|Euro-Mediterranean partnership: Commission calls for development of a competitive, reliable Euro-Mediterranean transport network|
|The Commission is giving a big boost to the development of a Euro-Mediterranean transport network by publishing an analysis of the economic, political, financial and reliability dimensions. As part of the new proximity policy for relations with the Union's neighbours(1) and of the ongoing discussions on the future of the trans-European transport network (Van Miert Group), the communication adopted today is designed to define the challenges of the Euro-Mediterranean transport network more closely, with particular emphasis on the constraints which development of the network entails, including concerns about safety, security and funding. Loyola de Palacio, the Commission Vice-President responsible for energy and transport, said that "The Euro-Mediterranean transport network must now progress beyond declarations of intent.
Today, on the eve of enlargement of the Union and of reinforcement of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership, there is an urgent need clearly to define the specific priorities, conditions and basic constraints bound up with establishing this network and to alert the players concerned, in both the public and private sectors, to the need for active support and greater cooperation in this field."
Modern, efficient transport networks are essential for the economic and social development of the Union's Mediterranean partners and for strengthening their ties with the Union. Traffic across the Mediterranean is particularly dense. The European Union is by far the leading maritime partner for a large number of Mediterranean countries, in particular the Maghreb, and most of the trade between the two shores of the Mediterranean is carried by sea. Thanks to tourism, the EU is also the most important partner for most Mediterranean countries for air travel, while the cruise industry is expanding, with high levels of activity in the Mediterranean region.
The communication published today provides an inventory of the conditions and preparatory action needed in order to turn the Euro-Mediterranean transport network into reality:
Planning the network and identifying priority infrastructure projects: For this exercise launched in the framework of the MEDA programme, the Commission recommends an approach based on corridors, a method which has already proved its worth in the candidate countries and the Balkans. Bearing in mind the specific conditions in the Mediterranean region, the network will be multimodal, with sea and air predominating.
The plans for the network will have to give particular priority to development of the motorways of the sea linking the corridors and seaboards in the Member States to those of their Mediterranean partners. The communication also stresses the need to organise a Euro-Mediterranean Conference of Transport Ministers, under one of the forthcoming Presidencies of the Union, to approve the list of priority projects identified for the network.
Making available the funding necessary for completion of the network: The communication stresses the need to mobilise and combine the funds available - from both public and private sources - at Euro-Mediterranean level. To this end, it recommends turning to public-private partnerships and stresses the key role of the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP) set up recently within the EIB. It also states that it would be advisable to establish an independent authority responsible for network promotion and for the financial arrangements for major infrastructure projects.
Incorporating common transport policy objectives:
Maritime safety: An incident like the sinking of the Erika or of the Prestige would be disastrous in an enclosed sea with such a fragile environment as the Mediterranean. The communication therefore calls for approximation, and in due course harmonisation, of the laws of the Mediterranean partners with Community rules and international legislation. To this end, the Mediterranean partners could conceivably participate in the work of the European Maritime Safety Agency.
Air transport: Similarly, convergence between the laws of the Mediterranean partners and the Community rules must be encouraged, whether on air safety, on access to the market possibly in the form of conclusion of "open sky" agreements between the Union and Mediterranean partners - or on air traffic management (single sky). In this field too, participation by the Mediterranean partners in the European Aviation Safety Agency could be envisaged.
Security in maritime and air transport: It is essential that the Mediterranean partners incorporate into their national laws security regulations equivalent to the rules adopted by the Union and introduce efficient means of enforcement. To promote this process, the communication proposes setting up a Euro-Mediterranean Institute for Safety and Security in one of the Mediterranean partner countries.
GALILEO: The communication repeats that the Galileo joint undertaking is open to public and private entities from the Mediterranean partners which are willing to contribute to its capital and calls for closer cooperation on frequency allocation, training and demonstration of future applications. This cooperation will be reinforced by establishing a GALILEO Training and Demonstration Centre in one of the Mediterranean partner countries.
Finally, in this communication the Commission stresses the need to boost subregional cooperation in order to make greater use of complementary features and to help integrate the markets, thereby making it easier to establish a Euro-Mediterranean transport network.
Brussels,06 30 2003
European Union Redaction