The Transport Committee of the European Parliament was in session this week to discuss among others sensitive Alpine Regions within the scope of the so-called Alpine Convention, the Road transport package and associated with it the 12-day regulation for bus and coach drivers demanded by the Transport Committee.
12-day regulation for bus and coach drivers:
The road transport package, which is supposed to guarantee access to the international road haulage market and to the passenger transport market resp. the admission to the profession of bus driver, is already debated in a 2nd Reading. Parliamentary rapporteur Mathieu Grosch of the European People's Party and his party colleague Georg Jarzembowski think that it is of vital importance that bus drivers will in future be subject to the “12-day Regulation”. Currently, bus drivers are required to have a break of at least 36 hours after 6 days of work; with the new Regulation coming into force, a break should only be possible after 12 days. MEP Brian Simpson of the Social Democrats refers in this context to a certain pressure of the trade unions concerning this regulation.

Sensitive Alpine Regions:
The agreement on the protocol on implementing the so-called Alpine Convention in the field of transport should be passed off without any problems. The eight countries of the Alpine arc (Austria, Germany, Italy, France, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Switzerland and Slovenia) decided to draw up an agreement on the protection and sustainable development of the Alpine region at the end of the eighties already. In the transport protocol on the Alpine Convention these countries commit themselves to a sustainable transport policy, which would for example provide explicitly for shifting freight traffic from road to rail and the promotion of environmentally friendly and resource-sparing modes of transport. The European Parliament is scheduled to adopt the Transport Protocol in April. At Council level there are, however, still problems with Italy, which has not yet ratified the Alpine Convention. Apparently, there are currently background discussions held by the Czech Council Presidency with Italy to achieve an agreement and thereby the ratification.

Debate with Transport Commissioner Tajani - Road Transport Working Time Directive and air passenger rights:
In a discussion with the Transport Committee, Transport Commissioner Antonio Tajani outlined his proposal on air passenger rights. A Commission Communication on applying passenger rights is scheduled for publication in the second half of 2009. A review, which will also address any weaknesses of the current regulation, will be published next year.
MEP Jarzembowski (European People’s Party) wanted to know from Commissioner Tajani, whether the Road Transport Working Time Directive should now also apply to self-employed persons, as provided for in the current version or whether there was a way to avoid this. The background to this question is a new Directive proposal, which intends to exempt self-employed people from the area of application. Two weeks before, this proposal of the Commission had been rejected by the Employment Committee; as a result, self-employed persons must also adhere to the driving time and rest periods described therein - a noteworthy lobbying success for the labour representatives. Tajani remained cautious, saying he hoped that the parliamentary plenum in May would come out in favour of the proposal of the Commission after all. A wish, which will hopefully not be fulfilled if the labour representatives could help it.