Transport ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Monday (29 October) are expected to reject a European Commission proposal to ease access for new airlines by making it harder for large airlines to keep their historical take-off and landing slots at airports.
Under a Commission proposal to update 1993 rules on airport slot allocation, a slot would be confiscated if it is being used less than 85% of the time. The current threshold is 80%. The Commission is also proposing to raise the minimum number of slots requested for a series from five to 15. But most member states want to keep the existing thresholds, citing the need to retain flexibility for airlines.
Ministers are expected to give more of a welcome to the Commission's concept of a secondary trading system on which airlines would be able to buy and sell slots. This type of system is already in place in the UK, but some countries – including Spain – ban the practice. Some member states want the right to apply restrictions on the trading, but they are expected to be outvoted.
Member states will authorise the signing and application of an agreement with Eurocontrol that will set up an enhanced co-operation framework, in which it will become the regulator of the Single European Sky Programme of unified multinational airspace blocs. MEPs called on 23 October for the urgent merging of national air-traffic control spaces across the EU and the creation of a genuine single European sky.
Ministers are also likely to support a first-reading agreement reached with the Parliament on enhancing safety for commercial vehicles – the regulation on tachographs, which record time and distance driven; the new rules aim at preventing fraud while reducing red tape.
Agreement will also be sought on the implementation of the Maritime Labour Convention, which the EU signed with the Internat-ional Labour Organisation in 2006.
Ministers will also discuss a Commission proposal to extend mandatory vehicle roadworthiness tests to motorbikes.