Skogsholm and Barrot debate future transportation challenges

Torild Skogsholm, Minister of Transport and Communications, met with EU Vice-President and Commissioner for transport, Jacques Barrot 28 February to discuss issues of common interest to Norway and the EU. The high-profiled issues included traffic safety, infrastructure charging, aviation and railroads.

15/02/2006 :: Both Skogsholm and Barrot agreed that the high level of traffic fatalities is a major problem to public health in Europe and needs to be countered by changing driver behaviors. Such counter-measures include efforts to increase the use of seat belts and decreasing the number of people driving under the influence of alcohol and narcotics.

Norway is a recognized expert on traffic safety with well-established traffic safety measures based on long-term research. As a result of this work the number of casualties has been halved since 1970 although traffic has tripled in the same period. 

Barrot requested continued Norwegian contributions in the follow-up of the European Road Safety Action Programme, which aims at decrease traffic fatalities in EU Member States from 50.000 to 25.000 by 2010. 

Norway supports the intentions behind the Commission’s proposal for a single framework for road-infrastructure charging of heavy lorries. Skogsholm said that Norway acknowledges the need to improve the efficiency and productivity of the road transport sector as a whole, aiming at sustainable mobility, through “getting the prices right”.

Skogsholm held nonetheless that it is essential for the framework legislation to allow for Member State flexibility in regards to their current arrangements, which would allow Norway to maintain its current road toll system. Barrot supported Member States flexibility, but also underlined the need for common and stringent framework legislation. 

Skogsholm and Barrot discussed at length third-country relations in the field of aviation. The EU Community Designation Clause for air carriers is a matter of great concern to Norway since the Commission has informed Norway that carriers from EEA/EFTA States cannot be included in this clause.

Skogsholm said that this might in certain instances create a fragmentation of the single aviation market and may also cause instances of discrimination. Both parties said ongoing informal discussions should continue in the attempt to find a practical solution.

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Minister of Transport and Communications, Torild Skogsholm, visited Brussels. Photo: Anne Grethe Nilsen, EU-del.