Euro-Mediterranean ministers to boost regional economic integration
Transport ministers from 43 countries of the Euro-Mediterranean area met in Brussels on 14 November 2013 and confirmed their commitment to boost cooperation. The aim is to establish a well-connected area for aviation, rail, maritime and road transport. Regional integration in transport will strengthen economic exchanges and create business opportunities in the Euro-Mediterranean region.
European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, said: "Cooperation in the transport sector is key for the social and economic integration of the Mediterranean area. It will facilitate trade, connect people, and bring prosperity on all sides of the Mediterranean."
In the Joint Declaration released after the Conference Ministers have agreed on:
- the priorities and guidelines for future cooperation on regulatory reforms and convergence;
- the development of the Trans-Mediterranean Transport Network (TMN-T) and its future connection to the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T);
- the organisation of another conference before the end of 2015 to address funding of the development of the TMN-T.
The achievements of the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation in the transport sector so far are:
- Regulatory reform and convergence in all modes of transports, 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.
- Aviation agreements that the EU has signed with Morocco, Israel and Jordan, and is ready to negotiate and conclude such agreements with other partner countries. Aviation agreements open the air services market between the EU and the partner countries, that in parallel converge with the EU aviation standards (safety and security, air traffic and airports management, environment).
- Infrastructure projects that have been financed in the areas of road, rail, port and logistics by the EU, the European Investment Bank and the Secretariat of 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.
Background information on the Euro-Mediterranean transport cooperation
Relations in the field of transport between the European Union and its southern Partners were formally established in 1995 in Barcelona. The key priority of this cooperation is achievement of a safe, sustainable and efficient transport system in the Euro-Mediterranean area.
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). 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. 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.
In 2011, the European Commission presented a plan to build better transport connections with the EU's neighbours. Since then, the cooperation focuses on removing the barriers to smooth transport and promotes regulatory convergence in areas like safety, security, social affairs and environmental protection. Responding to the 2011 events in the region, the EU also promoted a specific partnership for democracy and shared prosperity for the Southern Mediterranean.
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