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Just a month has passed since the plenum of the European Parliament rejected the liberalisation plans of the European Commission in respect of groundhandling services at airports with a clear majority. The Directive proposal was referred back to the competent Transport Committee to debate further action to be taken concerning this dossier. However, the comments made by MEPs during a debate remained very sceptical.
The responsible rapporteur MEP Artur Zasada of the European People's Party reported that there had already been talks between the political groups to perhaps reach a solution concerning the Directive after all. The key demand of the Socialists – improvement of the working conditions, such as the binding takeover of employees by a new provider – was simply not feasible. However, another option would be to leave it to the Member States whether or not to take further steps towards liberalisation. Should agreement be reached, a vote in the plenum could be taken in the plenum in March or April, said MEP Zasada.

The Social Democrat MEP Fleckenstein criticised that in 1996, the Directive on Groundhandling Services had done a lot of damage. It made no sense to adopt a Directive that showed no progress with regard to social and employment policy, commented the Social Democrat. His colleague Saïd El Khadraoui added to Fleckenstein’s statement by saying that 3 providers would be acceptable, provided the social conditions would improve.

Both the Green MEP Michael Cramer and the Liberal representative Wolf Klinz criticised that the Directive was in any case only concerned with only a small number of airports. According to Cramer, these would be Frankfurt, Munich and Vienna. The Greens want to continue rejecting the Directive proposal, as it was ill-conceived. “We will not pull the Commission’s chestnuts out of the fire”, said Cramer.

MEPs of several political groups were sympathetic to the proposal of leaving further liberalisation steps to the EU Member States. However, a number of representatives do not longer believe that agreement will be achieved in respect of the Directive.

Following his embarrassing solo run with regard to overlong HGVs weighing up to 60 tons, also referred to as monster trucks, the luckless EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas can now expect another unpleasant setback. The European Parliament will finally decide on the Groundhandling Directive in April at the latest.