Transport Integration Planned
The European Commission has revealed plans to improve European transport connections. The Neighbourhood Transport Action Plan will focus on improving connections with Eastern and Southern Europe in the bid to create a safer and more reliable transport network in Europe.
Vice President of the European Commission, Siim Kallas, said:
“Freedom of movement of is something we all tend to take for granted in Europe, but it shouldn’t stop at the border.”
Kallas also expressed;
“Today if we are serious about a relationship with our European 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.”
The plan, which is yet to be presented to the Council and the European Parliament, proposes transport measures that need to be put in place in order to benefit both citizens and companies. The plan will also deepen market integration to the advantage of both the EU and its neighbouring regions. The plan suggests:
- 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 co-operation, by establishing an Eastern Partnership Transport Panel to oversee co-operation 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.
On average, 40% of total transportation time is lost at the borders due to divergences in administrative procedures. Low levels of road safety in some European countries are also an issue, creating direct concern for the EU. The proposed plan will help neighbouring countries develop and implement actions to increase road safety. Neighbouring support will come in the form of awareness campaigns and road safety audits. The plan will also strengthen customs cooperation with countries that include Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine to facilitate border crossings.
Transport contributes significantly to our economy. It enables goods to be distributed efficiently and citizens to travel freely. The transport industry directly employs around 10 million people and accounts for about 5% of GDP in the EU. So far, much has been achieved in making the European transport system more efficient. Market opening and development of Trans-European transport networks have removed barriers and bottlenecks. Through closer cooperation in transport, similar benefits can be extended to neighbouring countries.
The plan will see both EU member states and neighbouring non EU countries benefit from the integration system. The EU is a major political and economic partner of countries in its neighbouring regions. Improving transport connections and promoting a safe, secure and environmentally friendly transport system can help neighbours to become economically stronger and politically more stable. Similarly, the extension of the Trans-European Transport Network beyond the EU’s borders can facilitate in the flow of goods and passengers increasing economic activity with neighbouring regions.
Closer transport integration will also offer new market opportunities for companies, both in the EU and neighbouring countries. Having common safety and security standards on both sides of the border will ensure a level playing field for all operators and companies.