News Release – Rail Forum Europe advocates a level playing field in the worldwide rail supply market

Brussels, 10 July – Members of Rail Forum Europe and railway stakeholders agree that rail supply manufacturers should compete on a level playing field globally. In this respect the European rail industry calls on the European Commission to use the opportunity of the ongoing EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations with Japan and the US to push for full opening of the market in these two countries. This was the main message coming from presentations and discussions at a Rail Forum Europe breakfast event on “Japan and US Free Trade Agreements with the EU: what is at stake for the European rail industry?” held on 9 July in the European Parliament in Brussels, sponsored by Alstom. The lack of a level playing field in public procurement between the EU, Japan and the US has been affecting the rail market for many years and has long been challenged by the European rail industry. Addressing this issue is all the more important at a time when the EU is struggling to recover from the economic crisis.

Philippe Citroën, Director General of UNIFE, highlighted the potential economic benefits from EU’s successful negotiations with Japan and the US. He pointed out that the global market situation concerning the EU, Japan and the US is still far from being a level playing field: while the European market is transparent as per EU procurement rules and open to competition, Japan is almost entirely closed to foreign competitors and the US is open to a limited extent, despite the Buy America requirements.

In Japan, most non-Japanese suppliers are, de facto, excluded from any competition for the supply of rolling stock and other railway equipment by the operational safety clause and other complex and restrictive procedures. “FTA negotiations must address these two fundamental issues” Mr Citroën remarked.

“The EU should further encourage a comparable and effective opening of global rail markets, also through technical assistance of the European Railway Agency. UNIFE is committed to support and work with the Commission in these important negotiations” he concluded.

Jojo Alexander, Alstom Transport Vice President Strategy and External Development listed the main issues faced by Alstom in Japan and the US. “In the ongoing negotiations with Japan, Alstom asks for the clear, predictable and non-discriminatory application of the operational safety clause, broader public procurement coverage, including the 3 Japan Railways and more transparent public procurement procedures. Japan has to demonstrate progress in one year’s time with very concrete measures” he said.

As far as the US is concerned the objective should be to increase access to public procurement on a reciprocal basis, remove any “buy local” restrictions or lowered thresholds and harmonise rail regulation and standards.

“Alstom welcomes the launch of the negotiations with US and Japan. The final goal is to get comparable and effective market access in Japan and the US” he concluded.

Mauro Petriccione, European Commission’s DG TRADE Director for Development and management of trade relations with Neighbourhood Countries and with South-East Asia, updated the participants on the state of the two negotiations. The European Commission is working to persuade the Japanese that it is their interest to cooperate. He added that negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the US are much more straightforward and are focussed on the Buy America provisions.

Malcolm Harbour, MEP and Rail Forum Europe Member, highlighted the importance of standards convergence and challenged the concept of reciprocity arrangements as they would send the wrong political signal.

Brian Simpson, Rail Forum Europe President and Chairman of the European Parliament’s Transport Committee, commented that the lack of a global level playing field is indeed a major issue for the European rail industry. “In order to address this issue we need the EU to play hard in negotiations with Japan and the US” he concluded.

Rail Forum Europe will hold its next dinner event on 17 September 2013 in Brussels. On this occasion, the MEPs will address the issue of modal shift in rail freight.

To download the press release in pdf, please click here.


About Rail Forum Europe

Founded by Members of the European Parliament from across the parliamentary committees, Rail Forum Europe is an international non-profit making association that aims at bringing together EU decision-makers and the rail sector to achieve a better understanding of rail-related issues.

 Rail Forum Europe is governed solely by a Managing Board of MEPs, the President of which is Mr Brian Simpson (Chairman of the European Parliament Committee on Transport and Tourism).

 For more information on Rail Forum Europe, please contact or visit

 Rail Forum Europe. The MEPs’ platform dedicated to rail transport.

Categories Latest News | Tags: | Posted on July 10, 2013

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