Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Does Europe want Germany to run all its railways?

Monday, 21 January 2013
Lord Berkeley issues an impassioned plea to member states after the latest move to deliver a single market and liberalisation is delayed for 'further discussion'
The European Commission has produced a 4th Railway Package designed, once and for all after 20 years of trying, to introduce the single market and liberalisation to Europe’s railways to achieve  growth, cost reductions, competition and better service quality. Having consulted widely, the draft Directive was approved by the College of Commissioners on 9 January 2013.

Then along goes Dr Grube, Chairman of DB, to Angela Merkel in the German Chancellery, and demands that Merkel gets the draft withdrawn unless the clauses on restructuring of the railways are removed.

Merkel phones EC President Barroso, passing on the demand; he discusses it with Vice-President Kallas, Commissioner for Transport, who has firmly supported the 4th RP all the way, and the discussions open again with other Commissioners, further delaying discussion on it in the Parliament and Council of Ministers.

Now France enters the fray. French Commissioner Barnier writes to Barroso (17 January) threatening social unrest.  

“One should not underestimate social and political unrest that may stem from the perception that the EU is aiming at dismantling bodies of professionals which are cemented by a strong corporate culture and a long history without it being absolutely indispensable for a well-functioning competitive market”.    

While of course supporting the Commission – but not now!  

“Like you, firmly committed that the liberalisation of the market can only work effectively if strictly independence of IM is ensured”, he could have added – but not in my political lifetime!

So now the package is delayed by another few weeks for “further discussion”. There will be more heavy lobbying by Germany and France, the two member states pressing hardest to preserve their monopolistic structures, but who are themselves the subject of legal challenges for failure to implement the European laws they approved over ten years ago, fines for competition abuse or both.

Other member states must stand up and state clearly: we do not want DB to operate all our railways and dictate European rail policy!  

We do want this package as a whole; splitting it in parts and seeking to delay the parts Germany and France do not like will not work, as the elements are all inter-related.

After 20 years debating and, in the case of Germany and France, resisting any liberalisation, it is time for this essential liberalisation legislation to be published as one package – it is the only way to enable the railways to grow in efficiency, traffic volumes and customer service, not to forget the strong environmental benefits!


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