Commission gives member states report card on transport performance

Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc, welcomed MEPs' "excellent" and "ambitious" idea. [European Commission]

The European Commission is putting pressure on member states to step up their performance on transport–the Netherlands came in at the top of the list and Romania ranked last.

The Commission released its transport scoreboard today (20 November), ranking EU member states according to how they meet criteria for the internal market, investments and infrastructure, the EU Energy Union and renewable energy in transport, and road safety.

The Netherlands made the top of the Commission’s list and got a nod from the executive for its port and aviation infrastructure, “perceived as the best in the EU.”

Romania came in at the bottom of the scoreboard because of its high number of road deaths.

Commission officials acknowledge that the divide is big between top-scoring member states and those with the worst results.

Some member states face a slew of court cases for transport-related infringements. Italy ranked 25th out of the 28 member states because of its pending cases of alleged infringement of EU law, mostly involving maritime, aviation and rail transport. Italy also got low marks because of the average time it takes to ship cargo by sea from the country’s ports.

>>Read: Commission billions to go to large-scale transport infrastructure

The Commission is now accepting proposals for the second round of the Connecting Europe Facility, which will hand out €7.56 billion to transport infrastructure projects next fall.

Some of the countries that scored lowest on the Commission’s transport scoreboard—Romania, Poland and Bulgaria—are expected to submit proposals for those funds to finish up the ‘corridors’, or networks around Europe that the Commission prioritised to connect with different modes of transportation.

Commission officials acknowledged that countries that haven’t yet received much EU investment are lagging behind in the performance rankings. Transport infrastructure is a focus of grants from the Connecting Europe Facility programme and the so-called Juncker Plan, which will earmark loans from the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI) for transport projects.

The Commission wants funds from the Connecting Europe Facility to go primarily towards improving rail networks and transitioning road transport to rail.

The last scoreboard was released in 2014. But Commission officials said it will take more than one year until cash injections from any of the executive’s investment plans bring low-scoring member states up in the ranks.

The Commission described member states’ overall work on transport as “improving” and noted that previously closed rail freight markets have been opening up around the EU and driving competition.

>>Read: MEPs demand Commission propose tolls on trucks to curb CO2 emissions

The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) will see almost €30 billion in public money targeted at enhancing the EU's transport, energy and telecoms networks. €30 billion of the fund will go towards transport infrastructure. The European Commission is focusing on large-scale projects, particularly in its nine corridor networks, and on technology-driven infrastructure.

A first funding round was launched last year and targeted energy. Transport projects will be evaluated for funding as part of the second round early next year.

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