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Towards a common charges system for EU airports


07 Oct 2008


Trade & Society

Common principles for levying charges at Community airports are set out in a second-reading report, adopted by the Transport Committee on Tuesday, on a proposed directive to prevent individual airports abusing a dominant position on the market. MEPs want the rules to apply to airports with an annual throughput of over 5 million passengers per year, whereas the Commission had proposed one million.

Safeguarding consumer interests
At Parliament's request, the proposal also provides for mechanisms for consulting airport users, and for resolving disputes between users and airports. MEPs say these are necessary to establish a level playing field for economic operators and ultimately also to safeguard consumer interests.
Small airports exempted
MEPs say (and the Council agrees) that applying the rules to smaller airports, with under one million passengers a year, would have imposed administrative and bureaucratic burdens, to no great effect, on airports that are not in competition due to geographic and structural factors. However, the Directive will apply to the largest airport in each Member State, irrespective of passenger numbers.

Clear, objective criteria
The committee also saw to it that any differentiation in airports' charges  will have to be based on transparent and objective criteria. The Council Common Position, published on 23 June, also makes it clear that there should be a national independent supervisory body, rather than merely regional ones, which is also in line with Parliament's position. The Committee also won a tighter definition of an "airport network", which means one that is operated by the same management body.
Disadvantaged and outermost regions
Transport Ministers also accept that incentives should be permitted for new routes to disadvantaged and outermost regions and that uniform charging systems may be applied by management bodies serving the same network only on the basis of transparent criteria.
Disabled and reduced-mobility passenger charges excluded
In addition to the above, charges for providing services to disabled and reduced-mobility passengers mobility will be excluded from the scope of the Directive.

Amendments to the Common Position
The Council had already given a formal written commitment to accept a further series of parliamentary amendments if tabled at the second reading. These amendments deal with pre-financing of airport investments and link pre-financing to ICAO policies and the need for safeguards. Firm deadlines for the publication of decisions on charges are also laid down in the proposal.
Airports concerned
Alicante, Amsterdam, Athens; Barcelona, Berlin (Schoenefeld and Tegel), Birmingham, Bourgas, Bratislava, Bristol, Brussels (Zaventem), Bucharest,  Budapest, Catania, Dublin, Düsseldorf, Edinburgh, Faro, Frankfurt, Glasgow, Gran Canaria, Hamburg, Hannover, Helsinki, Iraklion, Kobenhavn,  Köln/Bonn, Lanzarote, Larnaka, Lisboa, Ljubljanna, London (Gatwick, Heathtrow, Luton and Stansted), Luxemburg, Lyon, Madrid/Barajas, Malaga, Malta, Manchester, Marseille-Provence,, Milano (Linate and Malpensa), München, Newcastle, Nice-Cote d'Azur, Pafos, Palma de Mallorca,  Paris (Charles de Gaulle and Orly), Praha, Riga, Rodos, Roma/Fiumicino, Sofia, Stockholm, Stuttgart, Tallinn, Tenerife, Timisoara, Toulouse (Blagnac and CCER), Varna, Venezia,  Vilnius, Warszawa and Wien.
What happens next?
Rapporteur Ulrich Stockmann (PES, DE) and the committee believe that the outcome of the vote should ensure fair and transparent competition among airports, without undue bias towards competition at airports (as opposed to safeguarding consumer interests) or towards competition among users who use different business models. This means that this co-decision procedure may now be concluded.

The report was approved unanimously (16 votes in favour, none against, no abstentions)

In the chair : Georg JARZEMBOWSKI (EPP-ED, DE) 
Procedure: co-decision, second reading - Plenary vote: October II, Strasbourg

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