European Commission asks Netherlands to fully implement railway interoperability directive aimed at enabling rail sector to compete more effectively with other transport modes; country has two months to take steps, avoid legal action

BRUSSELS , January 26, 2012 (press release) – The European Commission has today asked the Netherlands to fully implement a directive concerning railway interoperability, which is aimed at enabling the rail sector to compete more effectively with other transport modes. The Netherlands have so far failed to notify the Commission of all measures taken to fully implement directive 2008/57/EC into national law. The Commission's request takes the form of a reasoned opinion under EU infringement procedures. If the Netherlands fails to inform the Commission within two months of the measures it has taken to ensure full compliance with EU law, the Commission could refer the case to the European Court of Justice.

The EU rules

Directive 2008/57/EC aims to achieve interoperability within the European rail transport system, in order to improve the rail sector's competitive position in relation to other transport modes, especially road transport. This includes setting standards for the design, construction, placing in service, upgrading, renewal, operation and maintenance of parts of the railway system. This also applies to the professional qualifications and health and safety conditions of the staff contributing to its operation and maintenance. The directive defines the procedures for authorising the placing into service of vehicles and the content of the technical specifications for interoperability, as well as the procedures for adopting, reviewing and publishing them.

The reason for today's action

The Netherlands has failed to notify the Commission of all measures taken to completely enforce the new directive although required to do so by 19 July 2010

The practical effect of non-implementation

Not fully implementing this directive negatively could risk disrupting the internal market for rail. This would prevent people and goods from moving around more easily using railways as a safe and environmentally‑friendly mode of transport. This affects not only the Netherlands, but the entire European single railway area.

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