The Swiss president, Moritz Leuenberger, has urged France to ratify Switzerland's bilateral accords with the European Union. Leuenberger approached French officials at a European Conference of Ministers of Transport in Lisbon.This content was published on May 30, 2001 - 07:58
Leuenberger, who is also minister for transport, asked his French counterpart, Jean-Claude Gayssot, to speed up the ratification process of the treaties with Brussels, which cover mainly trade issues.
The accords cannot come into effect until they have been approved by all the EU's member parliaments.
Switzerland has seen a marked increase in the level of traffic and tailbacks since the beginning of this year when an agreement with Brussels on trucks transiting Switzerland came into effect.
Many of Europe's north-south arteries cut through Switzerland, and are struggling to cope with increasingly severe traffic jams, particularly along the route through the Gotthard tunnel, which links northern Europe and Italy.
Hence, one area of particular interest to Switzerland is the issue of transalpine traffic flows. Delegates at the transport forum are expected to discuss a pan-European transport strategy to deal with the situation.
The ECMT claims there is still insufficient data for monitoring the current position, arguing that many of the forecasts are "highly conflicting".
The organisation is seeking ministers' approval for the creation of an international monitoring system to ensure a more accurate picture of the transalpine traffic situation is available.
During his address at the conference, Leuenberger also called for an improvement in the working conditions of truck drivers. He said that at present they were "very difficult" and asked for controls on drivers' working hours to be more stringently enforced.
This year's transport meeting is also set to look at the harmonisation of regulations covering international road freight transport, increased use of sulphur-free fuels, and better transport access for Europe's ageing populations.
The ECMT, which was founded in October 1953, comprises of ministers from 40 European countries. There are six associate member countries, plus two observer countries.
swissinfo with agencies
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