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Brussels, 7 June 2010

Conference to present the future of transport networks in Europe

The European Commission will reveal how it aims to revamp its transport networks policy in response to the challenges of the 21st century at a conference dedicated to the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) in Zaragoza on 8 and 9 June. Hosted jointly with the Spanish Presidency, TEN-T Days 2010 will bring together the Commission, Members of the European Parliament, as well as ministers and other high-level representatives of the Member States.

Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, said: "The conference is an essential step in the process of revising TEN-T policy with the aim of completing the internal market, improving East–West connections and helping secure Europe’s international competitiveness and economic growth.”

At the conference the Commission will present its recent working document on the revision of the planning methodology for the TEN-T. The working document is a further step in the revision of TEN-T policy that began with the Green Paper for Transport in 2009. The document brings together the results of a broad public consultation and the findings of six expert groups. The Commission – in line with the conclusions of the expert groups – proposes a dual layer planning approach that consists of a core network connecting the main European transport nodes and hubs, and a denser comprehensive network that includes smaller infrastructure links and would serve as a broader reference basis for infrastructure planning in the Member States. This option received broad support from stakeholders and Member States after its initial publication in the Green Paper of 2009. Further questions, such as the definition of the main nodes, remain to be answered. At the TEN-T Days, the Commission intends to intensify dialogue with Member States and stakeholders on these issues.

During the TEN-T Days the Commission will also present its 2010 progress report which assesses the development of the 30 TEN-T priority projects. It is the first progress report based on the new TENtec database, a new online interface between the Commission and the Member States that permits the transmission of data in real time. This new tool contributes to even greater transparency in the evaluation and supervision of TEN-T progress and funds allocation. This year’s report concludes that it has been possible to complete some key sections of the European transport network despite the difficult economic environment. However, it also points out some of the remaining challenges that need to be overcome in order to build an efficient transport network.

At the conference three new European coordinators for the TEN-T priority projects will be nominated. All nominees have held high positions in Europe and in their Member States and will be in an excellent position to aid the coordination efforts that are essential for the cooperation between Member States when implementing the priority projects. Péter Balázs, former Commissioner, will return as European coordinator for the rail link between Paris and Budapest after finishing his term as Hungarian foreign minister. Pat Cox, former President of the European Parliament, will be responsible for the railway axis Berlin–Palermo, and Gilles Savary, former Member of the European Parliament, will be in charge of the railway axis Athens–Dresden.

Furthermore three Memorandums of Understanding are expected to be signed in Zaragoza. One memorandum will be on the “High-Speed Rail Axis of Southwest Europe” which crosses France, Spain, and Portugal, including a difficult section through the Pyrenees; another will concern the railway axis from Lyon to the Ukrainian border; and a third will be signed on the Rail Baltica project from Warsaw to Helsinki. The memorandums will stress the need for political cooperation along these complex infrastructure projects and will manifest the political will of the Member States concerned to further progress along these lines.

The conference will be attended by high-level representatives of the Commission, including Vice-President Siim Kallas and Commissioner Johannes Hahn; high-level representatives of the Member States, including several ministers and state secretaries; leading members of the transport committee of the European Parliament; and more than 500 stakeholders.

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