COM (01) 370
COM (01) 544
Commission White Paper: European Transport Policy for 2010:
Time to Decide.
Draft Decision amending Decision No 1692/96/EC on Community guidelines for the development of the transEuropean transport network.
(b) Article 156 EC; co-decision; QMV
|Document originated:||(a) 12 September 2001
(b) 2 October 2001
|Forwarded to the Council:||(a) 14 September 2001
(b) 9 October 2001
|Deposited in Parliament:||(a) 28 September 2001
(b) 23 October 2001
|Department:||Transport, Local Government and the Regions
|Basis of consideration:||(a) EM of 31 October 2001
(b) EM of 2 November 2001
|Previous Committee Report:||None
|To be discussed in Council:||March 2002
|Committee's assessment:||Legally and politically important
|Committee's decision:||(Both) For debate in European Standing Committee A
2.1 The Commission's first White Paper on the future
development of the common transport policy was published in December
1992. The main principle of that document was that the European
transport market should be liberalised. This has largely been
achieved, with the general exception of rail.
2.2 Document (a) is the Commission's second White Paper
on transport. The overall thrust of the document is summarised
in the Explanatory Memorandum of 31 October 2001 from the Parliamentary
Under-Secretary of State (Mr David Jamieson). He tells us:
"The White Paper adopted by the Commission on 12 September
2001 sets out a comprehensive strategy aimed primarily at shifting
the balance of transport in Europe from road and aviation towards
rail, shipping and intermodal operations by 2010. It recognises,
in particular, the increasing problems of congestion on road and
rail routes, in towns and at airports and the harmful effects
of transport on the environment and public health and the heavy
toll of road accidents. The White Paper itself has no legislative
or executive force. The Commission proposes an integrated package
of some 60 Community measures some of which it has already published
in draft. The White Paper also outlines what the Commission believes
national and local governments should be doing themselves in the
transport field and in other areas such as urban and land-use
planning, budget and fiscal policy and competition policy."
2.3 According to the Commission, the common transport
policy has brought benefits to European citizens in the form of
lower prices, higher quality and more choice. Consequently, the
number of journeys, and with it personal mobility, has increased.
The Commission comments that the internal market makes it difficult
to accept distortions of competition in the area of transport
resulting from a lack of "fiscal and social harmonisation".
It identifies a number of problems:
- unequal growth in different modes of transport over the last
ten years with the highest growth in those modes of transport
that are closely associated with relatively high external costs
(e.g. road and air);
- congestion, which arises from a lack of capacity, especially
on main road and rail routes, in towns, and at airports;
- harmful effects on the environment and public health and a
very high number of fatalities and injuries caused by road accidents.
2.4 The Commission illustrates these problems statistically.
For example, in the EU 41,000 people are killed each year as a
result of road accidents. 10% of the road network is affected
by daily traffic jams; 20% of the rail network is classified as
bottlenecks; and 16 European airports record delays of 15 minutes
or more on 30% of their flights. These delays are estimated to
cause 6% of the annual consumption of fuel to be wasted. According
to the Commission, congestion also threatens EU competitiveness.
Road congestion, for example, is estimated to cost the equivalent
of 0.5% of Europe's GDP, and by 2010 the costs could increase
142% to reach _80 billion, or 1% of GDP.
2.5 The Commission comments that congestion is also caused
by a failure to complete the Trans-European Networks (TENs) infrastructure,
and that only 20% of the TENs projects in the existing Community
guidelines have been carried out.
This is considered to have especially disadvantaged peripheral
regions. The allocation for the TENs is about _500 million per
year, with the railways as the clear priority. However, against
this the Commission estimates that more than half of the funding
from the European Investment Bank and the Cohesion Fund has favoured
road over rail. The Commission illustrates the mismatch of Community
funding by reference to Greece and Ireland, which as two large
recipients of Community funds for transport projects have motorway
densities that are below the Community average.
