Brussels, 7 December 2005
High Level Transport Group calls for better
transport links with EU Neighbours
The High Level Group set up by the European Commission last year to
look at transport connections between the newly enlarged European Union and its
26 neighbours submitted its final report today. Recommendations include a mix of
infrastructure projects and simpler measures aiming to stimulate trade and to
facilitate traffic flows between countries along five major transnational
transport axes. “Better integration of national networks will foster
regional cooperation and integration not only between the EU and its neighbours
but also between the neighbouring countries themselves. I am delighted with the
speed and efficiency of the work of this Group. It is particularly appropriate
given the 10th Anniversary of the Barcelona process and the
ministerial meeting taking place in Marrakech on 16 December” declared
Vice-President Jacques Barrot, in charge of transport.
Chaired by former Transport Commissioner Ms Loyola de Palacio, the High Level
Group comprised 53 countries
and 3 international financing
institutions. After a year
of intensive work, the Group agreed on a set of priority measures, focussing
efforts on 5 major transnational axes (see map) connecting the EU with the
neighbouring countries in the North, East and South-East as well as around the
Mediterranean and Black Sea regions.
The Group highlights its main priorities in the operational conclusions which
include a number of infrastructure projects and several “soft”
measures with the aim of removing physical and administrative bottlenecks along
the main transport axes identified and to facilitate cooperation and
communication between authorities in the different countries (harmonisation of
documents and procedures, joint border control stations, etc). These measures
include maritime safety and environmental protection, rail interoperability,
extension of the European satellite radio navigation system (GALILEO) as well as
the extension of the Single European Sky initiative to the neighbouring
countries. The Group also wants to promote the exchange of best practice to
explore the role of public-private partnerships in accelerating the
implementation of the projects. Total cost of the projects is estimated at
€ 45 billion, of which € 35 billion should be found between today
and 2020 primarily from the national budgets of the countries concerned and
international financing institutions complemented by EU support.
The Group recommends that the Commission, the EU Member states as well as the
Banks focus their cooperation and financing actions on the priority axes and on
the horizontal measures identified in the report. The Group’s
recommendations should also be adequately reflected in the cooperation
agreements and action plans under the European Neighbourhood Policy. In this
context, the Group considers that the twinning of an EU Member state with a
neighbouring country could be a very useful and effective tool for implementing
the horizontal measures, particularly in the areas of maritime and road safety
as well as simplifying border crossing procedures. To ensure coherence of
networks, implementation of the proposed measures should be synchronised along
The Chairman of the Group, Ms de Palacio and Vice-President Jacques Barrot
will present the results of the Group’s work in Marrakech on 15-16
December where transport Ministers of the Mediterranean region will discuss
Based on the Group’s recommendations, Vice President Barrot intends
next Spring to present a Communication to the Council and European Parliament on
the way ahead.
Operational conclusions of the High Level Group
Le Groupe a identifié les 5 grands axes transnationaux
- Autoroutes de la mer connectent les mers Baltique, Atlantique,
Méditerranéenne et Noire ainsi que les pays littoraux. Une extension
à travers le Canal de Suez est également envisagée
- Axe nord-est lie l'UE avec la Norvège ainsi qu'avec la Russie et le
- Axe central lie le centre de l'UE avec l'Ukraine et la mer Noire ainsi
qu'avec la Russie et le Transsibérien
- Axe sud-est qui connecte le centre de l'UE à travers les Balkans et la
Turquie avec le Caucase et la mer Caspienne ainsi qu'avec le Proche Orient
- Axe Sud-ouest lie le Sud-ouest et le centre de l'UE avec la Suisse d'une
part et le Maroc et l'axe trans-maghrébin jusqu'en Egypte.
The Group makes the following recommendations:
Support for a continuous process
- A review and update of the major axes/projects and of the horizontal
measures in 2010 and regularly thereafter;
- A mid-term review in 2008 to prepare the update, based on information
provided by the countries concerned.
Focussed and coordinated
implementation of the axes
- To focus cooperation and financing actions on the five major axes and
on the horizontal measures put forward by the Group.
- Exchange of best practice on financing options, including
public-private partnerships, enabling legislation, user charging, etc. through
- To put in place strong and effective coordination frameworks,
including sustainable long-term financial support, for the implementation of the
- Starting with a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for axes/regions
where no such cooperation mechanism exists at present;
- Strengthening of existing MoUs into a binding Treaty.
- To launch twinning actions of an EU Member state and a neighbouring
country by 2008 at the latest in view of the implementation of relevant
Implementation of horizontal
- Simplification and facilitation of border crossing procedures
- Implementation in full and without delay of the relevant international
Conventions and agreements, especially:
- the International Convention on the harmonisation of frontier controls
for goods, particularly as regards corresponding opening hours of frontier
posts, joint control of goods and documents through the provision of shared
facilities, medico-sanitary and veterinary inspections;
- the Kyoto Convention on simplification and harmonisation of customs
procedures aiming at maximum use of automated systems through the use of
pre-arrival information, risk management techniques (including risk assessment
and selectivity of controls) and easy access to information on customs
requirements, laws, rules and regulations;
- the Convention of the international transport of goods (the TIR
carnets) for road vehicles.
- Adoption by all the countries concerned by 2008 at the latest of the five
IMO FAL documents, already in use in the EU.
- Simplification of the language regime:
- To mutually recognise all trade and transport related documents in the
language of the country concerned and in a mutually agreed language.
- In the longer term, harmonisation of these documents.
- Implementation of “one-stop office” and development of
electronic data inter-exchange systems (EDI) especially for ports.
- Promotion of satellite radio navigation systems (Galileo).
- Introduction, application and control of security measures resulting
from international agreements and standards as well as to carrying out of
- For the maritime transport and the Motorways of the Seas:
- Harmonisation of the practices and procedures of the Paris, Mediterranean
and Black Sea MoUs at the highest level of performance. The European
Commission is invited to approach the three MoUs in view of launching a dialogue
for further cooperation.
- Ratification and implementation of the international standards and
conventions (IMO) in a timely manner and in full, including e.g. the MARPOL
convention related to single hull tankers, the AFS convention on antifouling
- Technical support for actions to improve the quality of port
infrastructure and services and to implement regular frequency of shipping
services (at least once a week) operating on the Motorway of the Sea.
- As regards rail transport and interoperability
- To monitor the on-going efforts of the two legal systems (COTIF and OSJD) in
view of a common consignment note.
- To undertake measures to render the transport laws more coherent and
- Gradual implementation of
ERTMS along the major axes,
- Standardised telematic applications for freight services.
- For inland waterways:
- To mutually open access for international traffic.
- To pursue the harmonisation of rules and safety standards,
- Implementation of traffic information systems that are mutually
- Regarding road transport:
- To design and implement measures to improve road safety that address driver
behaviour, vehicle safety, road infrastructure (safety audits) and traffic
- To gradually upgrade the road network along the major axes for vehicles of
11.5 ton axle load and of 4-metre height.
- For air transport, to gradually extend the principles of the Single
European Sky initiative to the neighbouring regions along with the enlargement
of the EU or on a voluntary basis.
[ Figures and graphics available
in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ]
 Albania, Algeria,
Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Egypt, former
Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya (as
observer), Morocco, Moldova, Norway, Palestinian Authority, Russia, Serbia &
Montenegro, Kosovo (under UNMIK administration in accordance with the United
Nations Security Council Resolution 1244), Switzerland, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey
and Ukraine as well as the 25 EU Member states and Bulgaria and Romania
 European Investment
Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, World Bank
 European Rail Traffic