More money needed for EU transport infrastructure

Financial inaction on transport infrastructure is a major failing of EU transport policy and could put economic growth in the Union at risk, states a report backed on 8 May by the Parliament’s Transport Committee.

The Parliament is “not satisfied with the progress of the European transport policy”, particularly as regards financing and the implementation of legislation by member states, according to an own-initiative report by Hungarian MEP Etelka Barsi-Partaky on the mid-term review of the Commission’s 2001 Transport White Paper (see our LinksDossier on the White Paper). 

The report, to be submitted to plenary on 19 June, backs the Commission’s Communication on the mid-term review but says that the EU transport policy remains weak due to the “insufficient application and the incomplete execution of the transport legislation”. This “is one of the main barriers to a successful European transport policy”, it states.

It adds that Europe’s transport networks are plagued by a general lack of financing and political support, causing major delays in the building of crucial transport corridors. It urges the Commission to come forward with “more creative and courageous” financing solutions and asks for the rapid development of a clear model to assess and address external costs in the sector. 

In the meantime, due to the lack of funds, the Committee advises that priority trans-European transport network (TEN-T) projects be selected on the basis of their financial feasibility and the @financial willingness of the concerned member states and their regions@. 

The TEN-T budget has indeed been fixed at a mere €8 billion for the 2007-2013 period – far from the €225 billion needed just to complete the 30 priority projects – and the Committee wants to see these resources increased when member states review the seven-year EU budget in 2008 (see our LinksDossier on TEN-T). 

The report also emphasises the need to continue shifting transport demand towards modes with a lesser environmental impact, such as rail, bus and coach, maritime transport or inland waterways, and underlines the potential of intelligent transport systems and technological innovations, in all modes, to improve both environmental and safety performance, as well as to enhance traffic efficiency and reduce congestion. 

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