Draft rules voted in the Transport and Tourism Committee aim to boost competition, ensure non-discrimination and simplify authorisation procedures for interurban coach services.

“We have a good text that keeps the spirit of the Commission’s proposal alive in making the first steps towards integrating the coach market whilst at the same time ensuring that well-functioning national models are protected,” said rapporteur Roberts Zile (ECR, LV).

“Operators of coach services should be able to freely offer national services without being subject to discrimination or arbitrary rules. However, we are proposing to open the markets wisely so that the extent of liberalisation is compatible with legitimate national priorities, and that it benefits the carriers, the taxpayers and most importantly the passengers,” he added.

More opportunities and no discrimination of new operators

MEPs backed proposals to allow operators from another member state to seek authorisation to provide services in national markets, but also adopted safeguards to ensure that public services are not undermined. Member states should also be able to require establishment of the company in the member state where services are provided, before the carrier starts to operate, they say.

To provide greater clarity for operators who want to start new services, the draft rules would harmonise the administrative procedures for applying for authorisation to provide services for national inter-urban and international coach services, setting clear deadlines for decisions and replies.

An independent regulatory authority would need to be designated in each EU country to avoid conflicts of interest and rules are defined on carriers’ access to terminals to ensure transparency of decisions and non-discrimination by terminal operators.

Public coach services must not be undermined

To ensure that services run under public service obligations are not undermined, authorisations for new services within and between EU countries can be denied if these undermine services provided under public service contracts. Urban and suburban areas are excluded from the scope of the rules.

Transport MEPs also want the authorities to have the right to suspend or withdraw authorisations for international coach services if these compromise the economic equilibrium of a public service contract.

Authorisation for access to a national market could also be denied if the applicant seeking to enter the market is planning to offer services below their normal value for an extended period of time, thus undermining fair competition, MEPs say.

Next steps

The draft report now need to be voted by the full house of the Parliament.

Source: European Parliament