2.6 The Commission predicts that on present trends heavy
goods vehicles in the EU will have increased by nearly 50% by
2010, compared with the 1998 level. As regards pollution, the
Commission comments that:
"According to the latest estimates, if nothing is done to
reverse the traffic growth trend, CO2 emissions from
transport can be expected to increase by around 50% to reach 1,113
billion tonnes in 2010, compared with the 739 million tonnes recorded
in 1990. Once again, road transport is the main culprit since
it alone accounts for 84% of the CO2 emissions attributable
2.7 Although the growth in the number of cars has stabilised
in EU Member States, the Commission is concerned by the expected
rapid growth in car ownership in candidate countries, which have
a relatively high dependency on rail.
2.8 The Commission identifies three possible options
for breaking the link between economic growth and transport growth
in the EU:
- option (A), which focusses on road transport through pricing
- option (B), which concentrates on road transport pricing methods,
but is accompanied by measures to increase the efficiency of the
other modes (better quality of services, logistics, technology).
- option (C), which comprises a series of measures ranging from
road transport pricing to revitalising alternative modes of transport
and targeted investment in the transEuropean network.
2.9 The Commission's preferred option, option C, is recognised
as being very ambitious in that it seeks to end the preferential
treatment given to road and to allow the market shares of modes
of transport to return to their 1998 levels:
"The White Paper proposes some 60 specific measures to be
taken at Community level under the transport policy. It includes
an action programme extending until 2010, with milestones along
the way, notably the monitoring exercises and the mid-term review
in 2005 to check whether the precise targets (for example, on
modal split or road safety) are being attained or whether adjustments
2.10 The Commission says that its detailed proposals
will be based on the following guidelines:
- Revitalising the railways;
- Improving quality in the road transport sector;
- Promoting transport by sea and inland waterway;
- Striking a balance between growth in air transport and the
- Turning intermodality into reality;
- Building the trans-European transport network;
- Adopting a policy on effective charging for transport;
- Recognising the rights and obligations of users;
- Developing high-quality urban transport;
- Putting research and technology at the service of clean, efficient
- Managing the effects of globalisation;
- Developing medium and long-term environmental objectives for
a sustainable transport system.
2.11 The White Paper groups the proposed measures into
four sections as follows:
- Shifting the balance between modes of transport;
- Putting users at the heart of transport policy;
- Managing the globalisation of transport.
2.12 Shifting the balance between modes of transport:
The Commission proposes that two priority objectives need to be
met before 2010, namely regulated competition between modes, and
a better link-up of different modes (successful intermodality).
In order to achieve these objectives, the Commission proposes
action aimed at improving the road sector, revitalising the railways,
controlling the growth in air transport, linking up modes of transport,
and helping to start up intermodal services.
2.13 Eliminating bottlenecks: The Minister tells
"The Commission plans to propose a two-stage revision of
the guidelines underpinning the trans-European network (TEN).
The first of these, adopted on 3 October 2001, concentrates on
eliminating bottlenecks, completing designated priority routes
and improving access to outlying regions. The Commission will
present a more extensive review of the TEN in 2004. In particular,
this will focus on encouraging 'sea motorways', developing airport
capacity, linking outlying regions with the centre and integrating
the networks of accession countries with those of EU countries.
The Commission also proposes action to address the problem of
limited public budgets for transport infrastructure projects."
2.14 Placing users at the heart of transport policy:
The Commission advocates that users should be put back at the
heart of transport policy and suggests action to reform infrastructure
charging legislation; develop proposals on fuel taxation; provide
easier intermodal travel for people; clarify the rights and obligations
of transport users; and rationalise urban transport.
