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OPINION OF THECPMR (Approved by the CPMR General Assembly – 26/27 October 2006 – Murcia, Spain)
Mid-term review of the White Paper on European transport policy
1 - BACKGROUND Since the European Commission published the White Paper in September 2001, the CPMR and its geographical commissions have been actively working on the issue, and on the territorial aspects of EU transport policy in particular, under the coordination of Midi-Pyrénées Regional Council. It has been lobbying for various options in the framework of the TEN-T review and on how to develop motorways of the sea. It has also played an active role in the development of EU maritime safety instruments, of which there have recently been an increasing number. The European Commission has opened a consultation process focusing on ten key questions in three areas (shifting the balance between modes, the financial and economic situation of the transport sectors and priorities for the future). The CPMR’s response focuses on the latter, notably the TEN-T, motorways of the sea and maritime safety. This contribution broadly deals with the following two questions: -Which actions of the White Paper need to be reinforced? What are the new actions to be added? (point 8 of the questionnaire) ; -Which should be the priority actions between now and 2010? (point 9). As far as point 10 on maritime safety is concerned, the CPMR believes that remarkable progress has been made in the recent period, through the three Erika packages and the creation of the European Maritime Safety Agency. Proposals for improving EU policy will be made by the CPMR in the framework of the consultation which the European Commission will soon organise on the Union’s maritime policy (see below). Bearing the CPMR’s priorities in mind, three areas are given particular attention hereafter: -Contribution to the balanced development of EU territory, and consideration of the specific circumstances of regions which suffer from a lack of accessibility; -Improving the governance of EU transport policy and its instruments; -The financing of instruments promoted by the White Paper.
Opinion of the CPMR – Mid-term review of the White Paper on European transport policy: “CPMR response to the public consultation organised by the European Commission” - Reference:CRPMPPP060003 C0 – 26 October 2006– p. 1
The response to this consultation is just one stage in the CPMR’s transport agenda. During 2006, our organisation will develop additional proposals, notably in the following areas: -Integrated EU maritime policy: a contribution will be prepared after the European Commission publishes the Green Paper on EU maritime policy in the second half of 2006. Our analysis will evidently focus on transport and maritime safety issues. A preliminary paper will be discussed on 17 February 2006 at the Brest seminar, when 154 CPMR member regions will meet with Commissioner Borg; -Role of the regions in the European air transport industry: state aid for airport infrastructure, allotment of airport slots, the challenge posed by the rapid development of low-cost airlines, and, more broadly, the contribution air transport makes to regional development. The CPMR and its geographical commissions are starting to debate these issues. This will lead to proposals of a political nature, which will be made public at a European seminar in Toulouse in November 2006.
2.1. The TEN-T and territorial balance In early 2004, further to intense consultation of its member regions, the CPMR called for the inclusion of two extra projects in the list of 30 priority projects (connection of the Swedish and Finnish rail networks between Boden and Haparanda, and extension of the high-speed railway line from Paris to Brittany and Pays de la Loire). These projects were not included in the guidelines adopted by the Council and Parliament in April 2004, and they continue to be topical issues. Inclusion of projects in the TEN-T is only of theoretical interest if there is no EU funding (see below). This is particularly the case for the sections of the 30 priority projects which are not on the quick-start list published by the Commission in November 2003. The CPMR’s Atlantic Arc Commission has for example highlighted uncertainties about the construction schedules of the following priority projects: -n° 3 (High-speed railway lines of south-west Europe), of which only a short section on the Spanish/Portuguese border is included in the quick-start list; -n° 16 (Freight railway line Sines/Algeciras–Madrid–Paris), for which no section is included on this list. There is a general issue concerning the selection criteria used for selecting priority projects, above and beyond the horse-trading between member states. We stress that Article 129B of the Maastricht Treaty states that the TEN-T must respond to the “the need to link island, landlocked and peripheral regions with the central regions of the Community.” In reality, TEN-T funds are allocated using criteria which do not give priority to cohesion or territorial balance. Priority is given to improving transport flows and reducing bottlenecks, particularly in cross-border areas in order to ensure optimal efficiency of the single market.
Priorities for the future The TEN-T were drawn up in 1996 and revised eight years later in 2004. Some changes were made during this period, including the introduction of ports. The Commission could provide details about the likely timetable for future partial or total revisions. In any case, a relatively short-term revision seems necessary in order to take account of work currently underway regarding their extension to neighbouring countries. Such a revision could be exploited in order to “go back to the drawing board” regarding the 30 current priority projects. The following points should be included in such an exercise: -Consideration of accessibility criteria and territorial balance; -Updating of the quick-start list;
Opinion of the CPMR – Mid-term review of the White Paper on European transport policy: “CPMR response to the public consultation organised by the European Commission” - Reference:CRPMPPP060003 C0 – 26 October 2006– p. 2
-Specification of details concerning the respective inputs from different EU funds: ERDF and Cohesion Fund finance should be included in the overall scheme of EU funding for transport infrastructure. It must become clear that there is a single European network which is financed by different sources. Various studies on accessibility issues have been carried out at European level (notably project 211 on the territorial impact of EU transport and TEN policies run by the European Spatial Planning Observation Network, ESPON). They should be of useful help to DG TREN when it is conducting this exercise.
