Council of the EU — 2022-12-05
News from Brussels
Trans-European transport network (TEN-T): general approach
The Council agreed a negotiating mandate (‘general approach’) for the draft regulation on the EU guidelines for the development of a trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T).
The objective of the proposal is to build a reliable, seamless and high-quality trans-European transport network that ensures sustainable connectivity across the EU without physical interruptions, bottlenecks or missing links. The proposal aligns the development of the TEN-T network with the EU’s climate and sustainable development objectives by promoting multimodal transport, strengthening the resilience of the TEN-T network and improving the effectiveness of its governance tools. The text sets clear deadlines for the completion of the TEN-T network. The core network should be completed by 2030, the newly added extended core network by 2040 and the comprehensive network by 2050.
"Developing a good transport network across Europe is crucial. Not only for our citizens to move around fast and reliably, but also for our businesses to further develop and fully use the potential of internal market.", Martin Kupka, Czech minister of transport.
The revised legislation also pays special attention to a new governance structure for the TEN-T policy and multimodality by setting ambitious goals, in particular for the development of the railway infrastructure, which should help make railway transport more competitive on the transport market. In addition, the text of the general approach calls for gradual migration towards a standard European rail gauge on the TEN-T core and extended network.
In response to the impact of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, the revised rules also strive for better connectivity of Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova with the EU through the European Transport Corridors.
During the debate, ministers expressed unanimous support for the objectives and approach of the presidency’s proposal. They agreed that the suggested guidelines on the development of the trans-European transport network are a key instrument of the EU’s transport policy. Ministers underlined that this policy should encourage sustainable and more efficient transport of people and goods while also strengthening the EU’s economic, social and territorial cohesion. Despite their various ambitions, priorities and approaches, ministers confirmed their commitment to developing a coherent, connected and high-quality transport infrastructure across the EU.
Development of inland waterways (NAIADES III)
The Council approved conclusions on the ongoing development of inland waterway transport (NAIADES III programme).
Transport on inland waterways is a sustainable, energy-efficient, safe and less congested mode of transport that can play a significant role in the EU’s efforts to decarbonise the transport system. The Council conclusions therefore reconfirm the positive contribution of inland waterway transport and underline the need to fully develop its potential in a sustainable manner. Bearing in mind the strong impact of climate change on inland waterway transport, the sector needs measures to accelerate and stimulate fleet renewal, provide adequate infrastructure investments, increase its attractiveness for transport workers and help it keep up with digital developments. In this context, the Council conclusions encourage member states to prepare and implement long-term strategies and build on national support schemes to achieve the objectives of the NAIADES III Action Plan, as set out in the Commission communication of 25 June 2021, ‘NAIADES III: Boosting future-proof European inland waterway transport’.
Under any other business, the presidency and the Commission updated ministers on transport relations with Ukraine following the discussion at the Transport Council of 5 June 2022 on how best to coordinate the EU’s response to Russia’s war of aggression. Since that meeting, various actions have been carried out at European level. For example, ‘solidarity lanes’ have been set up to optimise supply chains and controls between Ukraine and the EU, to establish new transport routes and to avoid bottlenecks. Some 18m tonnes of grain and oilseeds have been exported from Ukraine via EU solidarity lanes since May. Moreover, an agreement to temporarily liberalise certain road freight operations between the EU and Ukraine and Moldova has been concluded. While fully supporting all the abovementioned initiatives and actions, ministers briefly discussed the various additional possibilities to remove obstacles and best implement the commitments to meet the challenges posed by the war in Ukraine.
The French, Belgian, Luxembourgish, Dutch and Portuguese delegations presented a joint paper on strengthening the sustainability and fairness of the aviation sector.
Furthermore, the Commission informed ministers on road safety trends and strengthened efforts to achieve road safety targets in view of the strong growth in the number of driver attestations for third-country drivers.
In addition to this, the Presidency informed ministers on the outcome of the ‘Connected, Cooperative and Automated Mobility’ (CCAM) states representative group meeting held in Prague on 29 November 2022.
The presidency also briefed ministers on the state of play of current legislative files:
The proposed decision on the implementation of the notification of offsetting requirements under the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) for aircraft operators established in the EU. Negotiations with the European Parliament have just concluded and the decision will be published soon
The proposed regulation on ensuring a level playing field for sustainable air transport (ReFuelEU aviation), on which negotiations with the European Parliament are well on track and may conclude at the upcoming trilogue on 8 December 2022
The proposed regulation for the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure (AFIR), on which a second trilogue with the European Parliament is scheduled for 13 December 2022
The proposed regulation on the use of renewable and low-carbon fuels in maritime transport (FuelEU Maritime initiative), on which negotiations with the European Parliament are ongoing, with a second trilogue scheduled for 8 December 2022
The Single European Sky ‘package’ (SES 2+), on which negotiations with the European Parliament are ongoing
The revision of the Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) directive, for which a first trilogue with the European Parliament is scheduled for 15 December 2022
The directive improving the stability requirements for ro-ro passenger ships, for which a first and, most probably, conclusive trilogue with the European Parliament is scheduled on 6 December 2022
As the last item, the incoming Swedish presidency presented its work programme for the first half of 2023.