Connecting Europe: Transport
EU Transport Policy is there to put in place the transport infrastructure and interconnections to underpin the Single Market, to ensure the free-flow of goods and people and to support growth, jobs and EU competitiveness. In the past, transport systems in Europe developed largely along national lines. This led to poor or lacking transport interconnections at the borders, or along key corridors. Weak transport interconnections hamper economic growth. On the other hand, every million we spend though the TEN-T fund at European level generates 5 million in investment from Member State Governments. And every million generates 20 million from the private sector. It is estimated that removing 20-25 major bottlenecks to create a core European transport network over the period 2014-2020 would have a very significant impact on economic growth, potentially generating up to 2.9 million jobs. Already today, Another challenge is interoperability. Simply put, the national hardware (rail track widths, safety certification systems, electrification systems, rail signalling etc.) does not join up. Planes have to contact different air traffic controllers in every country they cross. These technical barriers result in duplication and delays. These are also hugely costly and inefficient. Since the 1970s, European transport policy has been working to create key connections and remove the many bottlenecks and barriers blocking the free-flow of goods and people. The results have been very significant.
EU air liberalisation truly changed the face of air transport. The emergence of low cost airlines would simply not have been possible without the EU starting to open up markets in the 1990s. The EU now has 20 low-cost carriers, representing 40.2% of the internal EU market. In 1990 there were none. Thanks to air liberalisation, millions of consumers have gained access to a much greater choice of air routes at far more competitive prices. Liberalisation dramatically boosted the number of air passengers and routes served. Scheduled passenger carriers have risen from 135 to 152, and the average number of routes inside the Union has increased by 140% from 1,680 to 4,000 between 1992 and 2010. At the same time, competition has intensified: routes with more than two competitors have increased by 415% from 93 to 479 (Source: Official Airline Guide). The number of intra-EU passengers has increased from 367 million in 2000 to 480 million in 2009.
Building the missing links, upgrading infrastructure: EU money has been used to partially finance – and stimulate significant investment from Member States – to build missing links and upgrade sections of key transport and corridors. These missing links would probably not be constructed by any one Member State acting on its own – they require European support and co-ordination, sometimes between several Member States.
Malmo – Copenhagen: The Øresund bridge is the longest combined road and rail bridge in Europe. It opened to traffic on 1 July 2000. The project cost was €2.7 billion and there were no budget overruns. The EU budget contributed €127 million. Rail travel has developed quickly with a growth of 230% since 2001, with 11.2 million passengers in 2009. Also in that year, 7 million vehicles crossed the Øresund Bridge. Thanks to this interconnection an increasing number of businesses have activities on the other side of Øresund. The most successful examples of cooperation are the Øresund University and the Øresund Science Region. The Øresund fixed link demonstrates the extent to which infrastructure is essential for the functioning of the Internal Market.
The high-speed railway axis Paris – Brussels – Cologne – Amsterdam – London: The first European cross-border high-speed rail network linking Paris-Brussels-Cologne-Amsterdam-London was completed in 2007. It has brought substantial reductions in journey times between the five countries and provides passengers with a real alternative to air and road transport. Journey times were more than halved (e.g. from over 3 hours to 1h22 on the Paris-Brussels link and from over 5 hours to 1h50 on the London-Brussels link). In many cases, the new high speed rail line has completely taken over from traditional air routes. The project has resulted in a huge modal shift from air and road to rail. For example, the number of Eurostar and Thalys passengers increased from 6.5 million in 1995 to 15.3 million in 2009. Airlines no longer provide a service between Paris and Brussels, as taking the train is faster than flying. The EU TEN-T programme provided €720 million in funding while the EIB lent €1.8 billion on a total project cost of €17.3 billion.
The Single European Sky
European skies and airports risk saturation. Without substantial investment to support the deployment of Europe's air traffic management system (the Single European Sky), our airports will be jam-packed. Concretely, by 2030 19 airports will be operating at full capacity eight hours a day, every day of the year, affecting 50% of all flights on departure or arrival or both. In 2007 only 5 airports were operating at or near capacity, involving 17% of flights. But Europe would not only reject a large portion of potential demand. It would also be vulnerable to regular delays and flight cancellations on an unprecedented scale. If we continue with business as usual, congestion costs will increase around 50% by 2050. The main problem is that the air traffic management system is archaic; the basic technologies used date from the 1950s. The solution is European and has a name: SESAR, a joint initiative of the European Commission, EUROCONTROL and the aviation sector with the aim of a) tripling airspace capacity, b) improving safety tenfold, c) reducing environmental impact by 10%, d) reducing air traffic management costs by 50%; and e) shorten passengers' flight time by 10% and reduce cancellations by 50%.
Video on the future of flying
Electric cars are being developed and rolled out on the market. But we need to develop common basic standards for electric charging points across the EU - otherwise you will cross from France to Germany without being able to refuel. That work has started. 42 partners from industry, the energy sector, electric vehicles manufacturers, municipalities as well as universities and research institutions have joined forces to develop and to demonstrate a commonly accepted and user-friendly framework for the charging infrastructure. The project called 'Green emotion' has a total budget of €41.8 million and will be funded from the European Commission with €24.2 million. Green eMotion will connect ongoing regional and national electromobility initiatives leveraging on the results and comparing the different technology approaches to promote the best solutions for the European market.