The European Commission has given guidance on EU rules for public passenger transport services by rail and by road. The rules determine how public authorities across Europe may contract for the provision of public transport services by rail, metro, tram or bus, how to award these contracts and how to compensate for public service obligations. By providing guidelines on key provisions of the rules, the Commission is now enhancing legal certainty for all actors in public transport
European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for mobility and transport, said: “The public transport sector needs clear rules to be competitive and to provide us all with modern mobility solutions. We have listened very carefully to where clarification was needed. These new guidelines provide this clarity and will enhance legal certainty for all public transport actors in the EU.”
The rules (Regulation (EC) No 1370/2007) have major importance for the organisation and financing of public transport services across the EU. Coherent and correct application is key for the success of the internal market, which can offer cost-effective and high quality public transport services. A well-functioning public transport sector also contributes to alleviating congestion and the impact of transport on the environment. Finally, efficient public transport services will have a positive impact on the economy: public transport represents about 1% of GDP and 1% of total employment in the European Union.
Diverging interpretations of this regulation hamper the creation of an Internal Market for public transport and lead to undesired market distortions. An external assessment of the implementation of the regulation recommended that the Commission issues interpretative guidance on certain provisions of the regulation. Representatives of European associations and of Member States confirmed the need for guidelines on the interpretation of this complex piece of legislation.
Authorities responsible for the organisation of public transport and transport operators will benefit from the guidance provided by the European Commission. Competent authorities will have more legal certainty when applying EU rules for the award of public service contracts and on schemes of compensating for public service obligations. Public transport operators will also benefit from more legal clarity, as it will enable them to better organise their business at a European scale.
Member States and European transport associations were fully involved in the process of preparation of the interpretative guidelines.
The guidelines adopted today provide clarity on, amongst other things:
- the definition of public service obligations,
- the duration of public service contracts,
- the social protection of workers,
- the conditions of competitive and direct awards of public service contracts,
- the rules on compensating public service obligations,
- transparency rules and
- transitional arrangements.
The guidelines will not imply any costs to stakeholders as they will not — indeed cannot — create new obligations. They do not modify the existing rules, but aim at facilitating the implementation of Regulation 1370/2007.