributed to it, is that it contains compromise amendments which reconcile and achieve a balance between the demands of environmental protection and the fundamental principle of free movement. I will end, Mr President, by reminding myself that, in extending the ecopoints system, we are not adopting it as a solution but postponing the decision. Now the governments must have their say."@en1

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