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Document 52003AE1174

Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on the "Revision of the list of trans-European network (TEN) projects up to 2004"

OJ C 10, 14.1.2004, p. 70–78 (ES, DA, DE, EL, EN, FR, IT, NL, PT, FI, SV)

52003AE1174

Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on the "Revision of the list of trans-European network (TEN) projects up to 2004"

Official Journal C 010 , 14/01/2004 P. 0070 - 0078


Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on the "Revision of the list of trans-European network (TEN) projects up to 2004"

(2004/C 10/15)

On 8 April 2003, in a letter from Mr Umberto Vattani, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Italy to the European Union, the Council asked the European Economic and Social Committee to draw up, in accordance with Article 262 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, an exploratory opinion on the "Revision of the list of Trans-European Network (TEN) projects up to 2004".

The Section for Transport, Energy, Infrastructure and the Information Society, which was responsible for preparing the Committee's work on the subject, adopted its opinion on 4 September 2003. The rapporteur was Mr Levaux.

At its 402nd plenary session, held on 24 and 25 September 2003 (meeting of 25 September), the European Economic and Social Committee adopted the following opinion by 90 votes to 6, with 6 abstentions.

1. Aim of this exploratory opinion

1.1. After the Treaty of Maastricht was concluded in 1993, the Commission put together a comprehensive framework for developing European networks, aimed at speeding up completion of the single market, linking outlying regions with the heart of Europe and opening Europe up to its neighbouring countries. In Essen in 1994, the heads of state and government pinpointed 14 priority transport projects. In 1996, the Parliament and Council adopted a decision setting down more general Community guidelines for trans-European transport networks (TEN-T). This decision covered a series of infrastructures worth EUR 400 thousand million to be completed by 2010, of which EUR 152 thousand million (at 2002 prices) were earmarked for TEN-Ts. Six years after this decision was taken, barely 25 % of the planned projects have been completed, and at the current rate of investment it will take 20 to 25 years to complete the EU's network described in the European master plans.

1.2. The budgetary resources earmarked by Member States and the Community are therefore proving to be inadequate for meeting the objectives. Moreover, public investment in transport declined from 1,5 % of GDP in the 80's to less than 1 % in the 90's. For information, comparative GDP and construction investment curves, the latter including transport infrastructure, illustrate this deterioration.

1.3. The Commission underlines that delays are affecting border and rail infrastructure projects in particular, i.e. two key areas of Community policy:

- securing cross-border continuity of networks;

- shifting the expected increase in road freight to other means of transport (rail, inland waterway and sea transport).

1.4. Since 1996, several events have occurred and reports have come out which warrant a review of the TEN-T guidelines.

- Firstly, the rate of economic growth envisaged at the Lisbon Council could by 2010 lead to a 38 % increase in freight traffic and a 24 % rise in passenger transport, compared to 1998. For its part, the Commission demonstrated in its 2001 White Paper entitled "European transport policy for 2010: time to decide" that without a major shift in the balance of traffic, freight transport will increase by 50 %. The Committee agrees with the Commission's analyses of this development and stresses that, although economic growth today is not in line with forecasts made a few years ago, this should not in any way be seen as yet another opportunity to put off action on decisions already made or to postpone making choices regarding TEN-T. Deadlines for completing infrastructure and putting equipment into service are spread over a 10 to 20-year period; thus when growth picks up, it will lead to traffic gridlock.

- Secondly, as of 2004 the EU is taking on board ten new countries and it has already announced its intention to take in other candidate countries over the next few years. This situation requires account to be taken of the new Member States' needs, both to allow them to adjust their economies to that of the EU and to properly absorb the inevitable extra traffic. The Commission estimates that along the corridors linking these new Member States to the current EU countries, some 20000 km of roads, 30000 km of railway lines, sea ports and airports will either have to be built or improved at a cost approaching EUR 100 thousand million. The Committee deems it vital that the Commission include some internal waterways in its plans, in addition to the Corridor VII Danube project, for they are particularly suited to the transport infrastructure of several of the new countries, especially bearing in mind sustainable development requirements.

1.5. For these reasons, in October 2001 the Commission proposed a revision of the guidelines on the trans-European networks. Towards the end of 2003 it will present a new proposal to continue the reform of TEN policy:

- to link the new Member States' and the candidate countries' networks, particularly in the transport corridors;

- and to step up efforts to select and concentrate on true European priorities such as:

- removing bottlenecks;

- cross-border projects; and

- the main land and sea routes.

