The European Commission has adopted a package of measures, which it says will provide significant relief to the transport sector by solving practical problems, removing administrative burdens, and increasing flexibility.
This package includes measures to support the aviation, rail, maritime, inland navigation and road sectors, ensuring that no single player is hit harder than any other, as the entire sector moves on from the travel restrictions put in place during the coronavirus pandemic. Additional proposals may follow in the coming weeks.
Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean said: “Today’s proposals put forward concrete ways to ease the daily operations in the transport sector, across modes. This should also allow companies in the sector to start focusing on their much-needed recovery.”
The measures introduced to protect public health have made it difficult for some transport operators, individuals and national administrations to complete certain formalities required under EU law, such as renewing licences. All transport modes will therefore benefit from a proposal allowing for the validity date of certain certificates, licences and other authorisations to be extended. Certain periodic checks in road, rail, inland waterways transport and maritime security will also be postponed temporarily.
For aviation, the relief proposal addresses ground-handling services – authorising the extension of contracts to avoid complex tenders, and allowing concessions that will prevent airports from getting blocked should ground-handling companies go bankrupt. The proposal also modifies air carrier licensing rules temporarily to ease financial problems linked to the coronavirus.
A proposal to amend the regulation on port charges will give Member States and port authorities the flexibility to defer, reduce or lift port infrastructure charges for port users, if they so wish. This will provide shipping companies, including those operating ferries, with much-needed liquidity.
For rail, the Commission is proposing to extend by three months the deadline by which some Member States must transpose EU law on rail safety and interoperability. The delay will ensure the sector has legal clarity, and can focus its time and resources on coronavirus recovery.
The Commission has also responded positively to requests from 11 Member States for temporary exemption from EU rules on driving times and rest periods that they have put in place. The exemption will provide drivers the flexibility they need to keep goods moving around Europe, even if they encounter queues at border crossings, reduced access to rest and sanitary facilities along the network. A further nine Member States have now also requested temporary exemption, and will receive a positive decision in the coming weeks.
Other proposals will follow today’s package, providing additional relief to the transport sector. With all of the measures, from those easing the regulatory burden to those reducing costs, the Commission intends to ensure that no market player must carry more than its fair share of the burden created by the pandemic. The EU’s entire transport sector must emerge strong from coronavirus to help get the economy moving once again.