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Brussels, 04 February 2009

Green Paper: TEN-T policy review. Towards a better integrated trans-European transport network at the service of the common transport policy

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 States".
  • 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 mode.
  • 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 policy.
  • 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 proposals?

  • 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 infrastructure use).
  • 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).

Future TEN-T 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 outset.

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 thereupon.

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.

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