Alternative fuels infrastructure - general approach reached
On 5 December 2013 the Council adopted a general approach on a proposal concerning alternative fuels infrastructure and discussed the telecommunications single market.
The proposed directive on the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure, which forms part of the Clean Power for Transport initiative, aims to build up a minimum number of recharge points and refuelling stations across the EU.
The presidency compromise proposal provides for full flexibility as regards setting national infrastructure targets, in order to give member states enough time to carry out a comprehensive analysis of their situation and establish accurate numbers.
Based on reports submitted by member states, the Commission will publish national targets for all types of infrastructure. The minimum infrastructure should be in place by 2030.
The general approach will enable the Council to start informal negotiations on the proposal with the European Parliament.
Alternative fuels, such as electricity, hydrogen and natural gas, are urgently needed to break the dependence of European transport on fossil fuels and cut back greenhouse gas emissions. Transport in Europe is 94% dependent on oil, 84 % of which is imported, with costs of up to €1 billion per day and increasing damage to the environment.
The full deployment of alternative fuels has been held back by three main barriers:
- the high retail cost of vehicles
- a low level of consumer acceptance
- the lack of infrastructure for recharging and refuelling.
Putting in place sufficient infrastructure and setting common standards across the EU are considered crucial to boosting market demand for alternative fuels.
Telecommunications single market
EU telecommunications ministers held a first policy debate on a proposal for a regulation aimed at amending the EU telecommunications regulatory framework.
The proposed regulation, which is part of the Connected Continent package, aims to move towards a single market for electronic communications in which:
- citizens and businesses can use electronic communications services across the EU without cross-border restrictions or unjustified additional costs
- companies providing electronic communications networks and services can operate regardless of where they are established or where their customers are situated in the EU.
The proposal will also contribute to the completion of the Digital Single Market by 2015.
EU-Brazil air transport agreement
The Council also mandated the Commission to reopen negotiations with Brazil on a comprehensive air transport agreement. The aim of the agreement is gradual opening of market access and enhanced regulatory cooperation.