The extension of networks to neighbouring countries is one of the objectives set out in the recent Communication on the Strengthening of the European Neighbourhood Policy. The proposed Neighbourhood Investment Fund also provides a suitable mechanism to encourage investment in the transport sector and, therefore, to support the actions included in these guidelines. Additional funding can also come from the new increased EIB external lending mandate for the neighbourhood.
The Guidelines outline the first steps of a comprehensive policy for closer integration of the EU transport system with neighbouring countries. This policy focuses on the main infrastructure for international transport and the legislation governing the use of these routes by different transport modes. Over time, it should lead to common rules and regulations for the transport sector as a whole and thus create an effective transport market involving the EU and its neighbours.
The five transnational axes identified are:
- Motorways of the Seas: to link the Baltic, Barents, Atlantic (including Outermost Regions of Canary Islands, Azores and Madeira), Mediterranean, Black and the Caspian Sea areas as well as the littoral countries within the sea areas and with an extension through the Suez Canal towards the Red Sea;
- Northern axis: to connect the northern EU with Norway to the north and with Belarus and Russia to the east. A connection to the Barents region linking Norway through Sweden and Finland with Russia is also foreseen;
- Central axis: to link the centre of the EU to Ukraine and the Black Sea and through an inland waterway connection to the Caspian Sea. A direct connection from Ukraine to the Trans-Siberian railway and a link from the Don/Volga inland waterway to the Baltic Sea are also included;
- South Eastern axis: to link the EU with the Balkans and Turkey and further with the Southern Caucasus and the Caspian Sea as well as with the Middle East up to Egypt and the Red Sea;
- South Western axis: to connect the south-western EU with Switzerland and Morocco, including the trans-Maghrebin link connecting Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia and its extension to Egypt.