2. TRANS-EUROPEAN NETWORKS
Draft Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council amending the guidelines for the transport Trans-European Network.
|Legal base:||Articles 154,155 and 156 EC; co-decision; qualified majority voting
|Document originated:||26 September 2002
|Deposited in Parliament:||14 October 2002
|Basis of consideration:||EM of 24 October 2002
|Previous Committee Report:||None
|To be discussed in Council:||No date set
|Committee's assessment:||Politically important
|Committee's decision:||For debate in European Standing Committee A
2.1 In October 2001 the Commission proposed a draft Decision
to amend the guidelines for development of the transport Trans-European
Network (TEN). The transport TEN is intended to "enable citizens
of the European Union to derive full benefit from the setting
up of an area without internal frontiers", and the existing
guidelines identify the main road, rail and inland waterway routes
along with ports and airports of common European interest.
2.2 The main changes proposed by the Commission were:
- measures to achieve a rail freight network and rail connections
with ports that promote short sea shipping and the use of inland
- promotion of integration between rail and air transport;
- plans for interoperable intelligent transport systems;
- amendment of the list of priority projects, removing three
completed projects (Malpensa airport, the Öresund bridge/tunnel
and the Cork-Belfast rail link) and adding six new ones:
- the global navigation and positioning satellite system (Galileo);
- a high-capacity trans-Pyrenees rail link;
- an East European (Stuttgart-Vienna) Combined Transport/High
- Danube river improvement, Vilshofen-Straubing;
- high-speed rail interoperability in Iberia; and
- the Fehmarn Belt fixed link between Denmark and Germany;
- encouragement of strategic environmental assessment of future
extensions to the network; and
- correction of maps to include missing links and to show technical
2.3 This draft Decision was cleared from scrutiny after
a debate in European Standing Committee A on 13 March 2002.
2.4 The Commission has revised its original draft following
the European Parliament's first reading. The revised draft still
covers the matters in paragraph 2.2 above, but it now has a more
explicit reference to further revision of the guidelines scheduled
for 2004; the current proposal is seen as the first stage in the
revision process with a second, more fundamental revision to follow.
And there is a new reference to a need for a significant increase
in the next financial perspective (which will run from 2007).
2.5 However the Commission's revised draft has been largely
overtaken by events. A text based on the original proposal was
tabled for political agreement at the Council on 3 October 2002.
It incorporated changes developed and agreed during meetings of
the Council Working Group. Political agreement was not secured.
The area of difficulty concerned the principle of additions to
the list of priority projects and not the main body of the text
itself. This matter remains fraught: there are now 22 new projects
proposed for inclusion by Member States. The UK is amongst the
majority of Member States arguing that there should be no change
to the list in advance of the fundamental review due in 2004.
However the UK has proposed, without prejudice to its position
on the principle, the inclusion of the East Coast Mainline rail
The Government's view
2.6 The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department
of Transport (Mr David Jamieson) tells us
"The UK position on the guidelines has not changed since
the previous Explanatory Memorandum was submitted (12597/01).
The UK continues to support the Commission's assessment that measures
are needed to address bottlenecks on the TEN, to promote short
sea shipping, to promote integration between rail and air, to
maximise interoperability of intelligent transport systems and
to facilitate links between the TEN and the transport network
in the accession countries. We also continue to support the emphasis
on environmental assessment of future extensions to the TEN.
"We still have concerns about the proposed addition of six
new priority projects, none of which is in the UK. However, one
of the six, the Galileo satellite navigation project, has already
reached an advanced stage of discussion with the release of TEN
funds for the development phase having been agreed at the March
2002 Transport Council. We would therefore be ready as a compromise
to add it to the priority project list if it meant that
the claims of the other five proposed priority projects were not
pursued at this stage. There is insufficient evidence to demonstrate
that the remaining five are indeed Europe's top priorities. This
is important for the UK because any new priority projects are
certain to attract significant financial support from the Community,
particularly with the Commission's proposal to increase the amount
of TEN support the Community can contribute from 10% to 20% of
project costs. More funds for these projects would undoubtedly
lead to a reduction in the amount of funding available for UK
projects. Along with most other Member States, the UK would prefer
to see decisions on new priority projects postponed until the
more fundamental revision of the guidelines scheduled for 2004.
"The are two other areas of the revised text that run counter
to UK interests. The first is the renewed emphasis in the revised
proposal to developing a rail network giving priority to freight.
Although the concept was included in the original text, the version
tabled for political agreement had been softened to refer to appropriate
priority to be given to rail freight. This was acceptable to the
UK where it is very important that the needs of the passenger
network are not adversely affected by freight traffic.
"The revised text also makes a new and
unwelcome reference to a need to increase the amount of TEN funds
in the next financial perspective, which runs from 2007. We believe
such a presumption is premature and should in any case be considered
as a formal proposal under the provisions of EU Budgetary procedures."
2.7 The Minister also mentions that the related draft
Council Regulation about the financing of TEN projects, which
we cleared on 6 March 2002
and which was also discussed by European Standing Committee A
on 13 March 2002, is still under discussion.
2.8 Finally, the Minister tells us:
"We understand that the Danish Presidency does not plan to
seek an agreement at the December 2002 Transport Council. The
intentions of the Greek Presidency in the first half of 2003 are
not yet known. With a further revision to the TEN Guidelines scheduled
for 2004, it is possible that the current proposals will not now
be taken forward and will be incorporated into the Commission's
proposals in 2004, leaving the provisions [the existing guidelines]
of Decision 1692/96/EC
2.9 We note the Government's continued opposition
to premature expansion of the list of priority projects and its
new concerns about renewed emphasis on freight as opposed to passenger
rail transport and the threat to the next financial perspective
ceiling. We note also the Minister's expectation that this draft
Decision might not be carried forward. We support the Government
in pressing for additions to the list of priority projects to
be dependent on the fundamental review in 2004, rather than ad
hoc additions being made now.
2.10 The whole matter of the transport TEN and the
choice of projects under it remains of such great importance that
we recommend the document for debate in European Standing Committee
Official Report, European Standing Committee A, cols 3-28. Back
(23038) 15111/01; see HC 152-xx (2001-02), paragraph 16. Back
OJ L 228, 9.9.1996, p.1. Back