This will ensure cohesion throughout Europe, while current TEN-T schemes sometimes operate alongside national schemes, which means that Community funds are thinly spread. The Committee supports this approach, since Community action on infrastructures does not have to cover the many needs which have been identified and are particular to each Member State, but rather must focus on trans-European priorities, securing the continuity of networks. Since this is a priority in Europe's general interest, Europe must shoulder the lion's share of the burden of Community infrastructure costs, above all in those areas which are at a disadvantage due to their geographical location, such as those with extensive mountain regions.

1.6. In drawing up its new proposals for TEN-T, the Commission set up a study and research mechanism:

- It entrusted Mr Karel Van Miert with the task of chairing a high level group to examine in detail the projects worth including in an updated list of major priority projects for the enlarged European Union(1).

- It set up an internal task force to provide the high level group with support in analysing the one hundred projects submitted by the Member States, with reference inter alia to updated traffic forecasts.

1.7. The Union is on the eve of enlargement. Its budget for 2007-2013 will be difficult to draw up for the Europe of Twenty-Five, since it will have to set the priorities amongst the trans-European infrastructure projects. The Commission therefore felt it necessary to start to reflect on the future of Community funding, in particular on the budget earmarked for trans-European networks. On 23 April 2003, it presented a communication outlining the innovative financial instruments and management systems needed to carry out major infrastructure projects. Section 4 of this opinion examines this communication.

1.8. The Committee takes the view that the trans-European transport network constitutes a key element of European integration, which can be achieved only if there is unimpeded movement of people and goods. It also points out that it has long maintained that the essential increase in transport must take place with due regard to sustainable development principles.

1.9. Initially, up to the end of June 2003 and pending information on the Van Miert Group's work which had hitherto been kept confidential, the Committee:

- took note of the progress made up to the end of 2002 with the 14 Essen priority projects and the six new projects added in 2001, on the basis of the Commission document published in February 2003 entitled: the trans-European transport network - TEN-T - priority projects;

- prepared a forecast which indicated an overall implementation rate of 74 % for the 14 Essen priority projects by 2010;

- examined the methodology adopted by Mr Karel Van Miert's group for selecting the new priority projects;

- renewed its proposals for funding these priority projects by means of a mechanism creating a "permanent" formula in the EU's budget, independent of the Member States, allowing higher subsidies to be granted and guaranteeing loans. This new mechanism should help the States concerned and the EU to comply with the implementation deadlines, since national budgetary constraints would be eased.

1.10. Then, by the end of 2003, after publication of the Van Miert Group's report, the Commission will prepare its new proposal for revising the TEN-T policy guidelines, which will be submitted to the various institutions and bodies in line with the usual procedures, with a view to obtaining definitive approval from the European Parliament and the Council in early 2004. The Committee, while understanding the deadlines imposed by the Parliamentary elections in early 2004 and the enlargement to 25 in May 2004, regrets the fact that the Commission's cooperation on the matter is somewhat delayed due to the Commission wanting to keep the Van Miert Group's work confidential (its proposals only being available for examination during the last few days).

2. The current priority projects: progress and characteristics

The Committee would point out that in 1993, the Commission published a white paper on transport setting out priorities on the basis of three master plans; EUR 300 thousand million were scheduled to be invested by 2010:

- the plan for roads, scheduling the construction of 17000 km of motorway;

- the plan for high speed trains, scheduling the construction of 4000 km of new line and the upgrading of 3600 km of existing line; and

- the plan for inland waterways.

Some of the projects examined in 1993 by the Christopherson Group and included in the guidelines have been unilaterally abandoned (Rhine - Rhone link) and are no longer included in the 14 priority projects adopted in Essen; others have been changed. There has been some major slippage in terms of deadlines and costs. In view of this, while it approves of the Commission's current steps to update the list, the Committee would point out that it is counter-productive when Member States do not honour commitments and when established priorities are called into question. The simple fact of revising the list of TEN-T priority projects every five years will not make it possible to secure effective sustainable development in Europe, be it in economic and social or environmental terms. The Committee therefore wishes formally to draw the attention of the Commission, Parliament and Council to the importance which decisions on TEN-T will have, particularly regarding commitments on funding, work start-up and completion dates. At a time when the EU of Twenty-Five is being established, with a view to redeploying economic resources and in view of economic globalisation, we have a unique, historic opportunity to consolidate what has been achieved to date by providing Europe with a modern, comprehensive and efficient transport infrastructure.

