Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2007-09-24-Speech-1-130"

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"Mr President, Mr Vice-President of the Commission, ladies and gentlemen, many of us probably know the story of the Captain of Köpenick, and many of us have also laughed at what happened. Yet that story was not and is not all that funny. Just because someone is wearing a uniform, that does not mean he can or should have or claim any powers. It is not so very long ago that rail passengers in Europe, in our Member States, came across many little Köpenicks. The conductor was an official, the customer was not – he was subservient. European Community legislation has breathed a lot of fresh air into those quasi-government structures and there has been a great deal of change in the space of surprisingly few years. Monopolies and quasi-monopolies are slowly and increasingly becoming service industries more or less subject to competition. Passengers are acquiring rights. That is the subject I want to address. In the Sterckx report the European Parliament set itself very ambitious objectives overall. Our key objective was to ensure that where possible all passengers are guaranteed the same or similar passenger rights, regardless of the train they are in; in particular, this must not be restricted to international travel. Parliament regarded it as unacceptable for people to be treated differently on the same train. The compromise that was reached with difficulty during conciliation did not entirely achieve that aim, but it almost did. All passengers now have basic rights in very important areas: liability, rights of persons with reduced mobility, information, and then, stage by stage and at times unfortunately with very long transitional periods, further-reaching rights for all. The key achievements are something to be proud of, especially when compared to air passenger rights, another matter we consider important. They include fines, compensation for delays, improved access for persons with reduced mobility, wheelchairs, accompanying persons, and better information on all those aspects. This will continue to be a major task in future too, so that we can ensure that passengers can claim their rights even if people in uniform treat them dismissively or distantly. One final word, to avoid any misunderstandings. As it stands, the new directive does not yet apply entirely to local services – urban, suburban and regional services. We will have to introduce separate rules for local public transport, to ensure that there too customers are treated like kings and not servants."@en1

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