2.2. The TEN-T and governance
Current TEN-T governance is not satisfactory for regional authorities, because decisions on priority infrastructure projects are ultimately taken by transport ministries and the European Parliament. It is not logical for the regions, as is right, to be fully involved in taking decisions on ERDF funding allocated to transport infrastructure on the one hand, but totally excluded from drawing up the TEN-T on the other hand.
Priorities for the future
The fundamental issue of regions’ involvement in making choices no doubt exceeds the formal framework of the mid-term review of the White Paper, but it should be dealt with rapidly, notably in the run-up to the next revision of the TEN-T. The issue furthermore comes under the work programme which the European Commission has set itself for 2006, because it concerns the improvement of the governance of its policies. As far as the development of the TEN-T is concerned, the Commission is opportunely introducing arrangements for European coordinators, six of whom have already been appointed. It is vital that these people be asked, as one of their priority tasks, to meet the regions concerned, which furthermore often participate in co-funding.
2.3. TEN-T and funding
DG TREN rightly stresses in its papers the considerable gap which exists between the total cost of achieving the thirty priority projects and the available budget. For the TEN-T budget alone, the Commission was hoping to reduce this gap by proposing to increase the budget from €4.17bn for 2000-2006 to €20.35bn for 2007-2013. The compromise resulting from the European summit in December will make this objective impossible to achieve, because subheading 1a for competitiveness, which is notably divided between the TEN-T and the R&D Framework Programme (FP7), would be reduced by about 40% in comparison to the Commission’s proposal. Bearing in mind the vital importance of FP7 for the success of the Lisbon strategy, the outcome of negotiations between Parliament and the Council regarding how subheading 1a is used should ultimately lead to a TEN-T budget which is a fait bit lower that the expected €20bn. Even though cuts to the cohesion budget (subheading 1b) are less drastic, they will also affect EU funding for transport infrastructure (ERDF Objectives 1 and 2 and the Cohesion Fund).
Priorities for the future
It would be presumptuous of the CPMR at this stage to propose a miracle solution to the infrastructure funding issue. It is clearly one of the key problems of the forthcoming period, especially for poorly-accessible regions. Innovative and/or ambitious proposals such as public-private partnerships and the introduction of a European loan facility, which the EIB might be able to contribute to, would merit debate. In this perspective, priority should be given to attaching an appropriate degree of importance to cohesion and accessibility criteria when programming sections along the 30 priority routes.It would furthermore be right to push more for differentiation in the intensity of EU support (co-funding rates), in accordance with the degree of priority attached to given sections. This would necessitate a revision of the TEN-T’s financial regulation which would not be limited to offering higher rates of co-funding just for cross-border projects.
Opinion of the CPMR – Mid-term review of the White Paper on European transport policy: “CPMR response to the public consultation organised by the European Commission” - Reference:CRPMPPP060003 C0 – 26 October 2006– p. 3
ERDF support applies different rates of intensity depending on the areas concerned, and regional aid is also managed on a differentiated basis: so it should be possible to do the same for the TEN-T. The CPMR is willing to provide technical support in this area, as it did recently when regional aid rules were revised. This was an acknowledged success in terms of territorial fairness.
We are participating in the mid-term assessment of the White Paper. We should therefore assess progress being made regarding one of its flagship projects, motorways of the sea, which the regions have welcomed enthusiastically. Four years after the White Paper was published, we must unfortunately and collectively recognise that it has been a failure, or at least that there has been a major delay. It is no doubt the White Paper measure with which the CPMR member regions have the biggest degree of frustration. However, it is also a measure which should be easy to implement. It is relatively low-cost, and above all needs a good partnership at all levels, good governance and collective intelligence: all virtues which are accessible to European stakeholders. The CPMR will present its ideas on the introduction of motorways of the sea at the meeting of maritime experts from its geographical commissions in Seville on 15 May 2006.
