Transport Cooperation between the EU and its Eastern Partners

Transport Action Plan
A Partnership priority
Spotlight: TRACECA the transport corridor
A panorama of regional transport projects
EuropeAid: Transport key to sustainable development
The EIB: facilitating transport
Useful links
A new Neighbourhood Transport Action Plan
The European Commission presented a new Neighbourhood Transport Action Plan to strengthen links with neighbouring regions to the East and South of the EU, on 7 July 2011. The plan proposes more than 20 concrete measures to make transport connections smoother, safer and more reliable. At the same time, it will deepen market integration to the advantage of both the EU and its neighbouring regions.
“If we are serious about a relationship with our neighbours we need to provide the infrastructure which is essential for flows of goods and people across borders and cut away the bureaucracy and bottlenecks," said Commission Vice-President responsible for Transport Siim Kallas.
For his part Commissioner Štefan Füle, responsible for Enlargement and the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) underlined the importance of integrated transport links: "This action plan proposes the concrete transport measures that we aim to put in place for the benefit of citizens and companies both in the neighbourhood and in Europe.''
Key measures for connecting the transport systems of the EU and its neighbours include:
  • Extending the EU's internal aviation market and Single European Sky to neighbouring regions;
  • Joining up the Trans-European Transport Network with infrastructure of the EU's neighbours through priority transport projects;
  • Making better use of rail freight potential by opening markets and by alleviating technical barriers such as differences in rail gauge sizes;
  • Streamlining the implementation of regional transport cooperation, by establishing an Eastern Partnership Transport Panel to oversee cooperation with neighbours to the east;
  • Making sea transport with neighbouring countries more efficient, including in the longer term, through their inclusion in the 'Blue Belt' of free maritime movement in and around Europe;
  • Helping neighbouring countries to improve road safety.
ENPI Info Centre news story:
A Partnership Priority
Moving in the same direction: transport cooperation in ENPI East
In the ENPI East region, tackling key transport challenges is identified as one of six priority sectors of cooperation. As a result, a number of regional co-operation initiatives between the EU and its eastern neighbours have been established. The EU supports regional transport cooperation initiatives to improve the efficiency, safety and security of transport operations and improve coordination, notably through the extension of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) and the TRACECA (Transport Corridor Europe Caucasus Asia) programme (see spotlight below).
Transport is also a priority of the Eastern Partnership (EaP), which was launched in 2009. One of the Eastern Partnership’s five flagship initiatives is the establishment of a southern energy corridor to diversify transit routes and sources of supply.
Actions on the ground reflect the priority given to transport considerations at the heart of EU policy, internally, in the neighbourhood and around the world. “The world is becoming increasingly global,” said Siim Kallas,Vice-President of the Commission, responsible for Transport in a speech in November 2010. “This is especially visible in the developments in transport. We in the EU are convinced that working towards cross-border and global solutions, as well as removing barriers, is beneficial for everybody.”
Spotlight: TRACECA the Transport Corridor
The EU has a long-standing commitment to addressing transport issues that affect the Neighbourhood countries. This is evident from the number of partnership and cooperation projects that have been established with the countries participating in the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and benefiting from its financial instrument managed by EuropeAid, the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI).
In the Eastern Partner countries, there is one major programme dealing with transport issues: TRACECA.
Traceca (Transport Corridor Europe-Caucasus-Asia) is an international transport cooperation programme between the EU and its partner countries in Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia. With a permanent secretariat in Azerbaijan, it covers the areas of maritime transport, aviation, road and rail, transport security, and transport infrastructure.
TRACECA seeks to achieve the following objectives:
  • Support the political and economic independence of the partner countries by enhancing their capacity to access European and world markets through alternative transport routes.
  • Encourage further regional co-operation among them.
  • Attract the support of International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and private investors.
  • Link the TRACECA route with the Trans-European Networks (TENs). 
The programme was launched in 1993 and aims to strengthen the progressive integration of the respective transport networks and markets in accordance with EU and international legal and regulatory frameworks. Enhanced regional co-operation in the transport sector is also of a paramount importance for achieving sustainable and economic and social development as well as contributing to peace, stability and prosperity in the region.
At the 2nd TRACECA Ministerial Conference, in 2006, a strategy was adopted that applies until 2015. Its main pillars are:
  • Strengthening and modernising the institutional and policy dimensions of transport;
  • Integrating and ensuring the cohesion and performance of infrastructure networks;
  • Developing of sound multi-modals chains (notably with the port modernisation and the motorways of the sea…);
  • Exploiting the full potential of air transport and boosting air passenger traffic;
  • Making the modes of transport in TRACECA area safer, secure and sustainable.