2.15 International Regulation: The Commission
recognises that transport is increasingly regulated at an international
level and that the EU needs to rethink its role in international
2.16 Document (b) sets out the revisions to the existing
Community guidelines for the development of the TENs. The revisions
are necessary in light of the document (a). Document (b) concerns
the Community's transport priorities and sets out a list of specific
TENs projects. The Minister told us that the main changes to the
guidelines relate to measures to:
- achieve a rail freight network;
- achieve rail connections with ports that promote short sea
shipping and the use of inland waterways;
- promote integration between rail and air transport;
- adopt plans for the deployment of interoperable intelligent
- amend the list of priority projects, removing three completed
projects and adding six new projects;
- encourage strategic environmental assessment of future extensions
to the network;
- correct the maps to include missing links and to show technical
2.17 A further revision to the TEN Guidelines is scheduled
The Government's view
2.18 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 31 October 2001,
the Minister tells us:
"There is no doubt that there are major problems associated
with transport in Europe. And, it is helpful to have the Commission's
ideas on how these should be addressed The Commission is right
to say that some action is needed at each of the Community, national
and regional levels. The Government will consider each Commission
proposal carefully to ensure action is taken at the right level.
"It is not possible to specify here the implications of all
of the 60 or so suggestions made by the Commission. Before taking
a view on many of them it will be important to hear the views
of key stakeholders and a major consultation exercise will be
launched soon (see below). In some cases there is insufficient
information in the White Paper to make a sensible judgement and
it will be necessary to seek further information or await the
publication of the formal proposals. So, for the moment, comments
are confined to what are perceived to be the key issues.
"The modal split objective. The Commission's key target is
to ensure that by 2010 the share of the market held by each mode
other than road transport is returned to 1998 levels. This appears
somewhat arbitrary and the focus on delivering it seems excessive.
It would be preferable were it to be but one component of the
overall strategy because modal shift cannot on its own succeed
in tackling Europe's transport problems.
"Charging for the use of infrastructure. The Commission argues
that the failure of users of transport infrastructure always to
pay for the costs they generate impairs the functioning of the
single market and distorts competition within the transport system.
It suggests that existing methods should be gradually replaced
with more effective instruments for integrating infrastructure
costs and external costs (i.e. costs associated with accidents,
pollution, noise and congestion). It argues that Community legislation
is needed to provide a framework for infrastructure charging and
on taxation of fuel used for commercial haulage. However, tax
proposals require unanimous agreement among Member States, and
the Government is not convinced that it is necessary to act at
the European level in these respects as the Commission proposes.
The Government also believes that the proposals for a framework
directive on charging for the use of infrastructure and the suggestion
that any 'excess' revenues generated by charging full costs should
be used to finance measures to lessen or offset external costs
raise major issues of subsidiarity and proportionality. The Government
agrees that the existing 'Eurovignette' Directive (1999/62/EC)
needs to be updated. However, it is important that Member States
retain the right to choose whether or not to introduce charges
on their roads and, if so, at what level.
"Further rail liberalisation. The Government broadly supports
the Commission's plans to bring forward proposals later this year
to extend the liberalisation of rail freight from international
to national traffic, including cabotage, and of international
passenger services. The Government also supports in principle
the accompanying proposals for further harmonisation of rail systems
in terms of interoperability and safety regulations. However,
the proportionality of measures will need careful examination.
"Development of the transport transEuropean network.
The Commission has just adopted a proposal to revise the transport
TEN guidelines (Decision 1692/96/EC) and indicates that it will
propose a further revision in 2004. These revisions will concentrate
on removing bottlenecks, completing projects identified as priorities
for absorbing traffic generated by enlargement and improving access
to outlying areas. In parallel, the Commission will propose an
amendment to the TEN financial regulation (No 2236/95) to allow
the Community to contribute up to 20% of project costs
as opposed to the 10% currently allowed to support critical
but difficult to finance cross-border projects and projects to
clear bottlenecks on the borders with candidate countries. The
Government will need to look carefully at the Commission's formal
proposals for the transport TEN. It supports 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. The Government
also supports the emphasis on environmental assessment of future
extensions to the TEN, However, it has concerns about the Commission's
proposal to add 6 new priority projects. Of these, one, the Galileo
satellite project, has already reached an advanced stage of discussion
but the others are proposed in the White Paper for the first time.
There is insufficient evidence in the White Paper to demonstrate
that the other 5 projects are indeed Europe's top priorities.
The Government believes a rigorous costbenefit analysis
would be required.
