Other available languages: FR
The European Commission warmly welcomes the decision of the British and French governments, as annouced in Lille today by President Mitterrand and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, to give the go-ahead to the construction of a tunnel beneath the Channel. We believe that it will encourage trade within the Community and will stimulate employment in the short and in the longer term. It will also benefit the internal market and will strengthen the Community's technological capacity. Speaking on behalf of the Commission, Mr Stanley Clinton Davis, Member of the Commission responsible for transport policy, said that the effects of the decision would be profound. The new link will have an impact far beyond the frontiers of the two member states directly involved, presenting new opportunities and also new challenges which must be faced by the Community as a whole". The Commission has long supported the construction of a fixed link. Its commitment to the project was indicated by its involvement in the 1979 study on the implications of a fixed link for the Community and its support for the banking group study into the financing possibilities for a new project, which published its findings in 1984. Now that the decision has been taken, the Commission will be discussing its implications for the Community's transport network with member states under the existing consultation procedures. While difficulties may arise for certain sectors of employment and for some regions, the overall effect on jobs will be positive. Ways must be found for easing the social and economic transition when difficulties do appear. Impact on the environement should be taken into account from the start. "It is no good building the link now and worrying about the environmental consequences later", said Mr. Clnton Davis. "Consequently there must be no secrecy about any adverse effect, particularly environmental. Only in providing all relevant information can constructive measures be taken to allay any fears. The Commission is encouraged that the original invitations to submit proposals for the link included an obligation to examine the environmental effects of the project and notes the importance given to the environment in the communique of the two governments. "Today's decision must be seen against the wider Community backcloth. The project will change the economic geography of Europe; we must see to it that it works in the interests of thepeoples of Europe", Mr.Clinton Davis concluded.