Connecting the TEN-T with EU neighbours
Publication date: 19 October 2004
The High Level Group, recently established by the European Commission to identify priority transport axes connecting the major trans-European axes with the different neighbouring regions, held its first meeting in Brussels on 18 and 19 October.
In addition to representatives of the EU presidency, the High Level Group includes representatives from Albania, Algeria, Armenia, Palestinian Authority, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Egypt, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya (as observer), Morocco, Moldova, Norway, Russia, Serbia & Montenegro, Kosovo (under UNMIK administration), Switzerland, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey and Ukraine. The European Investment Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank are invited as observers. Experts from the EU Member States as well as from Bulgaria and Romania also attended the first meeting. It is foreseen that the Group will submit a first report by the end of 2004 and complete its work in the autumn of 2005.
The aim for the new High Level Group is to make proposals to the Commission on how to connect better the Union with the neighbouring countries and regions. As financing transport investments remains a major problem worldwide, the Group is asked to look at innovative financing tools involving the private sector and user charging. Further the Group is expected to analyse and identify a number of horizontal priorities related to the improvement of co-operation, to technical and administrative harmonisation, to implementation of new technologies like interoperability and traffic management systems, as well as to measures on safety and security. In the absence of such measures bottlenecks will occur especially at the cross-border sections even if infrastructure works have been completed.
The Commission decided to establish this Group following evidence that existing transport connections between the enlarged EU and its neighbours hardly reflect the new geopolitical situation following the enlargement. Recent studies forecast that rapid growth in trade and freight transport will continue. By 2020, the volume of inter-regional land freight traffic is expected to grow by more than 100% for traffic between the EU and its neighbours.