EU and Eastern Partnership region move forward with transport cooperation
Following adoption of the Commission's communication on renewed approach to transport cooperation (see IP/11/844), Vice-President Siim Kallas met transport ministers of the EU Member States and of the six Eastern Partnership countries on 24 and 25 October 2011 in Krakow, to move forward with transport cooperation between the EU and those partner countries.
Vice-President Siim Kallas said: "We have today agreed with the Eastern Partnership countries to work together to make travel easier for people and ensure that goods can be transported efficiently. To follow up this work, we launched the Eastern Partnership Transport Panel. Discussions at this first ministerial conference proved that the EU and Eastern Partnership countries see a mutual benefit in working together towards closer transport cooperation."
Transport ministers summarised key challenges and opportunities for closer transport cooperation in a Joint Declaration. As a concrete initiative, they launched the Eastern Partnership Transport Panel as a framework for transport cooperation between the EU and the Eastern Partnership countries.
As next steps, ministers have agreed to:
follow up actions set out in the Commission communication for closer transport market integration and improved infrastructure connections;
plan a regional transport network for the Eastern Partnership region that connects with the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) and between the countries themselves;
take into account the transport infrastructure projects of mutual interest;
cooperate with international financial institutions that can contribute to improved transport connections through financing.
The EU and partner countries plan to review progress at a next Eastern Partnership ministerial transport meeting that will be organised on the basis of proposal by the Commission and the Presidency of the Council, and in cooperation with the partner countries.
In summer 2011, the European Commission put forward actions to improve transport connections with the EU's neighbouring countries. To bring transport cooperation with the neighbours to the East to the same level as with other neighbouring regions, specific focus is given to the Eastern Partnership countries. Countries covered by the Eastern Partnership are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
Several steps have already been taken to strengthen transport links with this region. The Eastern Partnership Transport Panel met for the first time in Brussels on 14 October to discuss issues concerning transport cooperation, including progress made in negotiations on a comprehensive aviation agreement with Moldova and a mandate from the Council to negotiate a comprehensive aviation agreement with Azerbaijan.
Helen Kearns (+32 2 298 76 38)
Dale Kidd (+32 2 295 74 61)