3.1 – Motorways of the sea and territorial balance As a reminder, the CPMR has two demands, which were not included in Article 12a of the Community Guidelines on the Development of the TEN-T adopted in April 2004 (the article introducing motorways of the sea in the TEN-T): -The possibility of developing motorways of the sea between member states and third countries, which was an Islands Commission proposal; -At the request of the North Sea and Baltic Commissions, replacement of the western Europe motorway of the sea by two of them: one for the Atlantic basin and the other for the North Sea. The latter could be developed with support from the Northern Maritime Corridor, a current cooperation project supported by Interreg IIIB. This latter demand might seem rather redundant and could be deemed to be “inflationist”, insofar as the current map of motorways of the sea, with its four main routes, is only indicative in nature. However, this would not be the case at all if, as the CPMR is requesting below, each sea motorway is allocated a European coordinator to act as facilitator and progress-chaser for its operational development. It would furthermore be appropriate to examine the possibility of introducing a positive discrimination system to promote motorways of the sea in sea basins where the market alone is insufficient for making maritime routes with regular and frequent crossings between two ports profitable. The uniform application of TEN-T (for infrastructure) and Marco Polo (for start-up aids) financial instruments at territorial level has no sense. The CPMR is pleased that the vademecum published in February 2005 by DG TREN clearly includes references to cohesion and accessibility in the evaluation criteria for projects eligible for sea motorway support. But there should be even more discussion about this, without which EU policy on motorways of the sea, which is very innovative and welcome, would run the risk of widening interregional disparities concerning access to maritime transport. The Commission and the Member States would face: -in certain areas, the problem of having to choose between competing projects, all of which are economically viable, even without EU support: therefore where would the community added value be? -in other areas, a lack of viable projects, within the restrictive limits proposed for EU funding, and in particular the length and rate of co-funding through Marco Polo for start-up aids. In the paper accompanying the public consultation on the review of the White Paper, the Commission sets out a comparative analysis of trends in the use of different modes of transport since 2001. It highlights the Opinion of the CPMR – Mid-term review of the White Paper on European transport policy: “CPMR response to the public consultation organised by the European Commission” - Reference:CRPMPPP060003 C0 – 26 October 2006– p. 4
generally strong growth of maritime transport during this period. This might have been a cause for satisfaction among maritime regions if there had been the same rate of growth for all sea basins, but this is far from being the case. More in-depth studies in fact demonstrate wide disparities between the different areas, and there is notably a relative decline in the Atlantic area. It is a shame that the Commission draws on such incomplete and unsuitable statistics for such an important an exercise as the mid-term review of the White Paper. Because the situations are so different from one area to another, it would be inconceivable to launch a new EU instrument without reorganising financial support to make it possible to adapt to different territories’ circumstances.
Priorities for the future When the next review of the TEN-T takes place, even if it is only a partial one,the map of motorways of the sea should be reviewed, on the basis of five as opposed to four, by identifying an Atlantic sea motorway and a North Sea motorway. In keeping with its anticipatory role, it is desirable that the European Commission should study and envisage aid systems that, rather than being horizontal, are “sophisticated” in accordance with territorial and geo-economic characteristics. The CPMR can provide its support for this exercise. Here again, use of ESPON would be useful. The issue of the role of ultraperipheral regions in motorways of the sea must be covered by a specific study. Unless the instrument is adapted to such territories, they will be excluded from motorways of the sea. Lastly, motorways of the sea are not the only issue at stake in the debate on EU support for short and medium-distance maritime transport. The reality of a “massive” modal shift from roads to the sea means that other aspects should be examined, including, and among others: -micro short-sea shipping; -feedering and, more generally, all means of developing a critical mass of flows, notably towards ports integrated within the sea motorway network. In the debate on the Green Paper on maritime policy, the CPMR will try to provide some proposals on a multifaceted EU policy for encouraging the modal shift to maritime transport.
3.2 - ADM and governance
We believe that the development of motorways of the sea has got off to a bad start because it is caught up in an institutional debate which is restricted to the member states and the Commission. However, as the Commission’s discussion paper of July 2004 (Motorways of the Sea – Implementation) so opportunely stresses, the regions were the first to make concrete proposals regarding the sea motorway concept at seminars in Klaipeda, Bordeaux and Algeciras. It is therefore unacceptable for them not be involved in the development of motorways of the sea. This fact is in line with the Commission’s own philosophy, as set out in the consultation paper of July 2004 (broad and coordinated approach, point 10). Organisations representing the regions in each sea basin must participate in these debates, if necessary with support from the Interreg programme and then the future territorial cooperation objective for 2007-2013, which is likely to have a significant emphasis on maritime cooperation: co-funding of feasibility studies, development of a critical mass of flows necessary to ensure they are concentrated in ports selected as departure ports for motorways of the sea, and logistics. The idea of having coordinators for priority routes, which was introduced when the TEN-T were revised in 2004 (Article 17a of the revised Community Guidelines) is welcome. Motorways of the sea, as a new concept, are difficult to develop, if only because member states in different areas have such varied ideas about them (for the Atlantic area for example, there is a fairly interventionist French tradition and a more free-market
Opinion of the CPMR – Mid-term review of the White Paper on European transport policy: “CPMR response to the public consultation organised by the European Commission” - Reference:CRPMPPP060003 C0 – 26 October 2006– p. 5
Spanish approach). These different approaches are legitimate in a Europe based on diversity, but they also justify the need for catalysts, a role which could be adopted by the coordinators. Mirroring the remarkable work carried out by Loyola de Palacio on the extension of the TEN-T to neighbouring countries, they can play a decisive role in ensuring smooth coordination and mobilisation of public funding from different sources: EU (ERDF Objectives 1, 2 and 3, the Cohesion Fund, Marco Polo, national, regional and local funding). Following the appointment of the six TEN-T coordinators for rail projects, the CPMR reminded Commissioner Barrot about the urgency of appointing one sea motorway coordinator per sea basin.