TRACECA Investment Forum

In October 2010, the first TRACECA Investment Forum was held in Brussels with the aim of helping to attract investment into transport infrastructure. It gathered representatives of the international donor community and transport ministers of TRACECA partner countries.
Among other initiatives, five road rehabilitations, four railway constructions and three port projects were presented to potential investors, of which nine succeeded in raising sufficient funds for their implementation. The second TRACECA Investment Forum, on 28 February 2012 in Brussels, will see a new raft of projects presented to the donors.
A panorama of regional transport projects
Cooperation is essential in tackling transport and infrastructure problems, which often require cross-border solutions and a regional approach. EuropeAid’s regional programmes in the east of the European Neighbourhood address challenges such asbetterconnections throughthe Black Sea and Caspian Sea, safer land transport andbringing Neighbours together to share best practice. Transport projects in the ENPI East Neighbourhood all come under the TRACECA programme umbrella (see spotlight). Below is a selection of some of the projects funded by EuropeAid:
Logistics Processes and Motorways of the Seas II
This project builds on three previous EU-funded TRACECA projects, namely: Motorways of the Seas (MoS) for Black Sea and Caspian Sea,  International Logistical Centres for Western NIS and Caucasus and International Logistical Centres for Central Asia. The project contributes to the long-term sustainable development of the logistics infrastructure and multimodal transport along the TRACECA corridor. It seeks to help devise and implement coherent strategies for creating intermodal integrated transport and logistics chains supported by Motorways of the Seas. 
Interview with Marc Abeille, Motorways of the Seas – Black Sea and Caspian Sea project
Land Transport Safety and Security
This project aims to improve transport safety and security in the Eastern neighbour countries and Central Asian TRACECA partner countries, in line with European standards in the field of land transport. It aims to improve land transport safety and security regulations by strengthening the administrative capacities of the national authorities charged with regulating the transport safety and security environments and improving the knowledge and skills of the individual staff. It also raises awareness of transport safety and security standards and regulations amongst the wider public.  Among other highlights, the project has helped elaborate a Regional Road Safety Action Plan in the TRACECA countries.
Maritime Safety – Black Sea and Caspian Sea
This project supports the development of common security management, maritime safety and ship pollution prevention for the Black Sea and Caspian Sea. It aims to assure safe and secure maritime links for passengers, crews, ships and cargoes; fosters higher standards of environmental safety at sea and in the relevant ports; contributes to creating a fully integrated multimodal transport corridor, and strives to provide transport customers with highly developed supply chains.  The project’s highlights include the development of the Regional Action Strategy on Maritime Safety and Security and Environmental Protection.
Interview with Leader Captain Fernando Pardo:

EuropeAid: Transport key to sustainable development
Good quality infrastructure is a key ingredient for sustainable development, as DG EuropeAid and Development Cooperation notes on the transport section of its website. It says: A significant proportion of Commission development funding is used to help partner countries improve their transport systems. Good quality roads, railways, ports and airports are essential for the smooth running of many key economic sectors in the developing world including agriculture, industry, mining and tourism. Efficient transport infrastructures can also improve the delivery of and access to vital social services, such as health and education.
The Commission aims to help partner countries improve transport as a means of achieving the broader goals of reducing poverty, sustaining economic growth and stimulating social development. There is no doubt that improved transport infrastructure will also help developing countries to integrate into the global economy.
To achieve its aims, the Commission works in partnership with country stakeholders and other aid donors. The goal is to make improvements that meet local needs in a safe, affordable and efficient way, and that has a minimal impact on the environment.
EuropeAid recalls that “in the Neighbourhood region, the Commission has created the Neighbourhood Investment Facility to support investment projects for infrastructures” in sectors including transport.
The EIB: facilitating transport
The European Investment Bank (EIB) supports the EU Neighbourhood Policy in the Eastern Partner Countries by financing projects of significant EU interest. The current €3.7bn mandate runs from 2007 to 2013 and covers Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and subject to future Council and European Parliament agreement,  Belarus. This mandate is for projects of significant interest to the EU, including ones in the field of transport.
To complement the mandate, the EIB set up in December 2009 the Eastern Partners Facility (EPF), a €1.5 bn facility under which financing will be extended at the EIB's own risk (i.e. without EC guarantee). 
In a fact sheet on the Eastern Neighbours, the EIB says the breakdown by sector signatures between 2007-2010 was €1.3bn, of which the biggest percentage, 27 %, went to transport projects.
ENPI Info Centre transport resources
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