Brussels, 07 July 2011 - The European Commission today published a new Neighbourhood Transport Action Plan to strengthen transport links with neighbouring regions to the East and South of the EU. The plan proposes more than 20 concrete measures, in the short and longer term, to make transport connections smoother, safer and more reliable. At the same time, it will deepen market integration to the advantage of both the EU and its neighbouring regions. The plan was presented on 7 July 2011 by Vice President Siim Kallas responsible for Transport and and Commissioner Stefan Füle, Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood policy.
Vice-President Kallas said: "Freedom of movement is something we all tend to take for granted in Europe, but it shouldn't stop at the border. Today if we are serious about a relationship with our neighbours we need to provide the infrastructure which is essential for flows of goods and people across borders and cut away the bureaucracy and bottlenecks."
Commissioner Füle said: "In the new and ambitious European Neighbourhood Policy launched on 25 May of this year, we offer a deeper economic integration to our neighbours in the East and South. This action plan proposes the concrete transport measures that we aim to put in place for the benefit of citizens and companies both in the neighbourhood and in Europe.''
Transport cooperation with the EU's neighbouring regions has so far taken place under a number of bilateral and regional initiatives -there is already, for example, a transport regional initiative for neighbours to the South. This new action plan builds on the results achieved so far, strengthens in particular connections to the east and brings together regional transport cooperation into a single policy.
Key measures for connecting the transport systems of the EU and its neighbours include:
- Extending the EU's internal aviation market and Single European Sky to neighbouring regions;
- Joining up the Trans-European Transport Network with infrastructure of the EU's neighbours through priority transport projects;
- Making better use of rail freight potential by opening markets and by alleviating technical barriers such as differences in rail gauge sizes;
- Streamlining the implementation of regional transport cooperation, by establishing an Eastern Partnership Transport Panel to oversee cooperation with neighbours to the east;
- Making sea transport with the neighbouring countries more efficient, including in the longer term, through their inclusion in the “Blue Belt” of free maritime movement in and around Europe;
- Helping neighbouring countries to improve road safety;
For full details of more than 20 measures set out in the Action plan see MEMO/11/488.
These actions up to 2013 will be financed with existing resources through better prioritisation of projects and measures. In its recent Communication on a Budget for Europe 2020, the Commission proposed adding flexibility to possible financing for strategic infrastructure projects linking the EU and its neighbours. This will be followed up in the negotiations on the future financial framework.
What are the next steps?
The Commission's plan will next be presented to the Council and the European Parliament. In October 2011, the new Eastern Partnership Transport Panel which will oversee the implementation of the measures to the East, will be launched at a ministerial conference organised under the Polish EU Presidency (24-25 October 2011 in Krakow.)
More information on transport cooperation with neighbouring countries at:
Anca Paduraru (+32 2 296 64 30)
Helen Kearns (+32 2 298 76 38)
Dale Kidd (+32 2 295 74 61)
Neighbouring regions are countries covered by the European neighbourhood policy and the enlargement policy, which do not have already special relations with the EU. East: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine; South: Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Occupied Palestinian Territory, Syria, Tunisia. Candidate countries: Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Turkey and Iceland. Potential candidates: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo (under UNSCR 1244/99). Iceland is not covered by the Communication in view of the focus on transport connections and market integration
Commission Communication "The EU and its neighbouring regions: A renewed approach to transport cooperation", COM(2011) 415