On February 28, a group of EU MEPs, transport workers, and unions protested the European Commission’s undemocratic attempt to force the liberalisation of public transport by rail and road without involving the Council and the European Parliament.
The European Commission wants to make competitive tendering the norm in a desperate push for more liberalisation of public transport services. Currently, EU regulation on Public Service Obligation (PSO), up to 2023 and beyond, competent authorities in each EU Member State can choose to award rail and road public service directly to their own operators or through competitive tendering. The European Commission is trying to change this by adopting interpretative guidelines to the regulation, which requires no Council or European Parliament involvement. In other words, the European Commission is trying to reinvent the rules without any democratic procedure.
EU MEPs Karima Delli, Ciaran Cuffe, Tilly Metz, Andreas Schieder, and Agnes Jongerius had joined ETF’s leaders Frank Moreels and Livia Spera, along with trade unionists from Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Ireland, and Norway to speak out against the EC’s actions.
Symbolically, during the action, a minute of silence was held for the EU’s failing democracy, emphasising the need to protect democracy and the future of public transport.
Today, at the repeated invitation of the European Parliament’s TRAN Committee, the European Commission finally attended the committee meeting to discuss the draft guidelines in question. The European Parliament reiterated that they will not accept any attempt by the European Commission to alter the spirit of the Public Service Obligation (PSO) regulation without involving the Council and Parliament in a co-decision procedure. MEPs have expressed regret that the EC has not presented any text regarding the issue, causing upheaval among all parties concerned.
More privatisation in rail and road transport would bring poorer working conditions, less staff, and more expensive tickets and defeat the purpose of public transport to serve the public interest and make transport accessible to all.
ETF’s leaders, President Frank Moreels and General Secretary Livia Spera stressed that transport workers are fed up with the current state of the transport industry, which is already too liberalised. The sector suffers from a shortage of workers, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to find people willing to work in transport. Yet, the European Commission continues to disregard the voices of the workers who power the industry.
If things do not improve, these workers may not even show up at the polls to vote as they continue to lose faith in the EU and its leaders.
The ETF will continue to work alongside the European Parliament to protect democracy and restore people’s and transport workers’ trust in the EU and the European Social Model as we approach the 2024 elections.
More photos from the action can be found here.
To find out more about PSO:
Public Service Obligations (PSO) Guidelines: The European Commission’s push for liberalisation