Development of a Euro-Mediterranean transport network24 August 2009
by inadim -- last modified 25 August 2009
The European Union aims to promote cooperation with the countries of the southern Mediterranean in order to improve transport infrastructure and to make the public and private players concerned aware of EU initiatives.
The communication examines the economic, political and financial aspects of developing the Euro-Mediterranean transport network. The aim is to define the challenges and features of the network while underlining concerns about safety, security and funding in the run-up to the enlargement of the European Union (EU).
Transport flows between the two shores of the Mediterranean are very dense, and the EU is the main maritime and air partner for a large number of Mediterranean partners, in particular the Maghreb. At the same time, new needs and constraints have come to the fore in relation to tourism, safety and security concerns, and international terrorism.
Planning the network and identifying the priority infrastructure projects
Network planning and identification of priority projects have got under way through the MEDA programme.
Priority infrastructure projects need to be identified, and agreement to the resulting list of priority projects needs to be obtained from the Euro-Mediterranean transport Ministers. To that end, the Commission advocates an approach based on corridors to enable priorities to be set in the right order.
For instance, two multimodal corridors are likely to promote regional integration, namely:
- The trans-Maghreb multimodal corridor: a rail and motorway network will serve to link the main cities of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.
- The double corridor of the eastern Mediterranean: the corridor starts in Bulgaria, crosses Turkey and then divides into two branches, one running along the coast to Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Egypt and the other through the Syrian and Jordanian plateaux.
Incorporating common transport policy objectives
- Short sea shipping: there is a great need for the creation of motorways of the sea connecting the corridors and shorelines of the Member States and their immediate neighbours. The Mediterranean basin is a priority area for the development of motorways of the sea.
The intermodality of short sea shipping may also be enhanced by participation in the pilot projects of the Marco Polo programme.
- Maritime transport: the aim is to prevent the sea-borne transport of oil in the Mediterranean from creating another Erika or Prestige incident in a closed and ecologically fragile sea. The new proposals contained in the Erika I and II packages need to be extended to cover the Euro-Mediterranean area. The main prevention measures in this respect will be concentrated in a new regional project in the framework of the MEDA programme.
- Air transport: air transport has a very important role to play, due particularly to tourism and the mobility of immigrant populations. The aim is to increase airport capacity, and to integrate air traffic management systems with a view to creating the Single European Sky. These efforts may be supplemented by the conclusion of Open sky agreements between the EU and interested Mediterranean partners and by participation in the European Aviation Safety Agency.
- Rail transport: the aim is to develop the rail network so as to facilitate South-South trade, improve interoperability and reduce CO2 emissions.
- Galileo: the Galileo project, which will become operational in 2008, could use the European satellite navigation system to provide better protection for the Mediterranean and make it safer. The aim is to involve the Mediterranean partners and their businesses in the project, subject to a capital stakeholding in the Galileo Joint Undertaking.
- Research programmes: inclusion of the Mediterranean partners in the 6th framework programme of research, especially the Aeronautics and space and Sustainable Surface Development priorities, in order to help improve the safety and security of the Euro-Mediterranean transport network.
Funding the network
The main problem is private investment. Public funding, including EU investment, will continue to play an important part in relation to infrastructure. In this respect, the communication recommends the use of public-private partnerships and suggests that an independent agency might be set up to promote the network and examine the financial arrangements of the major infrastructure projects.
Also, the European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) have worked together to set up the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP) within the EIB.
Source: Summaries of EU Legislation