Positions 13 Sep 2012

Initial Views on European Commission Guidelines on the Interpretation of the Public Service Regulation

Regulation 1370/2007 on public passenger transport services by rail and by road1 has been applied in the European Union since 3 December 2009. One year after its application, the European Commission ordered a study from external consultants on its effective implementation in the EU, which was delivered in October 20102. In their study, the Commission’s consultants recommend that the European Commission clarifies a certain number of issues through the adoption of Guidelines.

In this paper, CER expresses initial views on a number of issues of concern some of which may have been flagged by the consultants.

Before outlining specific issues of concern, CER would like to restate the basic rule set in article 1 of Regulation 1370/2007, i.e. any public service obligation (PSO) has to be compensated3. Today, despite this basic rule, there are still PSO Rail undertakings (RUs) under or un-compensated4. This is an unacceptable situation the Commission has to address promptly.

Furthermore, it is important to underline that PSO traffic is a commercial activity: it is not because it is financed by public authorities that it must be considered negatively or not driven by commercial purposes and factors. As with any commercial activity, it calls for various elements: quality of service; efficiency/value for money; and reward for good performance. As a consequence, reasonable profit MUST be a reality and not only an option. The same applies to on-time payment.

CER also wishes to draw the attention of the European Commission to important interpretation discrepancies between the different language versions of the Regulation. Examples are provided in Section VII of this paper. These discrepancies already lead to diverging interpretations at national level.