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EU guidelines for the development of the trans-European transport network

This summary has been archived and will not be updated. See 'EU guidelines for the development of the trans-European transport network' for an updated information about the subject.

EU guidelines for the development of the trans-European transport network

The development of the trans-European transport network (TEN-T) contributes to the smooth operation of the internal market and to strengthening economic and social cohesion. It has constituted a key element in the relaunched Lisbon strategy for competitiveness and employment in Europe and will play an equally central role in the attainment of the objectives of the new Europe 2020 Strategy. A modernised, multimodal trans-European transport network will ensure a resource efficient mobility of persons and goods under the best possible social, environmental and safety conditions, as well as promote job creation, economic growth and territorial and social cohesion across the entire European Union (EU).


Decision No 661/2010/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 July 2010 on Union guidelines for the development of the trans-European transport network.


The trans-European transport network (TEN-T) aims to contribute to two major European Union (EU) objectives – the smooth functioning of the internal market and the strengthening of economic and social cohesion – by means of attaining a number of specific objectives:

  • sustainable mobility of persons and goods across the EU;
  • high-quality infrastructure;
  • effective coverage of the whole territory of the EU, by linking island, landlocked and peripheral regions to the central regions as well as interlinking the major conurbations and regions of the EU;
  • interoperability and intermodality within and between different modes of transport;
  • optimal use of existing capacities;
  • economic viability of the network;
  • connection of the network to the member countries of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, and the Mediterranean countries.

The TEN-T will comprise transport infrastructures (road, rail and inland waterway networks, motorways of the sea, seaports, inland waterway ports and airports), together with the corresponding traffic management systems and positioning and navigation systems networks.

Characteristics of the various transport networks

The road network comprises motorways and high-quality roads, as well as infrastructure for traffic management, user information, dealing with incidents and electronic fee collection. This network should guarantee its users a high, uniform and continuous level of services, comfort and safety, not least through active cooperation between traffic management systems at European, national and regional level and providers of travel and traffic information and value added services.

The rail network comprises both high-speed and conventional rail networks, as well as facilities that enable the integration of rail and road and, where appropriate, maritime services and air transport services. Technical harmonisation and the gradual implementation of the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) harmonised command and control system ensures the interoperability of national networks. The users should benefit from a high level of quality and safety, thanks to continuity and interoperability.

The inland waterway network comprises rivers, canals, and inland ports. The network also includes traffic management infrastructure, and in particular an interoperable, intelligent traffic and transport system (River Information Services), intended to optimise the existing capacity and safety of the inland waterway network as well as improve its interoperability with other modes of transport.

The motorways of the sea network concentrates flows of freight on sea-based logistical routes so as to improve existing maritime links and establishes new viable, regular and frequent links for the transport of goods between EU countries.

The airport network comprises airports situated within the EU which are open to commercial air traffic and which comply with certain criteria as set out in Annex II of this decision. They should permit the development of air links, both within the EU and between the EU and the rest of the world, as well as the interconnection with other modes of transport.

A combined transport network comprises railways and inland waterways that permit long-distance combined transport of goods between all EU countries. It also comprises intermodal terminals equipped with installations allowing transhipment between the different transport networks.

The shipping management and information network will comprise coastal and port shipping management systems, vessel positioning systems, reporting systems for vessels transporting dangerous goods and communication systems for distress and safety at sea.

The air traffic management network comprises the air space reserved for general aviation, airways, air navigation aids, the traffic planning and management systems and the air traffic control systems, necessary to ensure safe and efficient aviation in European airspace.

The positioning and navigation network comprises the satellite positioning and navigation systems and the systems that will be defined in the future European Radio Navigation Plan. These systems are intended to provide a reliable and efficient positioning and navigation service which could be used by all modes of transport.

Priority projects

The priority projects are projects of common European interest that fulfill the following criteria:

  • are intended to eliminate a bottleneck or complete a missing link on a major route of the trans-European network ;
  • are on such a scale that long-term planning at European level contributes significant added value;
  • present potential socio-economic benefits;
  • significantly improve the mobility of goods and persons between EU countries;
  • contribute to enhancing the territorial cohesion of the EU by integrating the networks of the new EU countries;
  • contribute to the sustainable development of transport.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Decision No 661/2010/EU



OJ L 204 of 5.8.2010

Last updated: 31.01.2011