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Document 22015P0923(02)

Resolution on infrastructural cooperation between the EU and Eastern Partnership countries: joint road, rail and air transport projects

OJ C 315, 23.9.2015, p. 7–10 (BG, ES, CS, DA, DE, ET, EL, EN, FR, HR, IT, LV, LT, HU, MT, NL, PL, PT, RO, SK, SL, FI, SV)

23.9.2015   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 315/7


RESOLUTION (1)

on infrastructural cooperation between the EU and Eastern Partnership countries: joint road, rail and air transport projects

(2015/C 315/02)

THE EURONEST PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY,

having regard to the European Parliament resolution of 23 October 2013 on the European Neighbourhood Policy: towards a strengthening of the partnership. Position of the European Parliament on the 2012 reports,

having regard to the European Parliament resolutions on the review of the European Neighbourhood Policy and its eastern dimension, and to those on the Republic of Armenia, the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Republic of Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine,

having regard to the Joint Declaration of the Eastern Partnership Summit (Vilnius, 28-29 November 2013) — Eastern Partnership: the way ahead,

having regard to the communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament, entitled ‘The EU and its neighbouring regions: A renewed approach to transport cooperation’ (COM(2011) 415) and the Commission’s European Union Neighbourhood Transport Plan, which covers the aviation sector, maritime and inland waterway transport, road and rail transport, and infrastructure connections,

having regard to the Joint Declaration on the Future of Eastern Partnership transport cooperation by the ministers responsible for transport of the EU Member States and partner countries of the Eastern Partnership and representatives of the European Commission,

having regard to the Council conclusions on transport cooperation with the EU’s neighbouring regions, adopted at the 3 116th Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council meeting,

having regard to the European Commission’s 2011 White Paper entitled ‘Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area — Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system’,

having regard to the list of priority infrastructure projects on the Eastern Partnership regional transport network, endorsed at the meeting of EU and Eastern Partnership Transport Ministers on 9 October 2013 in Luxembourg,

having regard to the signature of the Association Agreements between the EU and Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia respectively,

having regard to the efficiency of sea and river navigation as systems to move goods, to connect people and to develop better market integration,

1.

Stresses the fact that transport is vital to Europe’s prosperity as it enables goods to be distributed efficiently and citizens to travel freely; recalls that the EU is a major political and economic partner of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries and that strengthened cooperation in the transport sector could significantly help these countries to become economically stronger and politically more stable; points out that citizens and businesses in the EU and in neighbouring regions are the direct beneficiaries of improved transport cooperation, which aims to reduce the time and resources spent on transportation of goods, services and passengers, and that closer market integration can also help to open up new market opportunities for businesses in both the EU and its neighbouring regions;

2.

Considers that better transport connections can be achieved through improved transport infrastructure and through closer market integration, ensuring smooth travel for passengers and efficient and secure transport of goods, taking into account the specific geographical situation of the EaP countries; hopes, in this regard, that a visible link will be made between the transport policy in the EaP countries and the Europe 2020 strategy;

3.

Underlines that closer integration between the transport markets of the EU and its Eastern Partners depends on each country’s will and readiness in this regard, and is conditional on neighbouring countries’ progress in applying standards that are equivalent to those of the EU in areas such as safety, security, the environment and social matters; calls on the EU to provide all necessary technical support and advice, and not to resort to protectionism;

4.

Stresses that large divergences in terms of transport infrastructure remain between the eastern and western parts of Europe, and need to be tackled, and that the European continent needs to be more homogeneous in terms of transport infrastructure;

5.

Recalls that congestion is a major concern, particularly in road and air transport; underlines the need to address the considerable bottlenecks in European transport, with the aim of meeting citizens’ demands to travel and the economy’s need to transport goods and services, while anticipating resource and environmental constraints;

6.

Acknowledges the adoption of the new TEN-T guidelines, shaping the core and comprehensive network of strategic European infrastructure in the eastern and western parts of the European Union, and thus shaping the Single European Transport Area; calls on the European Commission to reflect on the possibility of connecting the TEN-T core network to the transport network in the EaP countries;

7.

Calls on the Commission to undertake and publish, jointly with the governments of the Eastern Partners, a joint assessment study on the transport infrastructure, hubs and links of mutual interest that could establish a comprehensive basis for future joint projects;

8.

Takes note of the increased pressure on public resources for infrastructure funding; stresses that a new approach to funding and pricing is needed, based on public and private partnerships, which would enable local communities to partner with interested private actors and government agencies, and to make use of international funds to create transport means which would benefit all parties involved; urges the EU Member States and the EaP countries to exchange best experience and intensify cooperation in this field;

9.

Recognises the importance of further improving the investment environment in EaP countries in order to attract investments from the EU Member States in the road, rail, maritime and air transport sectors that will support the development of respective infrastructure, the integration of EaP countries and EU Member States, the adoption of EU standards and capacity development in the EaP countries;

10.

Calls on the Commission and the governments of the Eastern Partners to include the principle of ease of transport in future trade agreements;

11.

Underlines that transport sector reforms in EaP countries should ensure greater approximation to EU transport standards; considers that negotiations on air services agreements between the EU and the EaP countries should be concluded with those countries that have started them, and, in this regard, hopes for the early start of similar negotiations with the rest of the EaP countries; believes that maritime safety and security should be improved through policy reform, that flags should be improved in accordance with the Paris Memorandum on Port State Control, and that the partner countries should be able to demonstrate improved track records in road safety and that they are taking concrete steps to improve rail interoperability with the EU; considers that transport links with the EU should be improved through better planning of networks and work on priority infrastructure projects that help to connect the partner countries with the trans-European transport network; encourages the partner countries to rehabilitate existing roads and construct new ones;

12.

