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In November 2018, the European Commission published a strategic long-term vision “A Clean Planet for all”, which since then has been intensively discussed by the European Institutions. No less than the reduction of net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050 is the Commission’s target. On March 14th, 2019 Parliament supported the Commission.

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Fairer, more competitive and cleaner - these are the three slogans, which describe how the European Commission wants transport on Europe’s roads to be will. To achieve this vision, it has submitted as much as 15 proposals of Regulations and Directives over the past two years. This includes the access to the market by bus and coach services and road haulage, where the Commission would like to see more liberalisation. The Transport Committee of the European Parliament has now channelled both submissions in the right direction.

 

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The amendments to the social provisions for lorry and bus drivers have been among the most controversial dossiers at EU level since 2017. The vote held in the European Parliament´s Committee on Transport and Tourism on 10th January 2019, which failed to gain a majority regarding the draft reports on the application of the Directive on the posting of drivers as well as the driving times and rest period regulation, means that a finalisation of the drafts are now a long way away – for the benefit of the people affected.

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According to the currently applicable Concessions Directive, the European Commission is obliged to submit a report on its implementation by April 2019. This raises questions with regard to public services and the European water management. AK EUROPA used this as an opportunity to host a panel discussion with experts from the water supply sector on January 9th 2019 and to present a comprehensive study on water supply systems in Europe.

 

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Public services, particularly water supply and sanitation, are indispensable for the population. Austria’s water supply is very high quality and affordable, and provides a comprehensive supply. It is also in a strong position compared with other European countries, as the results of this study show. International studies show the negative effects of privatising public services, including increased prices, deteriorating supply for the population and reduced investment in infrastructure. As such, there has been a clear trend towards re-municipalisation in recent years.

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With the coming revisions to the Concessions Directive no later than April 2019, the exceptions for water supply and sanitation systems are up for debate again. A new study looks at the water management of six european countries (AT, DE, HU, FR, PT, UK) and demonstrates that public providers do not fall behind private ones, they even show better results in some respects.

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On 3 December 2018, a strident demonstration with the participation of AK EUROPA took place in Brussels, demanding significant improvements to the Mobility Package under the slogan “Better no deal than a bad deal”. In the end, the Council was able to find the sufficient majority for a compromise, which, according to EU Commissioner Violeta Bulc, “nobody is really happy about.”

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A policy which only aims at promoting recycling – which was the main focus so far of the waste management regulations in the EU circular economy package – is not enough. The facts available today are sufficient to justify more extensive measures. Nevertheless further research is still required, which must be carried out just as ambitiously. The “Reasons for and objectives of the proposal” could be supplemented with additional data and facts to support the proposal.

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Werner Hochreiter

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The European Court of Auditors has issued a Special Report on passenger and air passenger rights. In doing so he clearly illustrated the problems incurred by passengers: there is a lack of information and practical enforcement. In a parallel vote, Parliament voted in favour of significantly increasing rail passenger rights.

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It was a Commission proposal, which caused a stir - especially in Austria: in May 2017, the European Commission presented the amendment of the Road Infrastructure Charging Directive, which among other provided for a ban of time-dependent toll systems for passenger cars from 2027. This would mean nothing less than a ban of vignettes on Austria’s motorways.