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International relations

Enlargement

The EU cooperates closely with the EU candidate and potential candidate countries in the Western Balkans, as well as with Turkey.

South East Europe Transport Observatory (SEETO) was established in 2004 by the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the Development of the South East Core Regional Transport. The MoU was signed by Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, the UN Mission in Kosovo and the European Commission.

SEETO aims to:

  •         develop the SEETO Comprehensive Network
  •         improve and harmonise regional transport policies and technical standards for the SEETO Comprehensive Network development
  •         maintain an effective coordination and communication network
  •         integrate the SEETO Comprehensive Network in the framework of the wider Trans European Network

The SEETO Comprehensive Network matches the TEN-T network and is now included in the new revised TEN-T guidelines. It consists of 6554 km of roads, 4807 km of rail, 4 rivers, 10 seaports, 17 airports and 8 inland waterway ports.

SEETO is supported by the Secretariat based in Belgrade. Its overall task is to assist in the implementation of the MoU. It has no executive powers, but its work underpins the entire SEETO network.

Annual Meetings of Ministers are organised within the SEETO framework once a year. The ministers meet to review progress and of the MoU implementation and consider changes to the MoU, if necessary. The last Annual Meeting took place in Antwerp on 29th November 2011 within the TEN-T Days.

Transport Community Treaty

 

In October 2008 the Commission proposed to create a Transport Community with the Western Balkans. Technical negotiations on the Transport Community Treaty were concluded at the end of 2010. However, the text could not be signed due to the outstanding issues of political nature.

The Transport Community Treaty aims to fully integrate the Western Balkans into EU's transport policies. The text is based on the Community acquis in transport regarding infrastructure development, market opening, technical interoperability, safety, environment and social legislation. The overarching goal is to have sustainable, affordable, efficient and safe transport in the Western Balkans, as well as better connections with the EU. The Treaty therefore complements the enlargement policy of the EU.

Turkey

Turkey is an important partner on transport due to its strategic location at the crossroad between Europe, the Middle East and the Caucasus. It plays a key role in the future extension of the Trans-European Network for Transport (TEN-T) to the neighbouring countries.

As Turkey is an EU candidate country, the Commission is working on improving transport relations with Turkey within the framework of accession process . There are two accession negotiations chapters dealing with transport: Chapter 14 on Transport Policy and Chapter 21 on Trans European networks.

Negotiations on Chapter 14 have been blocked since December 2006, when the Council decided that eight chapters (including Chapter 14) cannot be opened or closed until Turkey fully implements in a non-discriminatory way the Additional Protocol to the Association Agreement. However, progress has been made on Chapter 21. In 2011 the Turkish comprehensive network was included in the Commission proposal for the new TEN-T guidelines.  

The European Commission cooperates closely with Turkey in the field of aviation. The EU-Turkey Horizontal Air Agreement was initiated in March 2010 and is expected to be signed soon.

Additionally the EU is supporting financially both the development of the infrastructure as well as institution building in Turkey. Through the Instrument for Pre-Accession (IPA) the EU financed a number of Technical Assistance projects on rail, as well as projects aiming at development of capacities of the Civil Aviation Authority or Maritime authorities.