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Siim Kallas

Vice-President and Commissioner for Transport

Connecting Europe: Transport Keeping Europe's economy moving

Remarks at press conference

Brussels, 19 October, 2011

Good afternoon everybody.

I'd like to talk to you about the key role that transport will play in Connecting Europe. And within that, the ambitious plans we have for the new Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T).

Our proposals are for transport infrastructure – and by that I mean the actual railway lines, the tunnels, the bridges, routes and the port facilities – that connect Europe's economy together. This has been a major exercise in consultation with Member States, regions and stakeholders over a period of two years. I believe we have made significant progress.

Europe's transport system is currently an inefficient patchwork of different national networks.

  • Europe's railways currently have to use 7 different gauge sizes.

  • Only 20 of our major airports are directly connected to the European rail network.

  • Only 35 of our major ports are well connected.

  • Most importantly, many of the worst bottlenecks are around national border crossings, and they are not getting built.

Transport is the lifeblood of the European economy. And if it does not flow smoothly, our economy will weaken and fail to grow.

We need to tackle:

  • missing links

  • poor East–West connections

  • fragmented infrastructure

  • a lack of inter-operability

  • and we need to focus investment.

In short, we need to move from a patchwork to a network.

This is what we would like the new core European transport network to look like by 2030.

It will involve connecting:

  • 83 main European ports with rail and road links

  • 37 key airports with rail connections into major cities

  • 15,000 km of railway line upgraded to high speed

  • 35 cross-border projects to reduce bottlenecks

This represents a fundamental shift in European transport policy.

  • We are moving from a political wish list to a "real world" methodology.

  • From a scattered approach to a network approach

  • From a loose framework to legally binding commitments on all sides

Most importantly, to a new focus that puts EU resources where there is real European added value. It's not easy. Local people at local level quite rightly want connections that work for them. But what we can do is to ensure that that those connections come from somewhere and go to somewhere: that there is a link to a European network. That is Europe's added value.

So at a regional and national level what we call the comprehensive network will feed into to the core network. This comprehensive network will be largely managed by the Member States themselves with some funding available under transport and Regional policy. That is subsidiarity in action. It is our intention that by 2050, the great majority, of Europe's citizens and businesses will be no more than 30 minutes in travel time from the comprehensive network.

In conclusion

What we are doing is upgrading existing transport infrastructure to build missing connections, reduce congestion, and improve journey times. In short, we are filling in the gaps and joining up the dots. But in the world of transport the gaps and the dots are big and expensive. Taken as a whole, this programme will bring together some 200-250 billion Euros of spending. The bulk of that infrastructure spending is foreseen and will be financed by national governments. An additional 31.7 billion will come from the Connecting Europe Fund with more from EU regional and cohesion funds. That money and an overall EU framework means that instead of fragmented national projects, projects will join up to form a coherent whole.

It all adds up a joined up network which will deliver efficiency savings for Europe's businesses of over 300 billion Euros by 2030. For all our citizens, it means roads which are safer and less congested, as well as a smoother and quicker journey from A to B.

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