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The Transport Protocol of the Alpine Convention

The Alpine Convention is a framework agreement for the protection and sustainable development of the Alpine region designed to preserve and protect the Alps (from an environmental, economic and social viewpoint) by applying the principles of prevention, 'polluter pays' and cooperation between its members. The text brings together nine protocols, each covering a different sector. This decision concerns the application by the European Union of the Alpine Convention's Transport Protocol.

ACT

Council Decision 2007/799/EC of 12 October 2006 on the signature, on behalf of the Community, of the Protocol on the Implementation of the Alpine Convention in the field of transport (Transport Protocol).

SUMMARY

By Council Decision 96/191/EC, the European Union (EU) concluded the Convention on the Protection of the Alps. This aims to preserve the natural ecosystem and promote sustainable development of the Alps, while also protecting the economic and cultural interests of local populations. The Alpine Convention has a permanent committee made up of representatives of the contracting parties.

The signing by the EU of this protocol is also intended as a political message to all concerned, inviting the contracting parties to sign and ratify it.

Objectives

The protocol has the following objectives:

  • to reduce the actual and potential harmful effects of intra-alpine transport;
  • to contribute to the development of habitats and economic areas through a harmonised transport policy which is shared by the countries concerned and integrates different modes of transport (road, rail, etc.);
  • to mitigate the threat to the biodiversity of the Alpine region and its natural and cultural heritage;
  • to ensure through more efficient and sustainable transport systems that the movement of traffic is economically viable.

The contracting parties to the Convention thus undertake to take into account, in their management of the Alpine region, the risks and harmful effects associated with traffic, such as pollution (noise or chemical), and the security of people and property. In parallel, therefore, the signatories must:

  • increase the profitability of the transport sector;
  • optimise use of existing infrastructures;
  • take transport issues into account when evaluating and implementing other policies;
  • involve regional and local authorities in decision-making.

Specific measures and strategies

Furthermore, the Alpine Convention sets out a number of specific measures and strategies, all designed to promote sound, safe transport management based on the following principles:

  • sound coordination between different modes and means of transport;
  • promotion of intermodality;
  • transfer of traffic to more environmentally-friendly modes of transport;
  • protection of communication routes from natural hazards;
  • protection of people and the environment;
  • gradual reduction of hazardous substance emissions and noise;
  • introduction and development of user-friendly, environmental public transport;
  • use of impact studies for planned projects and consultation of those affected.

The convention also defines specific principles for the different modes of transport:

  • bolstering rail transport through the improvement and better use of infrastructure, and promoting intermodality for goods transport;
  • taking greater advantage of the scope for river and sea transport;
  • as to road transport, the signatories must avoid building new large-capacity routes. However, projects may be carried out if the environmental impact is minimised;
  • the harmful effects of air transport must be brought down to a minimum. Non-motorised aerial leisure activities must also be limited.

"Polluter pays" principle

The protocol also encourages the contracting parties to apply the "polluter pays" principle and establish a method that factors environmental costs into calculations of overall outlay on infrastructure.

The signatories must regularly report to the permanent committee on the measures taken under the protocol. The committee draws up a report declaring that the protocol has been complied with.

Background

On 14 May 1991, the Council authorised the Commission to take part in the negotiations to establish the Alpine Convention and its protocols.

The Transport Protocol was opened for signature by the contracting parties at the ministerial meeting of the Convention in Lucerne on 30 and 31 October 2000.

The Council signed the Transport Protocol of the Alpine Convention on 12 December 2006. This decision was accompanied by a joint Council and Commission declaration on the interpretation of the Protocol.

The other contracting parties of the Convention - apart from the European Community - are Germany, France, Italy, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Austria, Switzerland and Slovenia.

REFERENCES

Act Entry into force - Date of expiry Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Council Decision 2007/799/EC 12.1.2007 - OJ L 323, 8.12.2007
Last updated: 05.12.2007
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