The Transport Council adopted a political agreement on three technical legislative acts of the fourth railway package at its session in Luxembourg on 5 June 2014. EU Transport Ministers discussed the Commission’s proposal on facilitating the transport of lorries that are longer and have a heavier weight than the currently used ones. The Hungarian delegation evaluated the transport achievements of the past four years and transferred the duties of the V4 Presidency to Slovakia, the country next to fill this position.

The technical pillar of the fourth railway package introduces a brand new regime for vehicle licensing and safety certification, the central organ of which will be the to be established European Railway Agency. Despite the transfer of authority, the national safety authorities with indispensable expertise may continue to have significant roles in the processes. In view of the adequate compromise that was reached during the council debate, the Hungarian delegation endorsed the initiative. The priority elements of the final version, which created a balanced harmony between the original proposal of the Commission and the expectations of Member States, are main principles on establishing duties and fees and guarantees for the use of Member State languages.

The Hungarian delegation made it clear that they could support the proposal facilitating the transport of trucks of a larger size than those currently allowed on the exclusive condition that the provision on megatrucks was removed. The position of the European Commission is that the cross-border transport of lorries above the weight of 40 t or the length of 18.75 m is lawful if only one border is crossed and both member states concerned allow road use in their inland traffic. Going beyond the initiative, several delegations demanded that licensing such transport should not only depend on the two neighbouring countries but also on several other Member States. According to the firmly represented counterarguments, the longer and heavier vehicles would accelerate the deterioration of the road infrastructure and involve increased risk for transport safety. As a result of the debate, the Transport Council adopted the political agreement without a new rule on megatrucks.

At a French initiative, the Council also dealt with the issue of a potential future harmonisation of the implementation of rules on the road freight transport market and on cabotage within the former, as well as related social provisions. At various EU forums, several Member States have recently charged foreign businesses engaged in freight transport in their territories with social dumping. Responding to the charges, Hungary, V4 countries, Romania, Bulgaria and the Baltic States issued a common political statement saying that the issue of road cabotage was treated properly in current legislation. They urged improving the enforcement of the current rules on cabotage, supported firm action against those violating the rules and pointed out that regular joint controls by national authorities could facilitate establishing a uniform EU control practice. The Hungarian delegation emphasised that the first step would be to discuss in detail the Commission’s report on the road freight transport market. The delegation warned that a considerate decision was required considering the current economic environment and emphasised that they could not endorse a proposal that, instead of supporting market operation, would lay further administrative burden on the road freight transport sector.

At the meeting of the senior transport officials of the Visegrád Countries, Minister of State for Infrastructure Pál Völner elaborated on the achievements attained in the field of transport during the Hungarian presidency, whose term is to be completed at the end of the first half of the year. The most important development has been setting up the High Level Working Group on developing North-South transport connections. The organ responsible for coordinating the transport strategies and development plans of V4 States adopted its schedule at their session in Budapest in late May. By the end of September, parties are to compile a list of road, railway, inland waterway and port developments to be implemented on the international networks in the financing period to start this year. By the end of 2016, they are to work out a common position on the joint transport infrastructure projects to be implemented after 2021. Pál Völner expressed appreciation of the fruitful cooperation of Visegrád countries and their concerted stance in several regulatory issues of great significance, the common statements issued in questions like the public passenger transport services by rail or the Single European Sky initiative. From the second half of the year, the position of V4 Presidency is to be transferred from Hungary to Slovakia.

(Prime Minister's Office)