EU ratifies the Alpine Convention’s Transport Protocol
With the decision adopted today by the Council, the European Union ratified the Transport Protocol of the Alpine Convention, which consequently enters into force in the EU and becomes European law. This decision is part of the EU 'greening transport' approach and confirms that the Alpine region is an important issue in the European transports policy.
Vice-President Siim Kallas, welcomed the decision of the Council to ratify Alpine Convention's Transport Protocol on behalf of the European Union: "The Transport Protocol is an important instrument to protect the sensitive alpine environment and to promote sustainable mobility in the Alps. It offers a template for effective international coordination and management of trans-alpine transport and strongly supports modal shift, in particular by promoting alternative modes of transport than road, especially for freight transport. It provides a valid framework for accompanying measures and contributes to lessening the fragmentation of pan Alpine transport policy.
The protocol has been ratified by all EU Alpine States. Italy completed its ratification process last October. Mr. Pat Cox, coordinator of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) Railway axis Berlin-Palermo, actively supported the Italian ratification process which eventually allowed achieving the EU ratification under Irish Presidency.
The Alpine Convention, signed in 1991 and in force since 1995, is an international Treaty between the eight Alpine countries (Austria, Germany, France, Italy, Lichtenstein, Monaco, Switzerland and Slovenia) as well as the European Union, which aims at promoting the protection of the Alps and their sustainable development. The Alpine Convention is the world's first legally binding international Treaty for the protection of a mountain range. For the first time a mountain area was defined as a functional unit as well as geographical cultural and economic environment facing common challenges.
The Transport protocol of the Alpine Convention was signed in 2000 and aims at reconciling the need to ensure accessibility and possibility to cross the Alps with the need to preserve vulnerable environment and landscapes. Even if inhabitants of central and peripheral Alpine regions benefit from better accessibility, the environmental effects of increasing transport are far greater than in the plains. The narrow valleys amplify the effects of pollutants and noise. Moreover, transport infrastructure is more expensive to build and maintain, it has a serious impact on the landscape, and it is linked to the consumption of scarce soil reserves. Freight transport on transit roads has generated massive protests in recent years. On all transalpine roads transport increases much faster than rail.
Helen Kearns (+32 2 298 76 38)
Dale Kidd (+32 2 295 74 61)
Further information on http://www.alpconv.org/