EC accuses Eurotunnel of overcharging

The Brussels-based European Commission has accused Eurotunnel of overcharging.

Groupe Eurotunnel SA, a company with its headquarters in Paris, France, manages and operates the Channel Tunnel between Britain and France, including the vehicle shuttle services. The European Commission has said that the company is overcharging passengers using the Channel Tunnel, and that the overcharging extends to both passenger and freight traffic.

Further to its assertion, the Commission has urged the British and French governments to investigate the cost structure for using the tunnel and ensure that European Union rules that legislate against excessive track charges are being complied with. The prices that Eurotunnel charges the train companies are passed on to passengers, and the Commission also suggested that 43 percent of the tunnel’s capacity is not being used.

Siim Kallas, the vice-president of the Commission, said, ‘The Channel Tunnel is not being used to its full capacity because of these excessive charges. As a result, more freight is being carried on lorries instead of by rail, freight operators and their customers are being over-charged, and passengers are paying over the odds for their tickets. The current regime is also stifling growth in the rail sector.’

In its response to the accusations, Eurotunnel said that its charges are ‘transparent and not excessive,’ adding that it ‘always sought the development of cross-Channel traffic and concentrates significant resources on this goal.’

The company also said that only Eurostar, the high-speed rail service that connects London with Paris and Brussels, is contesting a claimed lack of transparency in 2014 access charges to the tunnel, and is ‘finding issue with a contract which it has applied for 19 years.’

European Commission Announces Permanent Restrictions on Liquids in Hand Luggage

The European Commission (EC), the executive body of the European Union, has announced that a 100ml limit on liquids, aerosols and gels (LAGs) in the hand luggage of air passengers has been made permanent.

The EC has completed an assessment of the various liquid formats in air passenger’s hand luggage, and based on the results of trials carried out at several EU airports and general consultations with experts, a conclusion has been reached that there still exists a significant risk to civil aviation from liquid explosives. The assessment shows that removing the LAGs restrictions in April 2013, as earlier predicted in EU law, may lead to significant operational risk for the airports and airlines.

In a statement, the EU has said, ‘Starting in January 2014, the Commission recommends that passengers should be able to carry on board all duty free LAGs provided that they are screened.

In the light of the experience gained and in close cooperation with its European and international partners, the Commission will then bring forward proposals for subsequent phases to achieve the final objective of screening all LAGs at the earliest possible date.

To implement these recommendations, the Commission will bring forward proposals to amend the existing legislation on LAGs in Autumn 2012, with the agreement of the Member States and the European Parliament.’

The director general of Airports Council International Europe, Olivier Jankovec, said, ‘As much as we would like to get rid of the existing restrictions on the carriage of LAGs, the trials carried out at several European airports have shown that the technology allowing for that just isn’t there yet.’