EU TRANSPORT MINISTERS CONCERNED OVER OIL CRISIS
Transport ministers of the governments of the European Union and senior officials of the European Commission have expressed concern over the effects of the oil crisis on the transport sector during a meeting in Luxembourg Wednesday.
The European council meeting was held specifically to discuss the impact of high oil prices on transport policy in Europe, in the wake of protests and blockades by truckers and other interest groups throughout Europe. Traffic in several European ports and city centers has been stopped, intermittently, over the past two weeks by truckers demanding lower fuel prices.
In a joint statement, the transport ministers said “they believe that the present level of the price of oil and its sudden and continual fluctuations are having a major impact on the transport sector and are particularly affecting those modes of transport for which fuel is a decisive element in the price of the service provided.” The government ministers said they consider that the European Union, as a major customer, “should ask OPEC to introduce measures to supply the market in a manner better suited to consumer demand.”
The transport officials called for new measures to promote intermodal transport, for the accelerated introduction of the Trans-European Rail Freight Network and for implementation of the previously announced policy of revitalizing the rail sector.
The transport ministers also said they would favor the introduction of measures to avoid unfair competition caused by differences in working conditions between truckers in EU countries and third countries.
The statement did not commit European governments to cuts in tax levied on gas.
The council of transport ministers recommended setting up a “European forum” at the European Commission, consisting of representatives of the management and employees of transport firms, truckers, their customers, and experts. The forum would “examine all the factors affecting the competitiveness of transport and … consider adjustments to the structures in this sector.”