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STRANG PLEDGES PRIORITY FOR TRANSPORT SAFETY AT EU

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UK transport minister Gavin Strang has put safety at the heart of his European presidency agenda when he set out a ...
UK transport minister Gavin Strang has put safety at the heart of his European presidency agenda when he set out a plan for an annual report on transport safety across the EU, aimed at reducing transport-related deaths and injuries across the Community.

Speaking in Brussels, Dr Strang said:

'The prime minister, Tony Blair, has made it clear that we are determined that the UK will concentrate on issues which are of immediate relevance and importance to the lives of European citizens.

That is why we are putting safety at the top of the transport agenda in Europe.

'I want the EU to give priority to reducing the number of its citizens who are killed or seriously injured while travelling.

'In the longer term, I want to see an authoritative annual report, setting out the figures for deaths and injuries across transport modes and member states. This would be used by ministers and the people of Europe to pinpoint areas of concern where we need to work together to improve safety.

'We need to identify areas of concern where death rates are too high, and also to encourage member states to focus on best practice where countries are successfully working to drive down further the number of unnecessary deaths.

'We already know that around 45,000 of people are killed each year on European roads. During our presidency I want to set in motion a process which will eventually result in effective action to save lives,' he explained.

Further safety measures the UK intends to progress include:

- defining the EU's blueprint for a new European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA) to ensure that across Europe all countries, not just the EU, match the standards of the best in aviation safety:

- pressing for agreement on a new Directive on approvals for ferry operators which will help ensure that doubtful operators are stopped before they start new ferry services.

Dr Strang highlighted other areas where he hoped to make progress during the presidency, including:

- progress on Denied Boarding compensation measures, which will offer a better deal for passengers who find themselves thrown off over-booked aircraft;

- computer reservation systems - a measure to give consumers better information when they are making their travel plans;

- a Directive on NOx emissions from aircraft to reduce air pollution;

- a Directive on roadside checks on commercial vehicles, covering emissions in particular;

- waste reception facilities at ports - a law requiring polluting materials on ships to be disposed of properly in port and not at sea;

- Trans European Networks (TENS) - a conference on 24 February to discuss the Public Private Partnerships approach to infrastructure development.

Dr Strang added:

'All this amounts to a full and ambitious programme which I look forward to advancing during our presidency. I can also confirm that

the deputy prime minister, John Prescott, will be chairing a joint council of transport and environment ministers in June which will

promote the integration of policiesin these two fields.'

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