Transport regulatory authorities in the countries of the European Union (or having a “euro-compatible” transport policy, like Switzerland) mostly came into being with the reform launched by directive 91/440 which opened the rail transport markets to competition. The application of this text profoundly transformed the entire European rail system, even though, more than thirty years after it took effect (1991), the efforts remaining to reach its objectives are substantial.
The Recast Directive of 2012 aimed to establish a single European railway area, moving towards harmonization of the technical rules and political and economic governance. The idea was to provide the best conditions for a major change: the opening of access to the network and competition between operators on the national rail markets, which have been characterized for more than a century by vertical integration and national monopolies.
To accompany this transformation, the directive requires that the states establish regulatory bodies. They are not under the auspices of the supervisory authorities for rail (Ministry of Transports or equivalent), from which they must be independent, nor the judicial administration, which is not well-equipped to deal with this highly technical field. Their main function is to monitor the functioning of these new provisions with reference to European law, according to the principles of free and undistorted competition.
How did the European states design and handle the exercising of the prerogatives of these authorities? What are their prerogatives, their resources, do they handle one or several modes of transport, etc.? The OPSTE focused on this issue for its Spring 2023 meeting held by video conference. For Transport/Europe #9 bulletin, the comparison included eight countries – Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Spain and Switzerland.
Consult or download bulletin #9:
The next OPSTE bulletin will be devoted to the current situation of the implementation of the fourth European Railway Package.