PART II - CONTRIBUTION OF COMMUNITY POLICIES TO COHESION
8 Transport policy
Transport Policy in the context of regional development
The Common Transport Policy has made a positive contribution to the
success of the Union in the past decade. The provision of high quality
transport services and infrastructure is an essential pre-requisite for
ensuring that all regions share in the prosperity that the Single Market
is creating. The opening up of markets has reduced prices and made distances
shrink to the benefit of peripheral areas. It has also, however, led to
a greater volume of traffic, which is now recognised as having negative
consequences for congestion, dependency on oil and the environment.
Traffic growth has been greater in the cohesion countries than in the
rest of the Union, due mainly to road passenger transport increasing at
twice the rate elsewhere as car use catches up. The Community has invested
substantially in infrastructure, where 'transport funds' (the Trans-European
Network-TEN - transport budget line) have been used in conjunction with
the Structural Funds, to give a major boost to the provision of infrastructure
in the regions. The revision of the Common Transport Policy now underway
seeks to improve the quality of transport as much as the services provided.
The Common Transport Policy through the 1990s
There were many achievements between 1992 and 2000. The supply of transport
services, notably by road and air, increased significantly as prices fell
in real terms. In road transport, outmoded restrictions were removed completely
in 1998. The opening up of air transport markets increased the number
of flights and lowered their cost. The main areas in which progress was
- the interconnection of national networks, particularly through the
development of the trans-European transport network, which has substantially
improved links within the cohesion countries and between these and the
Union. The completion of the high-speed rail network will improve links
between many regions. In addition, the new ISPA fund has been set up
to finance infrastructure projects in the candidate countries;
- the removal of bureaucratic controls and the technical harmonisation
of transport equipment, which has reduced costs through economies of
scale and removed technical barriers to international operations;
- 'interoperability' of rail networks, developed first for high-speed
trains in 1996, which is about to be extended generally.
However, there have also been negative aspects. In particular, congestion
in urban areas and along main international routes has increased dramatically
over the past decade as road traffic has grown.
During the 1990s, the issue of sustainability has gained importance.
Under Article 6 of the Treaty, environmental considerations have to be
integrated into the definition and implementation of Community policies
and activities to ensure development is sustainable. The concept of sustainability
includes not only environmental concerns but also economic and social
considerations. While environmental issues are important they have to
be balanced against competitiveness and social welfare.
Above all, transport should be safe. Road safety levels remain unacceptable,
with 42,000 killed on the EU's roads every year. It is of particular concern
that the situation in the cohesion countries is worse than elsewhere.
While they have 17% of EU population, they account for 26% of fatal road
accidents, suggesting that road improvements have not been matched by
gains in safety. Maritime safety is also capable of improvement.
Progress has been made in environmental protection, notably in air quality.
Community directives will reduce air pollution by 70% by 2010 thanks to
technical improvements in fuels and vehicles, though some emissions remain
a problem. Technical measures at European level are not a complete answer
and local measures need to be taken to reduce urban emissions. New infrastructure
can also help, as in the case of the Athens metro, which is expected to
reduce car use substantially. Transport accounted for 28% of CO2 emissions
in 1998. The EU Kyoto objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by
8% by 2008-2012 is far from being met and requires, among other changes,
a shift from road to other modes of transport.
To achieve such a shift was one of the aims of the 1992 White Paper.
Despite significant growth in short sea shipping, however, the potential
of environmentally-friendly modes of freight transport, such as inland
waterways and rail, has yet to be realised.
There is a clear need to update Community policy and to propose new measures
and priorities to improve the overall efficiency of the transport system.
The 1992 White Paper identified an inherent risk of the transport system
becoming unbalanced and unsustainable and this in effect has happened.
The revised policy has to tackle the challenge.
The trans-European transport network
There were major efforts in the 1990s to upgrade transport systems in
the assisted regions and cohesion countries to levels more similar to
those elsewhere in the EU. Since the mid-1990s, investment has increased
and projects started in the early 1990s, such as the Madrid-Seville high-speed
train or large sections of the Pathe motorway, have been completed.
In sea transport, the dominance of the northern ports has been challenged
by large growth in container traffic in the Mediterranean, as a result
of the new port of Gioia Tauro and investment in Algeciras and elsewhere.
Public private partnerships have brought stricter control of the risks
taken and of the work carried out. Spata airport in Greece and the Vasco
da Gama bridge in Portugal are good examples. The creation of special
project authorities in the public sector has also served to improve accountability