Stronger competition on European railways
On 16 June, the Council agreed on streamlined rules for European railway and railway infrastructure companies, which should enhance investment and improve market supervision in this sector and increase its competitiveness. The draft directive merges, updates and simplifies the three main EU legal acts on railways to create a single European railway area.
The new legal act aims at improving competition between railway undertakings by making rail market access conditions more transparent.
In particular, it reinforces the independence of railway infrastructure (such as railway stations, freight terminals and maintenance facilities) operators from the companies that use that infrastructure. This separation is an important factor to allow companies to have non-discriminatory access to railway-related services.
National regulatory authorities will have more powers to impose sanctions or to carry out audits to ensure proper implementation of the directive. Cooperation between regulators on cross-border issues will also be enhanced.
Longer-term planning should improve financing of rail infrastructure, as it will offer more certainty to investors. In addition, the charging rules will be adapted so as to give incentives to modernise infrastructure.
The agreement by the member states (known as the "general approach") enables the Council to start negotiations with the European Parliament, whose approval is also required for the final adoption of this directive.
Press release (pdf)
Press conference webcast