2.1. The 14 priority projects adopted in Essen: + six additional projects

In response to a request made at the Barcelona Council, the Commission compiled a brochure in February 2003 setting out what had been achieved under the Essen priority projects. This brochure, entitled "Trans-European Transport Network TEN-T Priority Projects", provides the following information, allowing the scale of the EU's ambitions in this sphere to be gauged. In 2010, within the Europe of Fifteen, the whole trans-European transport network, including priority TEN-Ts projects, should comprise:

- 75200 km of roads;

- 78000 km of railways;

- 330 airports;

- 270 international seaports;

- 210 inland ports; and

- traffic management systems, user information and navigation services.

The total cost of financing this network was estimated at EUR 400 thousand million (at 1996 prices), with an average financing of EUR 19 thousand million per annum; this entails implementation spread over about twenty years, which is not compatible with the stated aim of implementation by 2010. Appendix 1 sets out in table form the twenty (14 + 6) projects with the key information provided by the Commission, such as deadlines for completion, total costs and the state of progress as of September 2002. The table shows up the following inconsistencies:

2.1.1. As regards the deadlines, whilst 2010 is taken as the general reference date for completion of priority projects, several of these, according to the Commission's indications, will only be finished after this date. Thus, the Committee believes that it would be more realistic and effective to plan projects which would come into service between 2010 and 2020 (as proposed in the EESC's January 2002 opinion on "The future of the trans-European inland waterway network" up to 2020 - CES 24/2002). However, this of course presupposes that the will exists to do everything possible to comply with this new deadline and to this end the Committee suggests that:

- steps be considered for setting up a monitoring body within the Commission which, together with the Member States, would take responsibility for coordinating, along the major routes, the management of the various sections and the funding from the EIB, EU Member States and PPP, etc.;

- a mechanism be introduced imposing heavy sanctions on those states not meeting their obligations. For instance, the sanctions could be as follows in these cases for any project which such states put forward as being of priority importance:

- the state concerned could see part of its control of the project concerned being taken away from it by the EU and given to other Member States involved in the trans-European link;

- if a state pulls out of a project, European aid for studies or land purchase might have to be reimbursed to the EU by the defaulting state, thus preserving the EU's financial interests;

- as in private contracts, delays in delivering an infrastructure should be subject to a penalty payable by the state at fault, like the mechanisms for financial guarantees of successful completion of work used in the private sector.

2.1.2. As far as project costs are concerned, the table in Appendix 1 shows that overall investments are estimated by the Commission to be 173,993 thousand million euros (EUR 173993 million) for the twenty priority TEN-T projects decided upon or proposed in 1996 and 2001. In parallel, in the same document the Commission announces a total cost of 400 thousand million euros (EUR 400000 million) to which a further one hundred thousand million euros (EUR 100000 million) is to be added for projects for the new Member States for all the networks, including these priority TEN-Ts. In order to clarify the various estimates from 1996 and then 2001, together with those submitted to the Van Miert Group, the Committee would underline the following:

- Lists 0 and 1 in the table below set out the remainder of the TEN-T priority projects decided upon at Essen together with those added in 2001, the costs of which increased sharply following the update and a number of extensions within the corridor where the initial project was located (e.g., the Danube project, number 2 on List 1).

>TABLE>

Excerpt from the Van Miert report - § 6.6.2.

- the Van Miert Group has set an overall cost package of EUR 600 thousand million up to 2002 for work outlined in the trans-European transport network plans (including the TEN-T priorities and plans for the new Member States);

- costs of EUR 257 thousand million have been set by the states for the projects in Lists 0, 1, 2 and 3, which receive Community subsidies; and

- the Commission has estimated the cost of the networks to set up in the ten new Member States at EUR 100 thousand million.

2.1.3. The proportion of European subsidies for priority TEN-T projects (currently standing at 10 % of a project's cost, excluding taxes) provides few incentives. In some cases, the Commission might envisage raising this to 20 %, but the Committee feels that for genuine incentives to be provided, depending on the nature and frontier location of certain projects, this subsidy should comprise between 20 % and 50 % of costs, excluding taxes.

3. The working group chaired by Mr Karel Van Miert

The Commission proposal to present new TEN-T guidelines by 2004 is an ambitious and difficult one because at the same time it should:

- take into account the consequences of enlargement;

- set up comprehensive networks quickly without missing links;

- solve the funding problem; and

- change ways of thinking by favouring general European interests over national ones.

