EU Transport Ministers discuss the future of the Trans-European Transport Network
On 8 February 2011, the transport ministers of the 27 Member States, European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas and Chairman of the TRAN Committee of European Parliament Brian Simpson held a policy debate on the review of the TEN-T trans-European transport network at Gödöllő. The participants of the informal ministerial meeting initiated by the Hungarian Presidency reviewed issues related to transport network planning methodology and financing.
The European Commission is expected to publish its legislative proposal on the review of the TEN-T policy this summer. The ministers’ meeting held in Hungary offered an opportunity for a high-level discussion on the future of the TEN-T policy. Member States confirmed to the Hungarian Presidency that its choice to put the TEN-T policy revision on the agenda of this informal ministerial meeting was timely and essential.
Ministers expressed their appreciation for the Presidency’s efforts to orient the debate and provided constructive contributions to the questions formulated by the Hungarian Presidency. The Commission Staff Working Document on the new TEN-T policy planning and implementation issues has been confirmed as a good basis for the TEN-T revision. The Commission intends to take into account the Member States’ views and hold high-level bilateral consultations with Member States on the detailed core network maps before presenting its new TEN-T Guidelines proposal.
Member States supported the development of a wide comprehensive network while concentrating the efforts on the core network of the highest strategical importance. Broad consensus was reached that the lack of financial resources due to the current economic crisis does not mean that the extension of the long-term network should be reduced. Ministers welcomed the intention of the Commission to continue to make EU funding available to develop the comprehensive network in the future, in particular in Member States eligible for Cohesion Fund. They supported the principle that the TEN-T and the cohesion policies could be better coordinated, while the different funds should contribute to their overall policy framework and objectives. They discussed innovative financing instruments which could better mobilize private financing; however these financial instruments could neither be a systematic solution nor a general alternative to state budget or European Union financing.
Minister of State for Infrastructure Pál Völner, holding the Presidency of Transport Council pointed out: “Social and economic cohesion cannot be achieved without the construction of all the missing elements of the complete TEN-T network and improving the existing infrastructure elements that are in a poor condition. Insufficient accessibility may slow down economic development in the entire European Union.”
European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, said: "This review of the trans-European transport network policy comes at a crucial time for Europe. This will be of vital help if European businesses are to remain competitive and we are to make transport more sustainable. We will need to effectively link the Eastern and Western parts of the Union so that all Member States enjoy full access to the internal market."
The Hungarian Presidency, the European Commission and the transport ministers are convinced that the TEN-T policy should contribute to boosting economic growth, enhancing Europe’s competitiveness and sustainability and to facilitating balanced development of the European regions in the future.