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The Lyon-Turin new railway link – The Commission reiterates its full support for the project

Two high speed trains

Following the beginning of the works at the Maddalena exploratory tunnel and the meeting of the French–Italian intergovernmental conference in Rome on 6 July, the Commission remains committed to support France and Italy in the completion of the Lyon–Turin railway axis. This key missing link of the trans-European transport network will connect not only two major European cities and regions but complete a major European east–west transport corridor linking the Iberian peninsula to central Europe and contributing to Europe's economic growth.


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EU Neighbourhood Transport Plan

map of Europe showing eastern partners

One of the EU's most ambitious policies is the development of closer relations between the European Union and its neighbours to the East and South, promoting democracy, pursue sustainable economic growth and manage cross border links. Closer economic integration and increased mobility of goods and passengers with our neighbours is both a great opportunity and a challenge for the future. With this Communication the Commission has set out a policy framework for promoting transport infrastructure and market development in the EU’s neighbourhood through transport, enlargement and neighbourhood policies. Missing links in infrastructure, lack of security and safety and cumbersome administrative procedures hamper transport flows. The Commission has put forward a number of measures to make transport connections with the neighbouring countries more efficient. Those measures target both infrastructure connections and transport operations. On infrastructure, the Trans-European Transport Network will have to join up the EU and Neighbouring countries through transport infrastructure priority projects. On operations, measures set out by the Commission aim at ensuring the interoperability between the EU transport system and those of neighbouring countries. For example, integrating neighbouring countries in the EU's internal aviation market will offer more business opportunities for the operators and a greater choice to passengers.

What are the key actions proposed by the Commission?

To achievecloser transport market integration with the neighbouring countries, the Commission published on 7 July a new EU Neighbourhood Transport Action Plan setting out over 20 actions for the short and longer term to strengthen transport connections. The full detail of these measures are set out in the Communication on "The EU and its neighbouring regions: A renewed approach to transport cooperation".


In the aviation sector, closer integration with the EU´s neighbours aims to create a wider European Common Aviation Area, covering 1 billion people in the EU and all neighbouring countries on its southern and eastern borders. The annual growth in the number of air passengers between the EU and the Southern neighbourhood has been 6.7% on average and 11.6% between the EU and Eastern neighbourhood in the period 2004-2009.

Proposed actions:

  • Complete negotiations for comprehensive air services agreements with neighbours that are interested and ready to participate;
  • Continue assistance for the modernisation of air traffic management systems;
  • Assist in achieving EU and international levels of aviation safety and security;
  • Integrate neighbours into the Single European Sky.

Maritime and inland waterway transport

In terms of tonnage, 90% of freight movements between the EU and the rest of the world are seaborne. The vision for maritime transport is one of quality shipping that is competitive and has good environmental, safety and security performance. This is a shared interest of the EU and of its neighbours, who share regional seas.

Proposed actions:

  • Help to improve Flag State performance and compliance with safety, security and social standards;
  • Promote the participation of neighbouring countries in the European SafeSeaNet and CleanSeaNet services;
  • Assist in achieving EU and international standards in inland navigation;
  • Promote closer integration of the neighbouring countries to the “Blue Belt” of free maritime movement in and around Europe.
  • Promote the implementation of the Motorways of the Seas concept

Road transport

Road transport plays a key role in trade flows with those neighbouring countries with which the EU shares a land border. However, cumbersome administrative procedures at border crossings remain an obstacle to the efficient flow of goods between the EU and its neighbours in the East. On average, 40% of total transportation time is lost at the borders due to divergences in administrative procedures. Low levels of road safety in neighbouring countries are also an issue of direct concern for the EU.

Proposed actions:

  • Assist in digital tachograph deployment;
  • Help neighbouring countries to develop and implement actions that increase road safety, from awareness campaigns to road safety audits;
  • Study the potential effect of gradual road market opening with selected neighbouring countries;
  • Strengthen customs cooperation with Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine to facilitate border crossings;
  • Enlarge the scope of the Interbus Agreement to include international regular carriage of passengers by coach and bus and extend it to countries covered by the European Neighbourhood Policy.

Rail transport

The most significant rail freight flows between the EU and its neighbours are East-West. In the last decade, there has been a 7% increase in the volume of rail freight between the EU and its immediate neighbours in the East (Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine). Growth of up to 40% in rail freight demand with the EU´s Eastern Neighbours is forecast by 2020.

In the EU, opening of the rail freight market has enabled new companies to enter the market, lowered prices and initially increased volumes despite the effects of the economic crisis. A further boost could be given to the railway sector by strengthening rail cooperation with neighbouring countries.

Proposed actions:

  • Specify the 1520/1524 mm track gauge system in the standards developed by the European Railway Agency (ERA);
  • Promote the deployment of the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) in neighbouring countries;
  • Promote the participation of enlargement and neighbouring countries in the activities of the ERA;
  • Study trans-shipment (from 1520 mm to 1435 mm and vice versa) practices at connecting points and try to improve them, including via research activities;
  • Explore the possibility of an opening of the rail market with the ENP countries.

Infrastructure connections

To improve and promote infrastructure connections, the Commission will focus on three key elements: defining the networks, prioritising projects and mobilising financing.

Proposed actions:

  • Define strategic transport networks in neighbouring regions connected to the revised TEN-T;
  • Prepare a potential pipeline of priority transport projects that connect the neighbouring countries with the EU;
  • Strengthen the Commission's transport cooperation with the International Financial Institutions;
  • Enlarge the scope of the TENtec Information System to cover all countries in the neighbouring regions.


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