"Road Safety. The Government fully endorses the importance
of reducing the number of deaths on Europe's roads although it
believes responsibility for the necessary measures to deliver
this objective should mainly be with national and local governments
and that therefore it should be for individual Member States and
local authorities to set the appropriate objective to their circumstances.
The Government also has doubts about some of the Commission's
road safety harmonisation proposals. The safety case for EU harmonisation
of road signs and signals seems weak. Furthermore, the Commission
has yet to provide a compelling argument for Community legislation
aimed at harmonising checks and penalties for speeding and drink
driving offences committed by commercial transport drivers on
the TEN. The Government will look hard at the justification of
road safety, employment and social measures in terms of EU competence,
subsidiarity and proportionality.
"Membership of international transport organisations. The
Commission suggests that the Community should seek full membership
of the main international transport organisations, in particular,
the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the International
Maritime Organisation (IMO). It also believes Member States should
accept the Community as negotiator of air transport agreements,
especially with the USA. The Government has serious reservations
about both the practicability and the desirability of some of
these proposals especially if the result might be to compromise
the status of the UK and other Member States in international
2.19 As regards document (b), the Minister tells us:
"The UK supports 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 support the emphasis on environmental
assessment of future extensions to the TEN.
"However, we have concerns about the Commission's proposal
to add six new priority projects. Of these, one, the Galileo satellite
project, has already reached an advanced stage of discussion but
the others are proposed in the document for the first time. There
is insufficient evidence to demonstrate that the other five projects
are indeed Europe's top priorities. Individual schemes must be
selected by rigorous value for money appraisal. 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 plans set out in the recent White
Paper to increase the amount of TEN support it can contribute
from 10% to 20% of project costs. More funds for these projects
will undoubtedly lead to a reduction in the amount of funding
available for UK projects."
2.20 The White Paper covers a wide range of issues.
We support the Commission in seeking to tackle serious transport
problems, such as congestion, safety, pollution and the unsustainability
of present trends. We have a number of comments.
2.21 First, while the Commission has outlined 60 measures
to support its strategy, we note that it is less forthcoming on
the specifics of many of its proposals and how these measures
will in practice translate into noticeable improvements in transport
conditions in the short to medium term.
2.22 Secondly, we have concerns about the appropriateness
of Community action in a number of areas. We recognise that the
Community has competence in some areas, such as in the selection
and funding of projects to develop the TENs and in those transport
sectors that relate to the single market, such as road haulage,
international railways, aviation, state aids (as in the case of
subsidies to airlines), and the promotion of environmentally-friendly
fuels. We also recognise the Community's interest in helping candidate
countries develop efficient and sustainable transport systems.
However, in other areas of transport policy, we have doubts about
the sufficiency of the Community interest. We note that the White
Paper calls for harmonisation of fuel taxation for commercial
users, particularly in road transport, and for external costs
to be included in the price of travel, which presumably would
require higher costs for road users and lower costs for rail users.
However, taxation proposals, including those relating to fuel,
require unanimity. The Minister notes that some other proposed
measures, such as infrastructure charging, controls and penalties
for the haulage industry, a review of fuel duty, rules and penalties
for offences on the TEN motorway network and signs and road markings
on the TEN also raise questions of subsidiarity. The Commission
suggests that it will be necessary fully to exploit the use of
qualified majority voting, where applicable, in the Council in
order to overcome the current delays which occur while Ministers
search for consensus. However, it remains unclear which policy
measures this would apply to that could have a substantial impact.
2.23 Thirdly, we note that the White Paper is timid
in challenging dependency on the motor car, especially in urban
areas. The document echoes longstanding views that the contribution
from other modes of transport need to be increased, but is light
on ways of reducing over-reliance on the car to a more sustainable
level without unduly inhibiting mobility. The problem at the heart
of the White Paper is that the Commission has very limited scope
to make a real difference to one of the main problems. The Commission
recognises that "the place of the car, improving the quality
of public services or the obligation to carry goods by rail instead
of road, are matters more for national or regional decisions than
for the Community."
