US embassy cable - 00THEHAGUE1676


Identifier: 00THEHAGUE1676
Wikileaks: View 00THEHAGUE1676 at
Origin: Embassy The Hague
Created: 2000-06-06 13:39:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

E.O. 12958: N/A 
1.  Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater visited the 
Netherlands May 31 and June 1 to discuss transportation 
issues with Dutch government and private sector officials. 
Although front-burner issues such as hushkits were mentioned, 
most of the conversations were broader, touching on the 
future of the airline industry, road safety, shipping 
regulation, and areas for future U.S.-Dutch cooperation. 
Dutch Minister of Transportation Netelenbos sought U.S. 
support for strengthening ICAO and for cooperation on 
promoting international, rather than regional, rules for 
regulation of shipping safety.  Secretary Slater described 
DOT's efforts to consider the future of transportation -- 
looking twenty-five years ahead -- and encouraged the Dutch 
government and key private sector representatives (e.g., of 
KLM and the Port of Rotterdam) to send representatives to 
DOT's October 2000 conference in Washington.  End summary. 
2.  Secretary Slater was accompanied during his visit to the 
Netherlands by the following DOT officials: Deputy Chief of 
Staff Norma Krayem, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Aviation 
and International Affairs Bradley Mims, Office of 
International Transportation Director Bernestine Allen, 
Assistant to the Secretary for Public Affairs Mary Trupo, and 
Director for Scheduling and Advance Natalie Hartman. 
Dutch Government Views 
3.  During a June 1 meeting with Minister Netelenbos and 
ministry officials, the Dutch government representatives made 
the following key points: 
--  The government of the Netherlands remains concerned with 
implementation of the Hatch amendment. 
--  "Civil servants will have to work hard" to shepherd the 
hushkit issue through the ICAO dispute settlement procedure. 
It is good that the issue is being handled through 
appropriate means.  More generally, ICAO needs to be 
strengthened by speeding up its procedures and through an 
input of political muscle.  It is too much "an organization 
of civil servants." 
--  The Dutch are interested in reports of a possible United 
Airlines/U.S. Air merger, and, indeed, in the future general 
direction of airline mergers.  "We want competition, but 
understand that it is a tough industry for individual 
airlines to survive in."  The Dutch government is not privy 
to KLM's thinking, but understands that KLM has been 
approached by Portuguese, Greek, and Central European 
airlines interested in discussing merger opportunities. 
(Comment.  Recent media reports indicate the possibility of a 
KLM/British Airways merger.  End comment.)  The Dutch would 
be interested in learning of USG views on means of ensuring 
an appropriate level of competition among airlines. 
--  Minister Netelenbos supports privatization of air traffic 
control, in part because she believes ministry management of 
air traffic control experts makes little sense.  However, 
privatized control seeks to maintain a share of control, 
while what is needed in Europe is consolidation.  One 
alternative is for the government to grant a concession to a 
private air traffic controller, with the understanding that 
the concession could be withdrawn if performance was 
inadequate.  Eurocontrol should take over management of high 
altitude flights over Europe, but the militaries and the 
French government resist this idea. 
--  The Dutch government is concerned that the French 
government's enthusiasm for new shipping safety regulations, 
in the wake of the sinking of the tanker Erika off the coast 
of Brittany, is leading to proposed regulations that have not 
been adequately considered.  Funding of enforcement, 
shipbuilding capacity, and effects on shipping prices need 
study.  Moreover, because the proposals are unlikely to 
achieve world-wide acceptance, their imposition on a European 
regional basis would drive substandard vessels towards Asia 
-- something Japan would resist.  It would be better for the 
U.S., EU, and Japan to consider common rules.  (In an aside, 
Netelenbos wished the French would begin by enforcing 
existing regulations.  She also noted that the Netherlands 
had offered voluntarily to remove the still-leaking Erika 
from the sea bed, an offer the French turned down.) 
