The European Parliament, meeting in Strasbourg on 17 July 1996, approved, by a majority of over 300 votes, the compromise text agreed in conciliation with the Council on 17 June 1996 on the guidelines for the trans-European transport networks (TENs). The Parliament's rapporteur for the transport TENs, Mr. Wilhelm Piecyk, told MEPs that Parliament had got a compromise deal that could be approved, especially with the inclusion of an article on the environment and a commitment to priority projects. Although some MEPs were not satisfied with the compromise, many of the complaints related to procedural matters and the relations between the Parliament and Council. Rejection at this stage would have meant the proposal would have fallen, and the job creation and infrastructure improvements which would result from the construction of the TENs would be seriously delayed or jeopardized. The large majority in favour indicates that MEPs were unwilling to restart the legislative process on TENs, which has already taken more than two years. The final stage in the process for the transport TENs is the approval by the Council of Ministers of the compromise text, which has to take place before the end of July. Following this, the guidelines for the TENs will become law, and funding for the priority projects can be released from the TENs budget line for 1996 and beyond. The Parliament also approved on 17 July the second reading on the guidelines for the trans-European telecommunications networks, adopting a number of amendments to the Council's common position. This is the third of the major TENs to be discussed, with the energy networks already made law. The telecommunications guidelines will now be returned to the Council, but again it is likely that conciliation will be needed to resolve the differences between the Council and Parliament.
Policy making and guidelines
24 June 1996