The Committee feels that by setting up a high level group as the Commission has done, steps to achieve the above will be made easier.

3.1. Membership of the high level group

Mr Karel Van Miert chaired the group which was comprised of one representative from each Member State plus one observer from each country expected to join the EU by 2007 at the latest, i.e. the ten accession countries plus Romania and Bulgaria, together with the European Investment Bank (EIB). The Commission provided the secretariat for the Group.

3.2. The high level group's brief

a) To examine proposals for projects submitted by current or future Member States for insertion in the lists of priority projects previously accepted or proposed and thus to amend the TEN-T guidelines.

b) To examine projects which are not sponsored by any country, but which could be of particular trans-European value.

c) To compile a restricted list of projects which cover all the major regions in an enlarged Europe.

d) To draw up a method, procedure and timetable for subsequent updates to the list of priority projects, including for the removal or non-implementation of projects whose launch has been delayed too long, or which have been subject to major changes affecting their profitability or feasibility.

e) To look into means to facilitate and speed up the implementation of projects on the restricted list.

f) To decide on the horizontal priorities which should be covered by the guidelines.

3.2.1. The Committee approves as a whole the content of the brief given to the high level group. Nevertheless, it does not agree with the Commission in respect of the thinking behind d) concerning the withdrawal of projects, for this is tantamount to anticipating failures. The same holds true for any state not meeting its commitments and jeopardising the general European interest and, in particular, the neighbouring country concerned in the cross-border project. Wielding a large EU subsidy, the Commission should, with the Parliament's and Council's support, adopt a more determined approach vis-à-vis any such Member States, involving binding arrangements, and set up a body such as a "European Agency for Transport Infrastructure" with resources for following up and, if necessary, monitoring project implementation, in particular for the ten new countries, so as to prevent such a problem from occurring. Moreover, it would point out that it is vital to apply these penalties (See para. 2.1.1).

3.3. The Van Miert Group's general criteria for project assessment

These have been divided into two phases:

- Phase 1:

a) Compliance with the concept of major European routes, known as "corridors".

b) Commitment from the Member States concerned to complete projects with a minimum cost of EUR 500 million in the precise timescale stipulated.

c) Suitability of projects in relation to European transport policy objectives, particularly as regards bottlenecks and cross-border links.

d) Potential economic viability, with impact on the environment and on economic and social cohesion.

- Phase 2:

e) Assessment of a project in terms of sustainable development as part of the trans-European network, in particular its contribution to intermodal transport options, aimed at encouraging a shift to other forms of transport (rail, intermodal, maritime and river transport).

f) Territorial cohesion in the candidate countries and major outlying regions.

g) Beneficial trans-national impact on several states, with evaluation of European added value in terms of % of total international traffic.

3.3.1. The Committee believes that the proposed general criteria are relevant. However, it would stress that:

- regarding point b), it is an illusion to have commitments without sanctions against states in the event of the commitments not being met (see point 2.1.1);

- regarding point d), the potential economic viability criterion should not make it possible to eliminate a project whose completion turns out to be vital. In the past, this kind of thinking, applied to sections or parts of networks, has resulted inter alia in missing links, bottlenecks and a lack of continuity in the network;

- regarding point g) and sustainable development, the Committee would stress that the assessment tools based on a forward study still warrant publication, and precise objectives still have to be set.

3.3.2. The Committee welcomes the fact that point a) requires that a project absolutely must fit into a corridor or structure-promoting European network, where continuity is assured from one end to another. Thus the Commission, when compiling its final proposals, will identify a series of structure-promoting networks which will constitute the main routes for traffic and transportation in an enlarged EU, in conjunction with neighbouring countries, in this way securing the continuity of these networks by making it mandatory to provide or replace missing links.

4. Project funding arrangements

On 23 April 2003, the Commission published a communication entitled: "Developing the trans-European transport network: Innovative funding solutions. Interoperability of electronic toll collection system"; at the same time it issued a proposal for a directive concerning the more widespread use and interoperability of electric road toll collection systems in the Community. The Committee is currently dealing with this proposal for a directive in a separate opinion(2).

From the outset of the priority TEN-T review procedure, the Commission had planned to seek solutions for project funding since this is in fact an unavoidable and key issue. There is general agreement about the fact that "without high-performance transport networks, economies cannot be competitive". However, such agreement is worth nothing if, as can be seen, "transport infrastructure is still under-financed, for lack of adequate funds and the absence of a framework conducive to investment".