Takes note of the existence of closed borders within the Eastern Partnership territory, as well as of the communication difficulties for those countries which do not have direct access to seas, and calls, in this regard, on the EU to contribute to more open and accessible ways of communication via implementation of tangible projects;

13.

Stresses that the Single European Sky, currently under construction, should also be extended to include the EU’s neighbours — the recognition of EU law and the principle of ‘EU designation’ is a minimum precondition for this; points out that the Single European Sky aims to improve safety and reduce delays, costs and emissions and that as part of the gradual approach to establishing a Single European Sky, the EU’s neighbouring countries are willing to form or join functional airspace blocks (FABs) with EU Member States; calls on the EaP countries to contribute to the smooth operation of air communications both between EU and EaP countries, and within Eastern Partnership territory;

14.

Recalls that road transport plays a key role in trade flows with those EaP countries with which the EU shares a land border; points out, however, that cumbersome administrative procedures at border crossings remain an obstacle to the efficient flow of goods between the EU and its neighbours in the east, and on average, 40 % of total transportation time is lost at the borders owing to discrepancies in administrative procedures; stresses that facilitation of border-crossing procedures is therefore of key importance in stimulating trade by cutting time and costs and that sharing experience of successful reforms in this field would be beneficial for the EaP countries;

15.

Draws attention to the fact that mortality due to road traffic injuries is considerably higher in most EaP countries than on average in the EU, and therefore the low level of road safety in the EaP countries is an issue of direct concern for the EU; stresses that improvement of road safety through training, sharing of best practices, awareness raising and promoting safer road infrastructure, including secure parking, constitutes a priority for the EU’s cooperation and financial assistance with the neighbouring regions; encourages the European Commission to investigate the possibility of extending common EU-wide intelligent transport systems services to the EaP countries;

16.

Is pleased to note that several EaP countries have expressed interest in increased road market access with the EU and considers that the EU should exercise its external competence in this field with a view to further market integration with these countries; calls, in this regard, on the Commission to closely monitor the partner countries to make certain that they implement and apply the relevant safety, security, environmental and social standards, and to ensure that Member States do not resort to protectionist measures; considers that the main objective of such an initiative should be to gradually remove quantitative restrictions in exchange for the implementation of standards that guarantee the quality of road transport services between the EU and the EaP countries, which is a concept not included in the current bilateral regimes;

17.

Stresses that open, fair, non-discriminatory, transparent and efficient charging systems for the use of railway infrastructure along the corridors between the EU, its Eastern neighbours, the Middle East and Asia are necessary to exploit the full potential of rail freight traffic (including rehabilitation of existing railroads and construction of new, more efficient ones); encourages regional cooperation on this issue and notes with dismay that physical barriers to trade and freight growth also include the lack of interoperable rail systems, insufficient technology and rolling stock in poor condition; points out that efficiency of passenger transport by rail can be increased through better cooperation on border crossings, without requiring considerable infrastructure investments;

18.

Encourages the promotion of low carbon vehicles and alternative fuel infrastructure in order to decrease fossil fuel consumption and thereby lower the impact of transport on the environment;

19.

Stresses that reforms which seek to bring the rail sector of the EaP countries closer to the EU’s standards (safety, security, environmental, social and interoperability) should continue, as this would not only benefit passenger and freight transport, but would also attract more investment in the rail sector; points out that high demand for rolling stock modernisation in neighbouring countries creates new market opportunities for EU companies; emphasises that the abovementioned reforms are also a precondition for any market opening in the future;

20.

Urges the EU to assist in achieving compliance through the sharing of information on developing national civil aviation security programmes and the sharing of best practices in the implementation and quality control of aviation security measures; stresses that the international standards in aviation security laid down by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) should be fully implemented, and points out that regulatory convergence in the region, over and above international standards, could be facilitated by improving knowledge and implementation of the aviation security provisions of the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) and the principles laid down in the EU’s primary legislation;

21.

Points out that the EaP countries should also be the future beneficiaries under the Single European Sky air traffic management research programme (SESAR), which aims to modernise the air traffic control infrastructure in Europe, and that greater assistance from the EU to EaP countries that are seeking to modernise their air traffic management systems would be very welcome.

22.

Supports further regulatory approximation and achievement of compliance in all transport areas, the institutional development of the governmental agencies responsible for the development of the road, rail, maritime and air transport sectors in the EaP countries, and the adoption of consequent standards, through exchange of best EU practices, technical assistance, and the organisation of study tours, workshops and forums;

23.

Supports implementation of the transport infrastructure projects along the Eastern Partnership transport network through existing EU programmes and instruments that improve connections with the TEN-T core network, and also the completion of ongoing projects connecting EaP countries with EU transport networks;

24.

Deems it necessary for Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, as signatories of Association Agreements, to receive adequate support from the EU in the development of the road, rail, air and sea sectors;

25.

Underlines that sea transport and navigable ways represent a fundamental element for the development of trade, for facilitating the movement of passengers and for a better interconnection among transport systems, after taking into account the specific geographic features of the EaP countries;

26.

Instructs its Co-Presidents to forward this resolution to the President of the European Parliament, the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the European External Action Service, and the governments and parliaments of the Member States and of the Eastern Partnership.


(1)  Adopted on 17 March 2015 in Yerevan, Armenia.


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