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European Commission


Brussels, 14 November 2013

Transport: Union for the Mediterranean ministerial conference in Brussels

Transport ministers from 43 countries of the Euro-Mediterranean area are meeting in Brussels on Thursday, 14 November 2013 to discuss how to strengthen cooperation on transport legislation and how to develop infrastructure to connect the two sides of the Mediterranean Sea. Transport is a key vector for achieving closer market integration and contributing to regional integration, economic growth, employment, tourism and increased regional trade. In the context of profound change in the Mediterranean region, transport cooperation between the EU and its neighbours is crucial and needs to be supported.

Who is participating?

The EU Member States and the following 15 Mediterranean partners that are members of the Union for the Mediterranean (or "UfM"): Albania, Algeria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya (observer), Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Mauritania, Palestine, Tunisia, Turkey. Cooperation with Syria is currently suspended.

What is the Union for the Mediterranean?

Barcelona Process

Relations in the field of transport between the European Union and its southern partners were formally established in 1995 with the Barcelona Process. The key priority of this cooperation is the achievement of a safe, sustainable and efficient transport system in the Euro-Mediterranean area.

First meeting in Marrakech

The Euro-Mediterranean transport ministers met for the first time in December 2005 in Marrakech, where they announced the plan to build a Euro-Mediterranean Transport Network (TMN-T). A regional transport action plan was adopted in 2007 to guide the regulatory reforms in all modes of transport (maritime, road, railways and civil aviation) and the infrastructure network planning.

Paris – launch of the UfM

In 2008, in Paris, a new political impulse was given to the Barcelona Process, with the launch of the Union for the Mediterranean, which gives now the name to the ministerial conference. This cooperation, supported by the European Investment Bank, associates all the regional/international transport initiatives involved in the Mediterranean region (Group of Transport Ministers of the Western Mediterranean, United Nations-Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, Arab League, and the Arab Maghreb Union).

What are the objectives of the UfM?

The transport ministerial meeting in Brussels should politically endorse the results obtained through the implementation of the regional transport action plan (RTAP 2007–2013).

The two complementary objectives of the Euro-Mediterranean transport cooperation are:

  1. The development of infrastructures to connect the Euro-Mediterranean areas. This will be done through the development of the Trans-Mediterranean Transport Network, to be connected to the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T).

  2. The achievement of regulatory convergence and standards in all transport sectors. This means, for example, removing significant differences in legislations with an impact on safety and security, simplifying and modernising administrative procedures, reducing operation times, and ensuring adherence to international conventions

What was achieved so far?

  1. Progress has been made for regulatory reform and convergence in all modes of transport, in particular through EU-financed technical assistance covering maritime security and safety and prevention of pollution; intermodal project on motorways of the sea; aviation safety and security and air traffic management; road, rail and urban transport.

  2. Aviation agreements have been signed between the EU and Morocco, Israel and Jordan. Aviation agreements open the air services market between the EU and the partner countries, while contributing to converge with the EU aviation standards (safety and security, air traffic and airport management, environment). These agreements will progressively build a Common Aviation Area between the EU and its southern neighbours.

  3. Infrastructure projects have been financed in the areas of road, rail, port and logistics by the EU, the European Investment Bank and the secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean. These projects will help to build the Trans-Mediterranean Transport Network (TMN-T). For example, the Mediterranean motorways of the sea projects aim at identifying the essential maritime connections between the two shores of the Mediterranean.

Furthermore, the secretariat of the UfM considers the following projects as having significant impact:

  1. The completion of the central section of the trans-Maghreb motorway axis: 22 km segment along the Algerian–Moroccan border, and an 80 km segment along the border between Algeria and Tunisia.

  2. The LOGISMEDTA covering training activities for the development of a network of Euro-Mediterranean logistics platforms.

  3. The extension of the Jordanian national railway network. The main component of the project will be the "North-South Corridor", from the Syrian border to the port of Aqaba.

How are the projects financed?

Projects, including infrastructure projects, are co-financed by the EU, the European Investment Bank, and the secretariat of the UfM.

Since 2010, the secretariat of the UfM has been given the task to promote projects and mobilise investors. The role of the UfM has become essential in this field, and the secretariat could gather the commitment of all donors and international financial institutions for the funding of infrastructure projects in the region. As regional cooperation among the UfM partners is the transport component of the European neighbourhood policy (ENP), the European Commission is also implementing several technical assistance programmes for a total amount of €23 million, involving in particular the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).

What's happening after the UfM Conference?

The Transport Ministers meeting in the Brussels Conference of 14 November should:

  1. Endorse the achievements of the regional transport action plan (2007–2013);

  2. Endorse the guidelines for the next regional transport action plan (2014–2020);

  3. Confirm the principle of developing the Trans-Mediterranean Transport Network (TMN-T) and its connection with the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T).

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