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Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council (TTE)

 

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Since June 2002 these three policies have been placed under the sole responsibility of a single Council configuration which meets approximately every two months. The composition of the Council varies according to the items on the agenda (Ministers for Transport, Telecommunications or Energy).

The EU's objective in the field of transport, telecommunications and energy is to establish modern and efficient systems that are viable in economic, social and environmental terms. The harmonious and sustainable development of infrastructures is crucial to the smooth functioning of the internal market and to the  Union 's economic and social cohesion.

To achieve this, the Council has, since the nineties, contributed to the introduction of trans‑European transport, energy and telecommunications networks. These networks respond to the overall objective of economic and social cohesion, which is of particular importance for the coming years in view of enlargement and the need to connect the large trans-European networks to the projects under way in the new countries of the  Union .

The Council has also adopted the European GPS known as GALILEO, the European satellite navigation system which is designed for civilian purposes, is open to international cooperation and will be exploited commercially.

The TTE Council's three areas of activity are as follows:

–        Transport

Transport is one of the foremost common Community policies by virtue of its contribution to the free movement of persons and goods. Article 71 of the Treaty establishes the content of the common transport policy as follows:

common rules applicable to international transport affecting the Member States;

the conditions under which non-resident carriers may operate transport services within a  Member State ;

measures to improve transport safety.

In this area, the Council acts by a qualified majority, in codecision with the European Parliament. In respect of provisions which might seriously affect the standard of living and level of employment in certain regions and the operation of transport facilities, the Council acts unanimously in consultation with the European Parliament.

The Council has been very actively addressing the many questions raised as a result of the opening of borders (market-access rules, safety, traffic management, interoperability, recognition of qualifications, technical rules, etc.) and the different modes of transport concerned (road, rail, air, inland waterway and maritime).

Measures taken at Community level initially related to the establishment of a fully integrated internal market. Today, now that the objective of an internal transport market has largely been achieved, the main challenge is to establish a "sustainable mobility" system, in other words a system of transport which optimises energy consumption as well as transport time, routes and conditions.

–       Energy

Energy policy is essentially the remit of the Member States. The Treaty contains no specific chapter on energy. However, energy policy is included among the Community's objectives and is mentioned in the Treaty titles on environment and trans-European networks (which cover, inter alia, energy infrastructures).

The objectives pursued in this area have mainly consisted in guaranteeing an affordable energy supply for all consumers, with due regard for environmental protection and the promotion of healthy competition on the European energy market. In the context of the Kyoto Protocol, now more than ever the improvement of energy efficiency has become an important element of Community strategy.

Against that backdrop, the Council is examining the measures needed to ensure an adequate level of security of gas, oil and electricity supplies in the Community. Other proposals are intended to promote renewable energy sources or specific measures for energy management (buildings, biofuels, etc.).

Furthermore, the Council is working towards the establishment of a legislative framework for ensuring the smooth functioning of a competitive internal market in electricity while preserving the security of supply in electricity and ensuring a sufficient interconnection between Member States via general, transparent and non-discriminatory policies.

With enlargement, the Council is considering new proposals on the trans-European energy network in the electricity and gas sectors in order to make it more efficient.

Another aspect of the EU's energy policy concerns nuclear energy. This area is a responsibility of the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) established in 1957 by a different Treaty than the one establishing the European Community. EURATOM's main task is to research and develop the peaceful use of nuclear energy, draw up uniform safety standards and establish a common market in nuclear-energy equipment.

–      Telecommunications

The Council is working on the four objectives considered to be a priority in this area at European Union level:

the establishment of a Europe-wide integrated network;

the introduction of the information society;

the opening up of national markets;

the elimination of the regulatory disparities between Member States with regard to prices, standards, market-access conditions, public procurement, etc.

The  Union  has launched several measures to open up its markets more widely to competition, particularly in certain key sectors, and to promote investment in research.

The eEurope initiative is designed to provide everyone in the European Union with easy access to the Internet as rapidly as possible. The priority is on the introduction and use of broadband networks throughout the  Union by 2005, the security of networks and information, online administration ("eGovernment"), online learning ("eLearning"), online health services ("eHealth") and electronic commerce ("eBusiness").