TRANS-EUROPEAN TRANSPORT NETWORKS:

OPTIONS FOR A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE

Summary of recommendations

 

 

Background

 

In December 2003 the Commission is expected to publish a proposal for a revision of the Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T).  A High-Level group, chaired by Karel Van Miert, is assisting the Commission with its preparatory work for this proposal and has been given the task of identifying new priority projects.  The High-Level group is expected to bring forward its report on the new priority projects in May.

 

Why is the revision of the TEN-T of importance to the environment?

 

The TEN-T has, in the past, created environmental problems eg. destruction of habitats and promotion of unsustainable forms of transport. However, Environmental NGOs believe that the next year’s revision of the TEN-T has the potential to improve transport sustainability in Europe considerably.  This can be achieved by ensuring that key principles such as ‘decoupling’, Strategic Environmental Assessment, cost-benefit analysis and environmental integration are placed at the heart of the revision process.

 

The revision of the TEN-T guidelines next year is particularly important as it will set the agenda for the extension of the TEN-T to the Accession Countries of Central and Eastern Europe.  These countries hold extensive natural habitats and rich biodiversity, the protection of which should be a top priority.

 

What are the concerns regarding the current development of the TEN-T?

 

NGO key concerns with regard to the current development of the TEN-T are:

·            The revision process has become dominated by various interests in the Member States.  NGOs are concerned that the key principles such as cost-benefit analysis, ‘decoupling’ and Strategic Environmental Assessment have been sidelined in the TEN-T process.  The development of the TEN-T has not therefore been consistent with the principles of sustainable development.

·            The focus has shifted away from the TEN-T priorities to pure investment objectives. The functioning of the single market was assumed to require additional infrastructure when the network was designed.  The assumption that increased infrastructure leads to increased economic growth is, however, seriously flawed. The current revision focuses on filling ‘missing links’ instead of rethinking the whole system.

·            Investment in the Accession Countries has focused on building new infrastructure rather than maintaining existing transport networks.  The TINA (Transport Infrastructure Needs Assessment) process has failed to maximise the potential of existing infrastructure in the Accession Countries.

 

 

 

·            TEN-T extension to the Accession Countries is likely to lead  to the destruction of habitats requiring protection under EC law.  The TINA network, which has been used as the basis for the extension of the TEN-T to the Accession Countries, could affect a number of sites requiring protection under the EC Birds and Habitats Directives, including the Biebrza marshes, which is one of the most important wildlife sites in Europe. No Strategic Environmental Assessment of the TINA network has been carried out.

 

What are the key recommendations for improvements to the TEN-T?

 

NGO key recommendations for improvements to the TEN-T revision process are:

·            Removal of separate TENs title from the Treaty. The TENs title should no longer constitute a Community investment priority.  It should be integrated into the wider Common Transport Policy, and observe the sustainability requirements of the Treaty.

·            A full Strategic Environmental Assessment of the whole network (TENs and TINA) must be carried out – coordinated by the Commission, with the full cooperation of the Member States.  This is vital to ensure that negative environmental impacts are minimised.

·            Local networks must be prioritised.  Local and regional transport systems should be maintained and improved, before national and EU funds are allocated to trans-national transport infrastructure.

·            Cost-benefit analysis must be improved.   The TEN-T revision should make consideration of the ‘zero’ option compulsory.  Improved methods of cost-benefit analysis must be developed.

·            Transport growth and GDP growth must be decoupled.  The Community’s Sixth Environmental Action Programme and the conclusions of the Gothenburg EU Council set as an objective the significant decoupling of transport growth from economic growth.  The TEN-T guidelines should refer to this objective.

·            Integrate the needs of the Natura 2000 network into the TEN-T.  No net loss should occur to the ecological integrity of the Natura 2000 network as a result of transport infrastructure developments.

·            The TEN-T guidelines revision must fully respect the provisions of the Water Framework Directive.  Attention should be paid especially to provisions concerning prevention of further deterioration of water quality and the achievement of good ecological and chemical status for all waters.

 

 

 

For further information, please contact:

 

T&E:

Nicoleta Ion (Programme Officer)

Tel: +32 2 5029909

nicoleta.ion@t-e.nu

BirdLife International:

Zoltan Waliczky (Accession Officer)

Tel: +44 (0) 1767 680551

Zoltan.Waliczky@rspb.org.uk

 

WWF

Ellen Townsend
(
Enlargement Policy Officer)
Tel: +32-2-740-0921
ETownsend@wwfepo.org

CEE Bankwatch Network/Friends of the Earth International

Magda Stoczkiewicz
(Accession project coordinator )
Tel: +31 20 622 13 69 magdas@foeeurope.org