Marco Polo Programme: EP agrees totally with Council’s common position

On 3 July, MEPs agreed to accept without amendments the Council’s common position on the Marco Polo Programme which promotes transport intermodality. The thresholds for funding projects to reduce pressure on the European road networks are reduced in order to allow funding for smaller innovative projects.

In order to enable the Marco Polo Programme to launch its calls for tender as soon as possible, the Parliament agreed to accept the Council’s Common position without amendments in second reading.

The Parliament proposed a reduction in the minimum subsidy thresholds for each of the three categories of actions which halves the amounts proposed by the Commission. To provide funding to smaller innovative projects, for example those proposed by a consortium of SMEs. The following actions will be funded:

  • modal transfer measures (start-up aid for new non-road freight services): the minimum subsidy threshold is 500,000 euro instead of the Commission’s 1 million;
  • catalyst measures (launching new services offsetting market shortcomings): the minimum subsidy threshold is 1.5 million euro instead of the Commission’s 3 million;
  • common learning actions: (aid for cooperation and know-how transfers): the minimum subsidy threshold is 250,000 euro instead of the Commission’s 500,000.


TheCommunity of European Railways (CER)is disappointed that the budget and length of this programme were reduced.


The goal of the Marco Polo programme is to help stabilise the balance between modes of transport at 1998 levels by 2010, as laid down in the Commission's White Paper on transport. This means that the expected growth in road freight (about 12 billion tonne-kilometres per year) needs to be shifted to other modes of transport, such as short-sea shipping, rail and inland waterways.

The programme consists of three types of actions: modal shift actions, catalyst actions and common learning actions.

In its draft regulation of 4 February 2002, the Commission proposed a financial framework for the programme of 115 milion euro for a five-year period running from 1 January 2003 to 31 December 2007.

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.


The Marco Polo Programme should be fully operational from 2003. By 31 December 2005 at the latest, the Commission has to present an assessment report on the results of the programme.


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