Commission to boost economic growth through big transport projects

On 1 October, the Commission will put forward a new list of trans-European transport network (TEN-T) priority projects and a major revision of the TEN-T Guidelines.

On 1 October, the Commission is expected to propose a fundamental revision of the TEN-T Guidelines to take account of enlargement and expected changes in traffic flows. This proposal should improve the guidelines for financing the Trans-European Transport Network, which date back to the end of the 1980s and the creation of the Single Market. Following the Van Miert Report, the new method for selecting priority projects should be based on three main criteria: promotion of mobility between Member States, impact on territorial cohesion and contribution to the development of a sustainable transport system.

The Commission’s proposal, which will include a list of priority project, should concentrate on a primary network made up of the most important infrastructure for international traffic and cohesion on the European continent, introduce the concept of ‘sea motorways’ and include sections of pan-European corridors situated on the territory of candidate countries, including those which will still not be members of the Union at that time.

The Commission is expected to approve all or almost all of the list of projects identified as priority projects in the Van Miert report. Intense Lobbying has been ongoing to include some omitted projects in the Commission’s list.


Transport Commissioner Loyola de Palaciobelieves that although a greater emphasis must be placed on railways and shipping, the road sector "must not be penalised". Also, she would like the Mediterranean region to become a "key priority".

The Parliament's rapporteur on the TEN-T guidelines,Philip Bradbourn (EPP-ED, UK)says it is important not to focus too much on some modes of transport (such as the railways and inland waterways), excluding road transport. He insists that in each case the most appropriate mode should be chosen, taking into account also economic criteria.

The Alliance of Maritime Regional Interests (AMRIE) strongly supports the general thrust of the Van Miert report, including its emphasis on the sustainability of trans-European transport networks and their proven meeting of economic, social, and environmental objectives and conditions. It welcomes the need for priority to be given to the development of ‘sea motorways’.

Green groupshave called for an obligation to carry out Strategic Environmental Assessments (SAE) to be included in the new guidelines. The respective Directive enters into force in July 2004. This demand was also taken up by the Parliament in its first reading of the proposed new guidelines.

Transport & Environment (T&E), together with WWF and BirdLifeexpressed comments on the revision of the TEN-T directive, accompanied by some examples where projects are incompatible with environment protection legislation.


The Trans-European Network for Transport (TEN-T) comprises infrastructures (roads, railways, waterways, ports, airports, navigation aids, intermodal freight terminals and product pipelines), together with the services necessary for the operation of these infrastructures.

The guidelines for TEN-T, adopted in 1996, are currently undergoing a major review. To assist the Commission in drafting its proposal for this review, a High-Level Group was set up in January 2003 under the leadership of former Competition Commissioner Karel Van Miert. It included representatives of all 15 Member States and 12 candidate countries.

On 30 June 2003, Karel Van Miert presented the recommendations of his working group for a new list of priority infrastructure projects on the Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T) to the Commission. (See

EURACTIV, 8 July 2003)


The final decision on t he TEN-T Guidelines should be reached by mid-2004.


Subscribe to our newsletters