Brussels, 04 February 2009
Green Paper: TEN-T policy review. Towards a
better integrated trans-European transport network at the service of the common
Why did the Commission decide to review this policy, and why did it decide
to do it now?
- The TEN-T policy was conceived in the early-mid-1990s, for a European Union
of 15 Member States. When the TEN-T Guidelines were amended (especially in
2004), network revision essentially meant a geographical extension as a result
of EU enlargement (including an extension of the priority projects from
initially 14 to then 30). New Member States' transport networks were "added on";
however no genuine planning review of the network as a whole was undertaken. In
the Commission's view, today, the time has come to strengthen the European
perspective when reviewing the TEN-T planning concept so as to make sure the
TEN-T is really "more than the sum of the single networks of then 27 Member
- The overall policy context of the Union has evolved, and TEN-T policy needs
to be adjusted within this framework. Sustainable development, and in particular
climate change objectives call for a an adjustment of the approach to TEN-T
policy, and the growing international role of the Community in political and
economical terms requires better infrastructure links with Europe's neighbours
and the wider world. Furthermore, the vital role of transport infrastructure
within the framework of the Lisbon strategy needs to be further strengthened.
- In the transport sector, where the implementation of internal market
legislation has been progressing and operators are striving for competitive and
efficient services, the infrastructural basis needs to be developed in line with
future service requirements across all modes of transport. The integration of
the network (combination of all modes and their optimum interconnection, the
deployment of intelligent transport systems to enable efficient infrastructure
use) has to be reinforced so as to enable efficient co-modal operations for both
passenger and freight traffic; to make the TEN-T a sound basis for the
achievement of transport policy objectives. Furthermore, the TEN-T policy review
needs to cater for infrastructural requirements of new technologies in the
transport and energy fields, both infrastructure and vehicle related.
- Past experience shows that there are considerable delays with the
implementation of major TEN-T priority projects, in spite of a concentration of
financial and other efforts on these projects. A broad range of other TEN-T
projects (identified on the basis of the comprehensive outline plans as well as
of the criteria and specifications set out in the Guidelines) have also
benefited from Community financial support. This funding having been based,
however, on a too broad set of priorities compared to the resource availability,
its effectiveness has been limited. This leads Parliamentarians, Member States,
stakeholders and the Commission itself to challenging the "European added value"
of TEN-T funding and of the TEN-T policy more generally. TEN-T policy and
planning ambitions should be better aligned with the instruments available for
their implementation, and the European added value of Community action should be
reviewed and strengthened in this context. A TEN-T policy review thus gives an
opportunity to draw lessons from past experience in order, in particular, to
accelerate the completion of ongoing measures and to adjust the policy approach
so as to strengthen its European added value.
- Why to review the policy now? The TEN-T Guidelines as modified in 2004
stipulate that, "by 2010, the Commission shall draft a progress report
(concerning the priority projects) and, if necessary, propose amendments to the
list of priority projects ....". The Commission is of the opinion that the
factors outlined above justify a fundamental review of the policy rather than
just a review of the priority projects.
What are the main
objectives of the review?
The main objectives of the review are:
- To take account, in the future TEN-T policy approach, of major European and
global political and economic developments such as tackling climate change, the
increasing international role for Europe both in relation to its neighbours and
the wider world as well as the objectives of the Lisbon strategy.
- To strengthen the TEN-T policy's role as a basis for the provision of
efficient and competitive transport services and for common transport policy
objectives. To promote strong network integration as the basis for co-modal
services for passengers and freight, and to promote technological innovation in
relation to the TEN-T.
- To show that the results of the implementation of the TEN-T policy achieved
so far are important but that there are lessons to be learnt for the future. The
latter refer in particular to the difficulties and delays with the
implementation of some of the key TEN-T priority projects, to a discrepancy
between policy and network planning objectives on the one hand and instruments
available for their implementation on the other, and correspondingly some lack
of effectiveness of Community action.
- To redirect Community action in relation to the TEN-T policy towards actions
that promise the highest European added value, and to examine whether TEN-T
planning needs a stronger European dimension.
What are the
Commission's key messages in the Green Paper?
- TEN-T policy remains vital to support both the Community's internal
objectives (economic growth, social and economic cohesion, sustainable
development) and its international dimension.
- Future TEN-T policy needs to build on past achievements and ensure
continuity of the previously agreed approach (i.e. in particular the completion
of priority projects). At the same time, it needs to be open for new
approaches to respond to future political, economical, environmental and
technological challenges and opportunities.
- In order to respond to both the need for efficient and competitive transport
services and to contribute to climate change objectives, the TEN-T policy needs
to strengthen the integration of the network (combination of modes,
optimal interconnection, integration of intelligent transport systems to ensure
efficient infrastructure use). This shall facilitate co-modal services for
passengers and freight, based on the comparative advantages of each transport
- Community action in the field of the TEN-T requires a stronger focus on
"European added value". TEN-T planning (although strongly depending on
national laws and procedures for transport infrastructure planning and
implementation as sovereign national responsibility) may need a stronger
Community dimension. TEN-T policy and planning ambitions and instruments for
their implementation need to be better aligned.
