Minister of State for Infrastructure Pál Völner headed the Hungarian delegation at the Brussels meeting of the transport ministries of EU Member States on 14 March, 2014. The participants approved a general approach to the regulation proposal on the European Railway Agency (ERA).

The compromise reached on the proposal that is part of the fourth railway package offers agreeable solutions to the concerns earlier raised in relation to the original proposals of the Commission. According to the draft, the European Railway Agency will be in the centre of the Union’s vehicle licensing and security certification regime, which is to undergo a fundamental renewal. The amendments implemented will make it possible for the national safety authorities with significant expertise to have sufficient role in the procedures despite the fact that certain competences have been transferred to the ERA. The core principles laid down for establishing charges and fees may prove suitable for considering the solvency of enterprises and sustaining the opportunity of acquiring or maintaining market access for minor players. The wording guarantees national safety authorities the use of national languages during procedures, thereby avoiding generating unjustified translation expenses.

Participants also supported the Council initiative to establish a joint undertaking called Shift2Rail. The organisation meant to coordinate railway research in the EU is planned to have a financing framework of at least EUR 920 million to allocate. About half of the resources are to be donated by industrial corporations and research institutes. It is expected that, through the programme, Member States will have access to the technologies newly developed from significant EU support at preferential prices.

The parties held a policy debate on the Commission Communication on urban mobility. The recommendations aimed to coordinate policy frameworks stimulate the sharing of good practices, encourage working out and improving sustainable urban mobility plans, envisage targeted financial support and wish to speed up R&D and innovative developments.

Pál Völner said Hungary fully supported the Commission initiative that the urban dimension of a competitive and sustainable transport system should be given enhanced attention at the EU-level policy. He believed that EU subsidies for the 2014–2020 period, especially the European structural and investment funds, could be well used for the implementation of urban mobility strategies and measures. In its operational programmes planned for the seven-year period, including the Integrated Transport Development Operational Programme, Hungary wished to spend almost EUR 1 billion on the improvement of urban and suburban mobility, the Minister of State added.

(Ministry of National Development Communications Department)