The Commission sets out the reasons for the stagnation of the trans-European transport network:

- the lack of political will on the part of the decision-makers in the Member States;

- the inadequacy of the financial resources dedicated to the trans-European network; and

- the fragmentation of the entities responsible for the projects.

The Commission then notes that the share of GDP (less than 1 %) earmarked for completing transport infrastructures has been constantly on the decline over the last few decades, while the needs identified and the traffic have actually been increasing.

The Committee confirms and expresses its concerns about the above and was therefore most interested to study the solutions put forward by the Commission, which are based on two main ideas:

- greater coordination between public and private funding for trans-European transport networks; and

- back-up from an effective European electric toll collection service.

4.1. The Committee clearly supports the Commission's aim of achieving greater coordination between regional, national and Community funding. Again, the Committee feels that the Commission should, with support from the EIB, have additional means available to help certain countries put financial arrangements into place and overcome the difficulties inherent in a policy of co-financing infrastructures, where each party negotiates its involvement in keeping with the interests it represents and not the general European interest. The Committee therefore feels that it is necessary for the EIB to support a European Transport Infrastructure Agency which should be set up to optimise the existing funding mechanisms by strengthening them and better coordinating them.

4.2. As regards the public-private partnership (PPP), the Committee agrees with the Commission's analysis of the limits of entirely private funding of large-scale infrastructures. However, mixed financing cannot provide the sole solution, insofar as private investors quite legitimately require certain guarantees and profitability from their investments. As a consequence, costs go up. Moreover, other aspects should be taken into consideration:

- every priority TEN-T project involving several European countries should be carried out by setting up a "European company" legal structure, so as to secure the transparency necessary for the financial arrangements for the project;

- a PPP can only reasonably be set up where there is a balance between the financial input from the public and private sectors. It would be hard to imagine a PPP where the private sector had only a very small input. It is therefore not realistic to envisage the private sector contributing the necessary funding for carrying out the majority of projects;

- limits must be set so as to avoid the unforeseen consequences of a gradual abandonment of the sovereign power traditionally held by Member States or public authorities in matters pertaining to spatial planning and major public infrastructures.

As far as the funding of transport infrastructures is concerned, while PPPs represent an interesting option for certain specific cases, they in no way constitute a panacea.

4.3. Creating a European Transport Investment Fund

4.3.1. With the exception of the Structural Funds, the EU does not have sufficient resources available, either in its own Transport budget or in the various funds allocated to it, to contribute high subsidies (10 % to 50 % of the cost of the work involved) to provide incentives or ensure that commitments are irreversible. Likewise, the subsidiarity principle slows matters down considerably, each state retaining the possibility of challenging or postponing the commitments made. Thus the Committee reiterates its suggestion of setting up a European Transport Investment Fund in the EU budget, independent of the Member States, especially for the implementation of priority TEN-T projects, which would receive permanent financing and be managed at Community level.

4.3.2. Enlargement is providing the EU with an historic opportunity to put the finishing touches to the integration venture, by equipping itself for several decades with sufficient means to establish the networks for transporting people and goods that are vital for securing its sustainable development over the coming decades. Land-use planning in an enlarged Europe, together with the completion of communication infrastructures constitute the priorities for ensuring that attitudes and rules change, undertaking ambitious reforms and, to this end, accepting the transfer of some responsibilities from Member States to the EU. The proposed European Transport Infrastructure Fund would be financed by a very modest solidarity levy of 1 cent per litre on all fuel consumed on the EU's roads by all private and commercial vehicles (see Appendix 4 - Breakdown of fuel consumption in 2001). As regards the various ways of solving the transport infrastructure funding headache, the Committee will set out its views more comprehensively and in greater detail in a later own-initiative opinion on future transport infrastructure - financing, planning, new neighbours.

4.3.3. The Committee notes that twice in 2003(3) it has proposed setting up such a fund as has the European Parliament. The principal features of the fund proposed by the Committee should be:

- a European fund dedicated to priority TEN-T projects;

- permanent revenue from "one cent" on every litre of fuel (petrol, diesel, LPG) consumed in the EU-25 for all road transport of goods and persons (public or private);

- collected by the Member States and paid in full every year into the dedicated fund in the EU budget, i.e. about EUR 3000 million from the 300 million tonnes of fuel consumed;

- management of fund entrusted to the European Investment Bank to spend on the priority TEN-Ts proposed by the Commission and adopted by the Parliament and Council;

- very long-term loans (30-50 years);

- interest rate subsidies for the loans;

- provision of financial guarantees for PPPs;

- on behalf of the EU, granting of subsidies of 10 to 50 % of the work according to the type of project.

