Informele transportraad: behoefte aan mobiliteit en milieuvriendelijkheid in de toekomst (en)

Met dank overgenomen van Sloveens voorzitterschap Europese Unie 1e helft 2008, gepubliceerd op dinsdag 6 mei 2008.

Growing environmental, social and energy-related concerns in the face of increasing demand for transport services - this was the challenge chosen by the Presidency as the main focus of the informal meeting. The discussion revolved around two priority subjects in particular: completion of the Trans-European network and the greening of the transport sector. The aim of the discussion was to gather some first impressions concerning the European Commission's proposals in this area.

Council Chair and Slovenian Transport Minister Radovan Äerjav raised the issue of the effectiveness and fairness of available EU financial instruments - such as TEN-T, cohesion and structural funds - particularly in relation to the share of gross domestic product allocated to transport infrastructure in individual Member States. He emphasised the importance of energy efficiency, particularly in view of the EU's growing energy dependence and the need to lower greenhouse gas emissions. He highlighted the positive effects of the transport system, illustrating the potential advantages of developing sustainable transport, such as the planned Priority Projects 6 and European Transport Corridor V. Good transport links such as this play a key role in the growth of the European economy as increased trade flows demand efficient transport links. One such example could be the increased role of Mediterranean ports as the closest locations for transport flows from Asia.

Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot presented the current state of the European Transport Network and its 30 priority projects, as well as the remaining funding required to complete them. He explained that as of today one third of the priority projects have been completed, for a further third of them the necessary investments have been committed and for the last third completion is essentially scheduled for the deadline in 2020. Jacques Barrot insisted that the Member States have to keep up the momentum for completing the remaining sections, bearing in mind the importance of transnational corridors as a precondition for efficient and sustainable freight flows. Barrot also focused on the need to boost private investments through public-private parnerships that could benefit from the leverage effect of European funding, including TEN-T, regional funds and EIB loans. The Commissioner also outlined the Commission's new policy on "greening transport", including a revision of the Eurovignette directive on green and smart charging.

The participants agreed on the urgent need for environmental sustainability and energy efficiency as the basis for providing a sustainable environment for future generations.

Nonetheless, such actions still require an in-depth analysis of all possible side-effects, particularly regarding the competitiveness of the EU economy, the danger of unbalanced internalisation of external costs among individual countries, and the environmental implications of producing alternative energy sources. The discussion provided valuable new input for the Commission and reflected the Slovenian Presidency's ambition to place environmental and climate change issues at the forefront of this agenda.