- TEN-T financing remains a key issue where Member States need to make
stronger commitments. Community grant instruments need to be combined in
the most effective way, public-private partnership approaches need to be further
stimulated and the efficiency of existing and the need for new instruments
should be reviewed.
- Besides financial instruments, non-financial instruments to support TEN-T
implementation need to be strengthened and complemented as necessary.
(strengthening of the role of European coordinators, need for "corridor
coordination", "open method of coordination" as means to monitor and stimulate
Member States' action in relation to TEN-T implementation).
- What are these messages based on?
- Lessons learnt from past experiences of TEN-T policy implementation, for
example in terms of project management and financing. A TEN-T network that
should be the basis for efficient, safe, secure and high quality freight and
passenger transport services at co-modal level and contributing to the
Community's climate change objectives, will also have to integrate relevant
developments in other sectors of EU transport policy. The Action plan for the
deployment of Intelligent Transport Systems in Europe for example
concerning the implementation of ITS for road transport, the Greening Transport
Package that contains a set of measures to make transport more sustainable,
measures to promote the freight transport logistics, make rail freight more
competitive, create a framework which will allow European ports to attract
investment for their modernisation, put maritime freight transport on an equal
footing with other transport modes and review progress made in developing
Motorways of the Sea that were presented by the Commission in October 2007, the
SESAR project on air traffic control infrastructure modernisation are just
examples of the link between TEN-T policy and other aspects of the EU transport
- On 14 and 15 October 2008, the Commission organised the TEN-T days on "the
future development of the trans-European transport network policy". The event
brought together around 500 delegates representing a range of stakeholder
sectors associated with the development of the TEN-T, providing them with
opportunities to feed in their views, needs and expectations during a series of
workshop sessions. For each of the workshops, an issues paper was drafted and
the conclusions were laid down in a workshop report. The results of these
discussions were taken into account by the Commission in the final drafting of
the Green Paper.
What is really new in the Commission's
- The role of transport infrastructure "at the service of transport services"
is strengthened, with main emphasis being placed on stronger network integration
(combination of modes, optimal interconnection, integration of intelligent
transport systems in order to promote efficient infrastructure use) as basis for
efficient and competitive co-modal services for passengers and freight.
- TEN-T policy aims at catering for short, medium and long term infrastructure
needs of various transport policy actions and at integrating such action in
relevant areas, for example in the field of freight logistics, rail freight
corridors, ITS or Single European Sky. "Traditional" large scale TEN-T projects
shall thus be complemented by measures of smaller scope and shorter time span
that are subject to European initiatives (often with an emphasis on efficient
- The recognition that new technologies in the transport and energy sectors,
both vehicle and infrastructure related, offer opportunities on which TEN-T
policy needs to respond.
- The Commission proposes three conceptual options for TEN-T planning which
– with a view to their effective implementation – entail different
requirements concerning the instruments. It invites stakeholders and Member
States, as traditional infrastructure investors, to discuss these options by
linking the planning concept and corresponding implementation instruments.
- Within the framework of these options, the Commission proposes a "core
network" concept which 1) goes from disconnected priority projects to a priority
network and 2) includes a "conceptual pillar" which caters for a broad range of
projects that may be identified in an evolving way on the basis of
pre-established specifications and criteria. The latter pillar is expected to
reflect the need for more flexibility and business orientation in the transport
sector and to respond to short and medium term needs (in addition to the
long-term needs of the traditional TEN-T approach).
policy and the Community's climate change objectives
Climate change questions were simply not at the forefront of public debate
when the TEN-T policy was established in the mid-1990s. Climate change is
expected to lead to an increased incidence of extreme weather events (for
example intense rain and high temperatures) and rising sea-levels. Existing
transport infrastructure, evolved over many decades with a long life-span, may
not be sufficiently resilient to the harmful effects of climate change. The
precise degree of such impacts as they affect individual sections of
infrastructure is not always yet clear, so their vulnerability to such changes
needs to be assessed and taken into account appropriately in the further
development of the TEN-T. And new infrastructures need to be designed in such a
way as to 'climate proof' them and build in sufficient resilience from the
What about "projects and Community money" – the issue at the heart
of TEN-T policy for many?
The Green Paper is about discussing broad policy objectives, options and
priorities rather than concrete projects. Based on the TEN-T planning option
that will be developed by taking account of the Green Paper process as well as
of further technical analysis, the Commission envisages to elaborate its
proposal for the TEN-T Guidelines. The shape of the future network and the
identification of projects of common interest are to be discussed in this
framework, and cost estimations and questions of financing will be based
What does the Commission expect from stakeholders?
Stakeholders from the whole range of sectors concerned by the TEN-T
development – Member States, regional and local authorities;
infrastructure managers and operators involved in all transport modes; industry;
researchers; financial institutions; economic operators and citizens as TEN-T
users; NGOs, etc. – are invited to express their views on the outlined
policy objectives and options proposed.
The Commission will analyse the expressed views and inform the stakeholder
community about the results of the consultation.
It will take these views into consideration when preparing decisions –
legislative action or other initiatives – on the basis of the Green Paper.