Priorities for the future
Appointment of coordinators for each sea basin
Organisation of a consultation exercise between member states and regions in each sea basin
It is not enough, as Article 12a of the revised Community Guidelines proposes, to put member states into competition with one another, in whatever form that may take. The vital thing is not to adopt transparent competition procedures, but rather to organise relevant consultations on the key issues, before setting up formal arrangements. We call on the Commission to take the initiative, with support from the future sea motorway coordinators.
Involving the regions in policy design and delivery Fundamentally, in the next revision of the TEN-T guidelines, point 4 of Article 12a should be changed in order to involve the regions in developing tendering procedures prior to the selection of maritime routes eligible to be motorways of the sea. Before it takes a decision, the Commission should not only obtain the member states’ opinion (in the TEN-T committee), but also that of the regions, in accordance with a procedure to be thought out. In the very short term, as from 2006 or in 2007 at the latest, the text on annual calls for projects issued by DG TREN should be changed in order to develop TEN-T projects of common interest. These calls for projects include motorways of the sea since 2005. The 2005 call for projects only allowed the following to apply: - member states, - public or private bodies in agreement with the member states, - international organisations of which the member states are members. The CPMR calls for a logical end to this “obligatory sponsorship” by member states, in line with what has happened for many other EU programmes.
3.3 – Motorways of the sea and funding
Clarity of deployable European funding
In the position it adopted on the revision of the TEN-T in early 2004, the CPMR called for the guidelines to formally include a provision clarifying state aid arrangements: “The Commission shall publish a clear framework for financial intervention, annexed to the Community guidelines, which shall state the type of expenditure eligible in terms of equipment, infrastructure and start-up aid, and the procedures for intervention by the various sources of Community funding, namely the TEN budget, the ERDF and the Cohesion Fund.” This request was not taken on board by the Council and Parliament, but the CPMR is pleased that the Commission followed it up by publishing a clear table, which is appended to the vademecum on motorways of the sea of February 2005.
Opinion of the CPMR – Mid-term review of the White Paper on European transport policy: “CPMR response to the public consultation organised by the European Commission” - Reference:CRPMPPP060003 C0 – 26 October 2006– p. 6
Available budget Concerning transport policy instruments alone: -doubts regarding the amount available for the TEN-T and therefore sea motorway infrastructure funding were outlined above; -similar doubts exist about Marco Polo funding. The Commission was proposing to allocate €740m to this programme, of which €287m would be devoted to motorways of the sea, making it possible to fund 38 projects between 2007 and 2013. Aside from the amount of funding available, regions which have tried to become involved in Marco Polo programme consider it to be over-complex from an administrative point of view, bearing in mind the insufficient levels of aid. Lastly, it is appropriate to mention the contribution which the future European infrastructure charging system could make to motorways of the sea. At this stage, pending the forthcoming adoption of the modified Eurovignette Directive, cross-financing possibilities between modes have still not been specified.
Priorities for the future
In a context of inter-mode competition for access to TEN-T and Marco Polo funding, it is essential to be attentive to ensure that motorways of the sea are accorded a real degree of priority when it comes to the allocation of funds. They are low-cost and will be decisive for ensuring a successful modal shift and for promoting the development of sustainable transport in line with the Gothenburg strategy. Access to the Marco Polo programme should be simplified, particularly to facilitate the selection of bids from groups of regional and local authorities. Arrangements for enforcing the Eurovignette Directive should be examined with a view to facilitating cross-financing between road transport and maritime transport.
Opinion of the CPMR – Mid-term review of the White Paper on European transport policy: “CPMR response to the public consultation organised by the European Commission” - Reference:CRPMPPP060003 C0 – 26 October 2006– p. 7
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