The European Commission’s proposals for a 4th Railway Package were amended by the majority of MEPs in the European Parliament by a vote on February 27. Many of you took the time to write to your MEP in February as part of our efforts with rail unions, led by the European Transport Federation (ETF), to campaign vigorously against the EC’s proposals. The vote by MEPs shows the difference we can all make when we act together. Thank you to everyone who took part!
Crucially, MEPs voted to reject the forced opening up of passenger rail travel in the single market, which would mean that future governments have a choice about how to run their passenger services, with public ownership still being an option. MEPS also voted for protections for workers so that operators would have to ensure decent employment and working conditions, complying with collective agreements in place, and more stringent requirements to justify the tendering of public service contracts (e.g. in regard to efficiency).
The proposals are still on the cards however, as the EC now has to respond formally to the decision of MEPs – they have the power to support the amendments, propose new changes or withdraw the proposals. Initial signs from the Commission are disappointing: Vice-President Slim Kallas said the vote was “yet another demonstration of the tenacity of the vested national interests that proved more appealing to MEPs than the balanced and well-reasoned compromises reached…by the Transport and Tourism Committee…”
Such a view on European democracy from the Commission is troubling to say the least, particularly considering the negative reaction to the MEPs amendments and support for the original proposals from established industry groups.
The 4th Railway Package would signal the death knell for public ownership, as success stories such as the popular East Coast Main Line would become a thing of the past, let alone public ownership of all of Britain’s railways.
Rail campaigners across Europe will continue to oppose the 4th Railway Package. We will be in touch soon with any updates. Your participation is essential to our campaign and we look forward to our next campaign action! Thank you again for taking part and for your support.