--  Contrary to the Kyoto Protocol, CO2 is not diminishing 
but increasing, and industry must conform to CO2 reductions. 
Government and industry must address the negative impact of 
road and air traffic growth. 
4.  Secretary Slater said that the U.S. and the Netherlands 
have similar interests in ensuring air safety and noise 
reduction.  That should make solutions to outstanding issues 
possible.  It is necessary to get the hushkits dispute out of 
the way so we can move forward on the more important Stage IV 
noise level discussions.  The Secretary said that he could 
not yet comment on the possible merger between U.S. airlines 
because the facts are still forthcoming.  He noted that DOT 
is undertaking a long-term study of transportation needs and 
welcomes international comments and involvement. 
Dutch Industry Views 
5.  The Secretary met on May 31 with leading Dutch private 
sector representatives at a meeting organized by the VNO-NCW 
(Dutch industry federation).  Following were the main 
discussion points: 
--  Schiphol airport, Europe's fourth busiest, needs to grow 
in order to afford investments required to remain 
competitive.  The overall approach is to apply an overall 
"noise budget" to Schiphol, within which it must optimize its 
traffic.  Schiphol would like to establish freight service to 
and from Atlanta to become an even greater gateway for 
U.S.-EU trade. (Mr. Verboom, Schiphol Airport) 
--  Container cargo is rapidly increasing.  The Port of 
Rotterdam, already the world's largest, expects to increase 
the number of containers it handles from the current 6 
million a year to 12 million a year over the next twelve 
years.  Cargo handling is becoming a high technology industry 
and calls out for standardization of new technologies between 
the U.S. and EU.  (J.M. Dekkers, Europe Combined Terminals BV) 
--  There is concern in Europe that the U.S. is moving 
towards a new 47-foot container standard, in addition to the 
current 20 and 40-foot containers.  This would complicate 
transatlantic cargo movement.  The U.S. and EU should 
consider common standard container sizes.  (Th. W. Aris, 
Transport Management International) 
--  The Dutch have begun a radical rethinking of highway 
safety, introducing the concept of "sustainable safety," and 
would appreciate communication with U.S. experts in the 
field.  The current annual highway death toll in the 
Netherlands is 1,000 per year.  The goal should be to reduce 
it by a factor of ten.  (F.C.M. Wegman, Dutch Institute for 
Road Safety) 
6.  Secretary Slater told the private sector gathering that 
the Administration has taken a strong position that 
transportation is a policy area that requires close 
government-private sector partnership.  It is also a policy 
area that requires long-term and forward-looking examination. 
 DOT has therefore initiated a policy of looking towards the 
transportation needs of 2025 in close conjunction with 
industry.  Globalization is a fact and transportation an 
integral part of it.  DOT welcomes contact with European 
governments and the private sector and looks forward to their 
participation in a major conference that DOT will host in 
Washington in October. 
P.S. The Ubiquitous Dutch Bicycle 
7.  No discussion of transportation in the Netherlands is 
complete without mention of the bicycle.  Dutch officials, 
including Minister Netelenbos and Ton Welleman, Project 
Manager of the Dutch Bicycle Master Plan for the Transport 
Ministry, were skeptical that the Dutch experience has much 
to offer to the U.S., but were pleased that the bicycle 
remains center stage in the Netherlands, with 6 million 
bicycles used for 30 percent of all travel within the 
country.  The current problem for the Netherlands is the 
600,000 bicycle thefts which occur annually, a problem the 
Ministry is considering addressing by inserting computer 
chips into bicycles.  Both Minister Netelenbos and Ton 
Welleman, to the surprise of the U.S. delegation, were 
adamant that mandatory helmet laws even for children made no 
sense for the Netherlands.  Accident rates are low, the Dutch 
are good bicyclists, and (more to the point) no government 
could propose such a measure because it would be universally 
condemned and ignored.  Secretary Slater replied that the 
U.S., and particularly individual cities, are more 
enthusiastic about increasing bicycle use than the Dutch 
might think. 

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