Transport markets within the EEA are being harmonised and opened up for competition, through non-discriminatory rules.
Liberalisation efforts have progressed at a varying pace in the different transport sectors, but one common denominator has been the desire to introduce greater competition in the provision of these essential services. One of the first sectors to see a significant change was air transport where, as a result of three successive packages in the 1990s, all EU and EEA airlines were granted equal rights of access to the EEA market. The EEA Agreement further ensures that road transport operators in an EEA Member State may transport goods freely to and from an EEA Member State.
Much work has been done to open up Europe’s rail transport market. Four successive legislative packages were adopted between 2001 and 2016 with the aim of gradually opening up rail transport service markets for competition, first in freight then in passenger transport. .
The maritime transport market has traditionally been a liberalised market. However, inside the European Union, the cabotage market was only opened up to competition in 1993. Legislation on cabotage gives EEA nationals the right to carry passengers or goods by sea between any ports of an EEA State.
As traffic levels continue to grow in Europe, improving safety is a priority in all modes of transport. The EEA Agreement contains extensive safety legislation for all modes of transport, ensuring a harmonised high level of safety throughout the EEA.
The European Maritime Safety Agency was established at the end of 2002. Its main tasks are to facilitate enhanced safety and to reduce accidents, marine pollution and loss of life at sea. The European Aviation Safety Agency was created in 2002 to help ensure a high level of safety and environmental protection in civil aviation. A European Railway Agency was created in 2004 to contribute to the creation of a European railway area without frontiers and the guarantee of a high level of safety.
The EEA EFTA Member States are members of all of these agencies.
Strengthening passenger rights is a high priority for the EU and the EEA EFTA States.
Passengers, especially those travelling by air, are often victims of overbooking, lengthy delays and sudden cancellations. A compensation scheme for air passengers is already in place, as well as legislation ensuring the rights of passengers with reduced mobility.
Similar schemes have been adopted for passengers when travelling by sea and inland waterway and for passengers in bus and coach transport.
Security has become an increasingly common concern at both European and global level, demanding a range of actions and solutions.
The prevention and avoidance of terrorist attacks against passengers and transport at EEA level has resulted in strict security legislation for aeroplanes and airports as well as ships and ports. In order to ensure the development of the necessary technical implementation tools, experts representing all EEA States participate in sectorial Commission Security Committees.