Thursday, January 13, 2005

"Europe" cancelled through lack of interest

Well not exactly, but some of it. In an almost unprecedented move, the EU transport council meeting due to be held in February has been postponed "due to lack of work".

The Luxembourg government, currently holding the EU presidency, believes the pending agenda in the field of transport does not justify a formal meeting of ministers from the 25 member states.

Luxembourg spokeswoman Danielle Bistoff tried to make light of the light workload. "Yes," she said, "this does happen." The next transport council is now scheduled to take place in April.

That means that the new transport commissioner, M. Jacques "Wheel" Barrot, gets a little rest from his travails, but he still has plenty to do.

According to the joint work programme submitted by Luxembourg and the UK, which takes over the presidency this summer, there is the third package of EU railway legislation; the extension of the scope of the European Aviation Safety Agency; adoption of mandates for negotiations with non-EU states in the field of aviation; "Erika 3" maritime safety legislation; the controversial access to port services directive; "intermodal security" – whatever that means; and, of course, the development of the Galileo satellite navigation system;

However, the sudden cancellation of the council seems to have caught a few of the national delegations by surprise. The UK permanent representation in Brussels was yesterday confused about its. 'It seems to be on some calendars but not on others,' said one diplomat.

Lobbyists were still under the impression that the February Council was going ahead, but then they would be wouldn't they. How else would they claim their expenses?

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