In July 1996 the European Parliament and Council adopted Decision No 1692/96/EC on Community guidelines for the development of the trans-European transport network (TEN-T).
The TEN-T Guidelines are the general reference framework for the implementation of the transport network and for identifying projects of common interest. The guidelines aim at integrating national networks and modes of transport, linking peripheral regions of the European Union to the centre, and improving safety and efficiency of the networks. They cover roads, railways, inland waterways, airports, seaports, inland ports and traffic management systems, serving the entire EU-15 territory, carrying the bulk of the long distance traffic and tying the EU’s geographical and economic regions closer together.
A list of 14 major projects (the “Essen projects”) was included in the Decision 1692/96/EC as the first priorities to realise the network. The time horizon for completing these projects was 2010.
In May 2001, the European Parliament and the Council adopted Decision No 1346/2001/EC , which amended the TEN-T Guidelines with respect to seaports, inland ports and intermodal terminals. It also specified the criteria for identifying projects of common interest in relation to these parts of the infrastructure. The amendment emphasised the multimodal dimension of the TEN-T by bringing seaports and inland ports fully into the network.
In April 2004, the European Parliament and the Council adopted Decision No 884/2004/EC , amending Decision No 1692/96/EC on Community guidelines for the development of the trans-European transport network. The April 2004 revision was a more fundamental change to the TEN-T policy, intended to take account of EU enlargement and consequent expected changes in traffic flows. The extension of the TEN-T to the new Member States supported a successful enlargement and provided the Union with a new opportunity to reduce congestion, improve accessibility and encourage intermodal transport.
The TEN-T Guidelines were also modified on the occasion of the EU enlargements of 2004 and 2007, on the basis of the following documents :
- Article 20 and Annex II, item 8F of the ACT
concerning the conditions of accession of the Czech Republic, the Republic of
Estonia, the Republic of Cyprus, the Republic of Latvia, the Republic of
Lithuania, the Republic of Hungary, the Republic of Malta, the Republic of
Poland, the Republic of Slovenia and the Slovak Republic and the adjustments to
the Treaties on which the European Union is founded (The Adhesion Act).
( Documents concerning the accession of the Czech Republic, the Republic of Estonia, the Republic of Cyprus, the Republic of Latvia, the Republic of Lithuania, the Republic of Hungary, the Republic of Malta, the Republic of Poland, the Republic of Slovenia and the Slovak Republic to the European Union )
- By Council Regulation (EC) No 1791/2006 of 20 November 2006 adapting certain Regulations and Decisions in the field of free movement of goods, freedom of movement of persons, company law, competition policy, agriculture (including veterinary and phytosanitary legislation), transport policy, taxation, statistics, energy, environment, cooperation, in the fields of justice and home affairs, customs union, external relations, common foreign and security policy and institutions, by reason of the accession of Bulgaria and Romania.
Moreover, the European Commission is going to adopt a proposal for a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on Community guidelines for the development of the trans-European transport network, in which the Decision No 1692/96/EC and the amending decisions have been consolidated in a single text [13 MB] .
The European Commission, on the basis of Article 23, item 3 of the Decision No 884/2004/EC, intends to propose new guidelines in 2010. Consequently, it opened a public debate in late January 2009 on the basis of a Green Paper on a review of the trans-European transport network (TEN-T) policy.
Growing environmental concerns were also taken into account and environmental protection requirements are integrated into the definition and implementation of Community policy on trans-European networks, in accordance with Article 6 of the Treaty.
Within the general objective of ensuring the sustainable mobility of persons and goods, mechanisms were also put in place to support the development of Motorways of the Sea between Member States, in order to reduce road congestion and/or improve access to peripheral and island regions and States. These measures are complementary to those taken under the Marco Polo programme covering short-sea shipping operations.
The 2004 TEN-T guidelines included a list of 30 priority projects which were declared to be of European interest (they include the original Essen projects). The cost of the 30 priority projects is estimated to be approximately EUR 400 billion by 2020 out of which EUR 126 billion had been spent up to 31.12.2006 and EUR 154 billion were expected to be invested in the current 2007-2013 programming period. The total cost of completing the entire TEN-T, including the projects of common interest not identified as priority projects, has been estimated at approximately EUR 900 billion, out of which EUR 408 billion had been spent up to 31.12.2006 and EUR 390 billion were expected to be invested during 2007-2013.
In order to give financial support to the implementation of the TEN-T guidelines, the Parliament and Council adopted Regulation No 680/2007/EC specifying general rules for the granting of Community aid in the field of trans-European networks (Regulation (EC) No 807/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 April 2004 amending Council Regulation (EC) No 2236/95 laying down general rules for the granting of Community financial aid in the field of trans-European networks). These regulations increased the maximum level of Community support for specific projects, providing a greater incentive for project implementation, including the setting up Public-Private Partnerships. The new rules also allow multi-annual commitments, providing greater flexibility to promoters of TEN-T projects.
In general, TEN-T projects are nonetheless funded to a major extent by from national governments. Other funding sources include: European Community funds (ERDF, Cohesion Fund, TEN-T budget), loans from international financial institutions (e.g. the European Investment Bank), and private funding.