On 6 December, the Transport Council reached a political agreement on the Marco Polo programme, a financing instrument aimed at encouraging the modal shift in freight transport.
On 6 December 2002, the Council agreed on a budget of 75 million euro for a four-year period running from 1 January 2003 to 31 December 2006. This falls short of the sum of 85 million euro, described by Transport Commissioner Loyola de Palacio as the “absolute minimum” if the programme is to produce the results anticipated.
Minimum subsidy thresholds for the various categories of action have not yet been set.
While the programme is to start officially on 1 January 2003, a 2 million budget has been offerd for specific pilot actions already in 2002. The Commission is starting contract negotiations with the leaders of two shipping projects and one rail project to finanlise the contracts before the end of this year.