Speaking in Berlin today, the Federal Minister of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs, Wolfgang Tiefensee, took stock of the achievements made as the German Council Presidency is drawing to a close: "The first part of the Triple Presidency is nearing its end. All in all, we can be proud of what we have achieved: we have managed to successfully complete 27 dossiers", said Mr Tiefensee.
"During our Presidency of the EU Council, we worked intensively on the issue of climate change and transport. Not only did we define strict limit values for CO2 emissions but we also adopted the first ever European Energy Strategy for the transport sector. It clearly identifies where we should establish our priorities in the near future, for example in the sphere of passenger car fuel consumption. Here, the EU is setting the most ambitious requirements worldwide. What is important is that every manufacturer makes a contribution, in every market segment and with every model. This applies not just to the manufacturers of large vehicles, but also to the manufacturers of small and medium-sized cars, which make up the majority of the vehicle population and thus have the greatest environmental impact", said Mr Tiefensee.
Climate change was a recurrent theme in the events and dossiers of the German Presidency. For instance, Minister Tiefensee presented a programme to improve environmental protection and safety in the maritime transport sector at the EU conference on maritime policy. "Shipping is increasingly becoming an economic factor for both Germany and the entire European Union. 90 percent of the EU's foreign trade and over 40 percent of intra-Community trade goes by sea. We have to make our transport – be it surface, waterborne or air transport – as environmentally acceptable as possible. And this also applies to maritime transport", said Mr Tiefensee. In shipping, as in other sectors, the Federal Government is pinning its hopes on innovative technologies to reduce emissions. "These include primarily environmentally friendly marine engines, innovative marine fuels and drivetrains, and the use of diesel fuel in place of heavy grades of oil. In the long term there can only be one approach: we have to move away from heavy grades of oil. We have to replace heavy grades of oils by modern and environmentally sound marine diesel. Marine diesel pollutes the oceans far less than heavy grades of oil. We need the quality standards that we have long enjoyed on land for fuels used on the seas", said Mr Tiefensee.
As he further explained, every mode of transport, including the air mode, has to make its contribution to combating climate change. Since international aviation is currently exempt from the agreements of the Kyoto Protocol on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, other ways of limiting greenhouse gas emissions from aviation have to be sought. "One way of ensuring that aviation plays its part in combating climate change is to include aviation in the emissions trading scheme", said the minister. Mr Tiefensee welcomed the adoption of Council conclusions on the inclusion of aviation in emissions trading by the EU Transport Ministers. As Mr Tiefensee said, this means that Europe will now have a common position at the Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which will be held in Montreal in September. "I am glad that the Council has also given the starting signal for the SESAR Joint Undertaking. SESAR will enable us to make more efficient use of airspace. This will benefit the economy and the climate", said Mr Tiefensee.
He said that furthermore the EU Transport Council had finally come to a unanimous decision on the way forward in the Galileo project. In doing so, the Council had acted on the suggestions made by the Presidency and had given Galileo a new direction on its way to implementation. "In January, I had to face up to the fact that the project was dawdling along without making any headway. Contrary to its promises, the industry had failed to fulfil several of its mandates. I therefore called in the industry. We identified the problems and set deadlines to be met by the industry. When it became clear that Galileo could not be continued as a PPP project, the transport ministers came to a quick decision. A clear-cut path is now set for the project. Thus, we have succeeded in paving the way for a transparent decision-making process. As far as financing is concerned, a decision should be reached by the autumn on concrete alternatives that cover all the public sector funding options, including funding by the European Space Agency (ESA)", said Mr Tiefensee.
The minister gave several examples of dossiers which were brought to a successful conclusion under the German Presidency: "Last week, we finalized the Third Railway Package. This may sound rather unimpressive, but it actually represents a cornerstone for European rail transport. It will be instrumental in tearing down technical and bureaucratic barriers within Europe. In the future, there will be a uniform train driver's licence in the European Union, we will open up the market for international passenger services and strengthen passengers' rights. Furthermore, after protracted negotiations, we have signed the EU-US Air Transport Agreement." After more than seven years of negotiations, a new course has also been set for European public passenger transport services under the German Presidency. "With the new Regulation on public passenger transport services, we have reached an important objective of the Council Presidency: legal certainty in the procurement of affordable, high-quality and safe local public transport services", said the Minister.