John Redwood is indignant about the EU’s plans to, in his words: take control over all the main ports in the EU, establishing by direct EU regulation their right to determine how they are run and how they charge; and especially, again in his words: the EU’s wish to regulate the 47 largest ports in the UK.
In his article Redwood links to a Committee hearing held yesterday and it is worth looking at the list of attendees which include those who would have us believe that when they speak, they speak with the authority of knowledge – which sadly is obviously not the case; exemplified by the title of Redwood’s article.
Let us go back to basics for the uninitiated (in respect of those that attended the aforementioned committee meeting, it includes them) and look at competences. Transport in all its forms is listed as a shared competence in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). A shared competence means that both the EU and Member States may adopt legally binding acts in the area concerned, but Member State can only do so where the EU has not exercised its competence. In effect what this means is that once the EU has legislated on a particular subject, that subject becomes what is known as an ‘occupied field’ and Member States are barred from further legislation of their own – unless that is they have cleared it with Brussels.
Transport covers all such forms, be they air, land, sea, inland waterways, or road – and the EU exercised its competence on matters transport back in 1996. As I wrote on 29th April, this year:
TEN-T guidelines were initially adopted on 23 July 1996, with Decision No 1692/96/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on Community guidelines for the development of the trans-European transport network (TEN-T). In April 2004, the European Parliament and the Council adopted Decision No 884/2004/EC (added to the list by Decision No 884/2004/EC), amending Decision No 1692/96/EC on Community guidelines for the development of the trans-European transport network. The April 2004 revision was a more fundamental change to TEN-T policies, intended to accommodate EU enlargement and consequent changes in traffic flows.
For the avoidance of doubt that means the UK accepted the proposals and thus becomes bound to implement them.
If we look at Decision 1692/96/EC setting up the Trans European Network – Transport (TEN-T) we find that the objective is to integrate land, sea and air transport infrastructure networks throughout the Community (Article 2.1); so one has to ask how is this latest move by the EU a further power grab? The right to legislate on any form of transport was assumed by the EU on 23rd July 1996.
On the 29th April this year the EU issued a brochure: Ports 2030 Gateways for the Trans European Transport Network and from the Introduction by Siim Kallas we learn of the need to: establish a clear European legislative environment to guarantee equal conditions for competition and legal certainty.
Even back in 2007 The European Commission produced a Communication on Freight Transport Logistics which from the Introduction informs us that: Freight Transport Logistics focuses on the planning, organisation, management,
control and execution of freight transport operations in the supply chain.
Only this year, in March, the United Nations Economic Council – Europe (UNECE) issued a document about the Working Party on Intermodal Transport and Logistics (Wp.24) for a UNECE Workshop held in Brussels on 12 and 113th June this year.
Admittedly the foregoing provides only a very brief background to that of which Redwood complains; but if I can unearth this little in a few minutes, one can only ask what he and the remainder of the good, great and powerful have been doing? I might also suggest that instead of wasting time arguing about Points of Order, they could well have admitted that there is sod all they do can do about the matter; packed up and all had an early day.
Update: The following comment has been left on JOhn Redwood’s article:
Your article is utter tosh! It is NOT a power grab – they already have the competence to do all they want.
In 1996 you were in the HoC so what did you do to attempt to negate Decision 1692/96/EC, agreed by your Leader at the time?
Where were you in 2007 when the Communication on Freight Transport Logistics was published from which the Introduction informs us that: Freight Transport Logistics focuses on the planning, organisation, management, control and execution of freight transport operations in the supply chain.
Under Representative Democracy you want the right to take decisions on our behalf but also reserve the right to act as your conscience dictates.
Just why should we rely on those who so obviously know nothing about that on which they pontificate?