The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER), the European Parliament (EP) and the Committee of the Regions (CoR) concur on the need to increase investments in railway infrastructure. The debate held at the EESC shows that investment, rather than prescriptive tendering of domestic services, can deliver a step change in the quality of railway services.
In order to stimulate the debate on the influence of competition on the quality of railway services, the EESC joined forces with the CER and organised a well-attended event on 3 September. Speakers included MEP and EP Vice-President Isabelle Durant, MEP Mathieu Grosch, EESC Member André Mordant, CER Executive Director Libor Lochman, and Committee of the Regions Member Pascal Mangin, as well as the Head of Unit at the European Commission’s DG MOVE, Eddy Liégeois.
During the event, the speakers reached a consensus that the level of investment in railway infrastructure needed to be increased substantially if the ambitious goals set by the European Commission White Paper on Transport of 2011 were to be met. They also agreed that, in terms of improving the quality of railway services, the key factor that would lead to a real step change was the level of investment, rather than the kind of prescriptive solution concerning the opening up domestic markets for competition envisioned by the European Commission.
It was noted that one area which needed particular focus was overcoming the interoperability barriers which still severely hamper cross‑border services. Both the EESC and the CER share the view that the Railway Package's technical pillar should therefore be prioritised.
In terms of social aspects, it was proposed that transparent and precise criteria should be specified when new contracts are awarded. This would imply, for example, that national social standards should be respected and applied in all award proceedings to ensure that workers' rights are safeguarded and skilled rail workers maintain their jobs.
For the live recording of the discussions and a full picture gallery of the participants please follow the link: http://www.eesc.europa.eu/?i=portal.en.events-and-activities-4th-railway-package-follow-up-event