14 February 2019
ECR MEP Roberts Zīle’s report aimed at liberalising coach and bus markets throughout the EU has been approved by the European Parliament today. Welcoming the outcome, which should help new entrants enter previously closed domestic markets, Zile said: “We have voted to take the first steps towards integrating the coach market, but at the same time ensured that certain well functioning national services are protected,”
Zīle, who will now steer the proposals through negotiations with the Council stresses that while the report maintains the underlying spirit of the proposal, it also ensures takes into account current public service contracts in member states are not undermined, and fair competition against the potential abuse of market power is safeguarded.
To provide greater clarity for operators looking to start new services, the new rules will harmonise authorisation procedures across the EU, setting clear deadlines for decisions and replies. Rules are defined on carriers’ access to bus terminals An independent regulatory authority will be designated in each EU country to handle authorisations, and, to ensure transparency of decisions and non-discrimination by terminal operators. To ensure that services run under public service obligations are not undermined, new clauses have been introduced allowing authorisations to be declined if they will undermine publicly contracted services, while urban and suburban areas are excluded from the scope of the new rules.
“Operators of coach services should be able to freely offer national services without being subject to discrimination or arbitrary rules. However, we are only proposing to open markets to the point that they are compatible with important and established local services, which will benefit taxpayers and most importantly the passengers.
“A lack of competition is always bad for consumers and the economy in any market, and the bus and coach sector is no different. Opening services and routes to competition would reduce prices for consumers, boost mobility and have a positive impact across the economy. It was however important to exempt routes in urban areas that form part of much wider travel networks and form an important aspect of local communities.”
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