Transport policy

24 April 2008

The European Commission's White Paper on transport policy until 2010 aimed to provide the EU with a means to separate transport growth from economic growth. This, argued the Commission, was needed because projected economic growth until 2010 would lead to a +38% increase in goods traffic, and a +24% increase in passenger traffic.

The White Paper argued that a lack of investment in infrastructure would lead to an increase in congestion in urban centres and along the principal trans-European corridors, undermining the economic competitiveness of the EU.

The Commission recommended supporting development of rail, maritime and inland waterway transport networks. At present it estimates roads account for 44% of goods transport, short sea shipping 41%, rail 8% and inland waterways 4%. For passengers, roads represent 79%, air 5%, and railways 6% of journeys undertaken.

New Framework

The Commission's accompanying document to its &Mid-term Review' calls for a new framework for TENs and the separation of economic and transport growth, namely;

• the evolution of the relative costs of the various transport modes, taking into consideration the fact that the initial orientations were based on the price of a barrel of oil at US$ 12 to 15 (€ 10 to € 12,5), whereas it is now above US$ 60 (€ 50);

• the enlargement of the EU to 25 members, with a subsequent extension of the infrastructure priority projects, including crossing natural obstacles;

• the overall economic slow-down compared to forecasts.

Under this renewed framework, FIEC is proposing the following recommendations, in order to ensure the effective realisation of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T).

First, improve the coordination of the projects at Community level;

• by means of reinforcing the role of the coordinators for priority projects;

• by quickly setting-up an Executive Agency for TEN-T, which will allow both flexibility and a specific approach in line with the operational coordination and overall management of each project;

• by means of creating a dedicated fund for each project and the centralised management of all of these funds by an ad-hoc European structure.

Second, ensure a concentration of public resources, by;

• allocating and investing EU resources in those projects that offer a real socio-economic return;

• combining community resources on the priority projects;

• FIEC considers it is absolutely essential to provide for a combined recourse to the various community resources: TEN-T budget line, structural and cohesion funds for similar operations and for the same section of a priority project;

• making funds available in relation to the Member states commitments and the degree of maturity of the projects.

Third, promote the use of Public-Private-Partnerships (PPPs) for targeted projects. Therefore, in order to put forward a coherent and pragmatic approach, FIEC;

• supports the creation of a “centre of excellence” bringing together national representatives responsible for PPPs;

• calls for the elaboration of a non-legislative EU instrument, such as community &Guidelines' on PPPs, which would clarify their status with regards to various fields of community law and policies (internal market and competition rules, transport and regional policies, etc).

Fourth, make new resources available, by;

• re-examining the conditions for EIB (European Investment Bank) intervention. A revision of the EIB's statutes should be envisaged in order to allow direct support for important infrastructure projects, without public intermediation;

• EU loan guarantee instrument for TEN-T projects;

• reconsidering the option of a large European loan.

In the observations on the initial version of the White Paper, FIEC had already recommended recourse to a large European loan or to a series of successive loans, according to a schedule compatible with the progress of the construction of networks and the availability of the benefits linked to the construction and exploitation, in such manner as to ensure their reimbursement.

Finally, FIEC calls for the rapid conclusion and adoption of the proposal presented by the European Commission in March 2005 relating to the guarantee instrument of loans made available for the realisation of the priority TENs projects.

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