5. Report of the high level group

During the second half of 2003, the Commission will put forward definitive proposals to the Parliament and the Council, backing up those made by the group chaired by Mr Van Miert.

The Committee, once it has seen and discussed the Commission's definitive proposals based on the Van Miert report, will then complete its comments and suggestions, which will be incorporated in a more comprehensive own-initiative opinion on "The future of European transport infrastructures".

6. Conclusions

6.1. The revision of the list of priority TEN projects up to 2004 is being carried out at the same time as the EU is increasing from 15 to 25 members. This major historical event presents a unique opportunity for giving Europe a TEN-T commensurate with the foreseeable challenges over the coming decades.

6.2. The trans-European transport networks must above all ensure that traffic flows freely. Consequently, absolute priority must be given to trans-European routes and corridors which remove bottlenecks and complete missing links. The level of subsidies must be more attractive, in particular for cross-border projects, and must lie between 10 % and 50 % of the cost of the work (excluding taxes), depending on the type of project involved.

6.3. Existing mechanisms are highly inadequate for placing EU financing of priority TEN-Ts on a more permanent footing. The Committee is proposing that a European fund specifically for transport infrastructure be set up in the EU budget, with permanent revenue. The revenue for this fund for carrying out priority TEN-T projects would come from a levy of one cent per litre on all fuel consumed on EU roads, which would bring in EUR 3000 million a year, for 300 million tonnes consumed in 2006. This financing would provide a modest, solidarity-based contribution for future generations from all European road-users.

6.4. In order to ensure better coordination of project launches, financial arrangements, implementation follow-up and monitoring in the new countries, the Commission must have additional means available under a new structure such as a "European Transport Infrastructure Coordination Agency".

6.5. So as to prevent some states from pulling out of projects which they have put forward for priority classification, or from overrunning the deadlines, the Commission must (as with private projects) provide for heavy sanctions or penalties for those states which do not respect the general European interest or who do not meet the requirements of other states involved in the projects concerned.

Brussels, 25 September 2003.

The President

of the European Economic and Social Committee

Roger Briesch

(1) See section 3.

(2) Committee opinion being drafted on the "Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the widespread introduction and interoperability of electronic road toll systems in the Community - EESC 716/2003".

(3) OJ C 85, 8.4.2003, p. 133 - opinion on the alignment of the excise duties on petrol and diesel fuel - and opinion on safety requirements for tunnels in the trans-European road network.

APPENDIX

to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee

The following points in the section opinion were deleted. In the vote on the proposal to delete these points, more than a quarter of the votes cast were in favour of their retention.

Point 4.3.1

It has been demonstrated that current funding options do not allow European infrastructure projects to be completed under satisfactory technical conditions and within the appropriate timescale. The reasons are well known: it is mainly due to the fact that project implementation is the responsibility of Member States. For budgetary or political reasons, in a difficult economic climate, Member States - with an eye to the Maastricht criteria - will be obliged to give precedence to more immediate problems, i.e. minor reductions in everyday operating costs and major reductions in investment expenditure. Investment in priority TEN-Ts decided upon in early 2004 by the Council and the Parliament at the Commission's suggestion responds to a need for more rapid completion of the Single Market in order to boost competitiveness, and therefore growth and employment. As part of the growth initiative advocated by the Italian presidency, the Committee suggests that the sums involved in "virtuous" investments earmarked for priority TEN-Ts alone should not be included when calculating compliance with the Maastricht criteria if the state concerned really has embarked upon a debt reduction policy.

Point 6.4

In order to bolster the EU Italian presidency's "growth initiative" during this period of stagnation and major budgetary deficits in certain countries, the Committee suggests that the sums involved in "virtuous" investments earmarked for priority TEN-T projects alone should not be included when calculating compliance with the Maastricht criteria.

Outcome of the vote

For: 48, against: 41, abstentions: 8.

The following amendments, which were supported by more than a quarter of the votes cast, were rejected at the plenary session

Point 4.4

Delete.

Outcome of the vote

For: 37, against: 53, abstentions: 10.

Point 6.3

Delete.

Outcome of the vote

For: 25, against: 51, abstentions: 3.

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