2.24 Fourthly, the White Paper includes the horrific
statistic that on average in the EU 41,000 people are killed each
year as a result of road accidents. We support the White Paper's
objective of reducing by half the number of victims by 2010. The
Commission recognises that Member States are very reluctant to
take action at Community level, whether on seat belts for children
or in coaches or on harmonisation of the maximum permitted blood
alcohol levels, which they have been discussing for 12 years.
However, it adds that "Up until 2005 the Commission intends
to give priority to exchanges of good practice but it reserves
the right to propose legislation if there is no drop in the number
of accidents, all the more so since the figures are still high
in the candidate countries."
2.25 The White Paper also emphasises the importance
of better road safety in towns, including developing cycling as
a means of transport. However, its approach is not always rational.
For example, it calls for the installation of the European Train
Control System, which is very expensive. The costs of this system
seems to be disproportionately high relative to the small number
of lives likely to be saved, especially compared with what could
be achieved by investing the same resources in reducing road accidents,
especially in towns.
2.26 Fifthly, as regards the White Paper's goal of
a revitalisation of railways, we note that, despite the UK's experience
with rail privatisation, the Commission favours separating the
operation of services from infrastructure management, especially
in the candidate countries.
2.27 We note that the Transport Sub-Committee of the
Transport, Local Government and the Regions Committee has recently
taken evidence on the White Paper. We also note that the Government's
public consultations on the White Paper are nearly concluded.
2.28 We have decided to recommend both documents for
debate in European Standing Committee A. We further recommend
that both documents be debated together and that the debate be
held in good time before the March Council, when the documents
are likely to be discussed, but allowing sufficient time after
the closure of the Government's consultation period to allow the
Government to provide a full account of the results of its consultations.
LIST OF SPECIFIC PROJECTS
1. High-speed train/combined transport north-south:
Brenner axis: Napoli-Verona-Munich and Bologna-Milano
2. High-speed train PBCAL (Paris-Brussels-Cologne-Amsterdam-London):
Belgium: F/B border Brussels Liege B/D
Brussels B/NL border
United Kingdom: London Channel Tunnel Access
Netherlands: B/NL border Rotterdam Amsterdam
Germany: (Aachen) G27 Cologne Rhine/Main
3. High-speed train south:
4. High-speed train east
Paris Metz Strasbourg Appenweier
(Karlsruhe) with junction to Metz - Saarbrucken Mannheim
and Metz Luxembourg
5. Conventional rail/combined transport : Betuwe lime
Rotterdam NL/D border (Rhine/Ruhr)
6. High speed train/combined transport, France-Italy
Turin Milan Venice Trieste
7. Greek motorways: Pathe: Rio Antirio, Patras Athens
Thessaloniki Promahon (Greek/Bulgarian border)
and Via Egnatia: Igoumenitsa --- Thessaloniki Aleandroupolis
Ormenio (Greek/Bulgarian border) Kipi (Greek/Turkish
8. Multimodal Link Portugal Spain Central
12. Nordic Triangle (rail/road)
13. Ireland/United Kingdom/Benelux Road link
14. West Coast main line (rail)
15. Global navigation and positioning satellite system Galileo
16. High-capacity rail link across the Pyrenees
17. East European Combined Transport/High Speed Train :
18. Danube river improvement between Vilshofen and Straubing
19. High-speed rail interoperability on the Iberian peninsula
20. Fehmarn belt : fixed link between Germany and Denmark
The obvious areas are the opening of the road freight and air
transport sectors. Back
Examples given are Sparta, the high speed train from Brussels
to Marseille and the Oresund bridge linking Sweden and Denmark.
The document says that in too many cases the national sections
are delayed. Back
Opening up rail transport to regulated competition - which will
start properly in March 2003 when international goods services
on the 50,000-kilometre trans-European rail freight network are
opened up - is the central precondition for
revitalising the railways. Back
in areas of cleaner and safe road and marine transport. Back
The list of specific projects including the UK's West Coast main
line (rail), are set out in annex 1. Back
Responses to reach the Government by Thursday 31 January 2002
at the latest.