Doc. 9737

14 March 2003

50 years of ECMT (European Conference of Ministers of Transport): transport policies for Greater Europe


Committee on Economic Affairs and Development

Rapporteur: Mr Miguel Anacoreta Correia, Portugal, non-registered


The report recalls the major contribution made by the 42-member state European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT) as it celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2003 – over which period the Parliamentary Assembly has served as its parliamentary forum on a regular basis.

As the European Union prepares to nearly double its membership over the years to come, the ECMT’s efforts to achieve an integrated, efficient, safe, socially fair and environmentally friendly transport system across Europe retain all their significance. The report in this context draws attention to the need to modernise and streamline Europe’s railway network and inter alia welcomes the European Union’s proposal to establish a European Railway Agency in order to enhance inter-operability between countries.

The report pays particular attention to the need to bring down the number of road accidents, which each year claim some 90,000 dead and two million injured in the ECMT area. It strongly supports the ambition of the ECMT and the EU to cut these numbers by half by 2010. It urges the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers to organise a joint ECMT - Council of Europe Conference on Road Safety and proposes a series of measures which, it says, should underpin such an initiative.

I.       Draft Resolution

1.       The Parliamentary Assembly has examined the report of its Committee on Economic Affairs and Development regarding the activities of the European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT), notably since the Assembly’s last Resolution 1186 (1999) on European transport policies.

2.       The Assembly congratulates the ECMT on its 50th Anniversary in 2003 and recalls its own regular reporting on ECMT activities since 1955. The ECMT, which today counts 42 member countries, can look back on half a century of vital contributions to forward-looking, pan-European transport policies. The Assembly fully supports the ECMT’s efforts to shape an integrated transport system across the continent, to establish close transport policy coordination between the European Union and other European countries, and to provide a forum for analysis and discussion on trends and problems in European transport.

3.       Current transport policies in Europe reflect the overall recognition that market principles must lie at the heart of the system – with governments and international organisations such as the ECMT, the European Union, the OECD and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe there to establish quality standards, coordinated investment strategies and an appropriate regulatory framework. Joint efforts by, and smooth cooperation between, these institutions are essential in order to achieve greater efficiency, competitiveness and inter-operability of European transport networks, while also tackling environmental and safety problems.

4.       The Assembly notes the growing pressure on the policy makers in the ECMT member states

5.       Transport is a key element for the proper functioning of modern economies, including the EU’s Internal Market, and is a major driving force for European integration. The forthcoming enlargement of the European Union from 15 to 25 member states, corresponding to over half the ECMT membership, will have considerable consequences for relations between the two institutions. The Assembly sees an essential role for the ECMT as lying in facilitating the convergence of policies and in continuing to harmonise standards between the two groups of countries, also in consideration of future EU enlargements.

6.       The rapid changes in European transport have, unfortunately, left national railway systems largely unaffected, quite at variance with the latter’s’ potential for low-cost, fast, efficient and environmentally friendly transport. A radical policy breakthrough is therefore needed in order to improve the capacity of railways to carry freight and passengers rapidly and safely over long distances. The Assembly strongly supports the proposals by the European Commission for rapid progress towards an integrated European railway area, notably by establishing a European Railway Agency, which should aim to enhance inter-operability between national systems, to develop a common approach to rail safety, and to accelerate and extend the opening of the rail freight and passenger markets to international competition.

7.       Enhancing the safety and accessibility of transport systems takes on particular importance against the background of the 90 000 people killed and two million persons injured annually in road accidents in the ECMT area. The Assembly strongly supports the ambition of the ECMT and the European Union to halve the number of road victims by 2010. It urges member states to implement the totality of ECMT decisions and recommendations in this area.

8.       Crime in international transport – especially trafficking in human beings and transit fraud – and the terrorist threat to transport are of major concern to all European countries. The Assembly welcomes the ECMT’s work in these areas and endorses its 2002 Ministerial Declaration on Combating Terrorism in Transport, as well as its commitment to carrying out risk and vulnerability assessments for the various transport modes in these regards.

9.       Several European regions need special transport policies to protect their environment and ensure lasting development. This holds particularly for the major transport hub of the Alps, which are criss-crossed by numerous rail and road links and include many densely populated valleys that suffer strongly from road transport pollution. The Assembly encourages the ECMT to pursue consultations with the European Commission and the countries concerned in order to optimise the regulations in force with regard to trans-Alpine traffic in a way that respects the environment and public health.

10.       Many congested European cities and regions seek to limit car use in favour of public transport. For such policies to succeed, land-use planning, public transportation, parking facilities and traffic management will have to improve significantly. The Assembly - recalling the Resolution on integrated transport policies adopted in 2002 by the Council of Europe’s Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe - calls on the ECMT to study ways of promoting best practices and innovative policies among its member states in this domain, such as via the use of congestion pricing, bio-fuels, ‘car-sharing’ and park-and-ride services.

11.       Finally, the Assembly invites the ECMT to continue to explore, jointly with the OECD, the possible contribution of electronics and computer technology to smoother and safer traffic flows.

II.        Draft Recommendation

1.       The Parliamentary Assembly, referring to its Resolution … (2003) on “Fifty Years of ECMT (European Conference of Ministers of Transport): transport policies for Greater Europe”, sees a strong need and a vast potential across Europe for improving road safety through preventive measures, including the harmonisation of sign-posting and controls and sanctions, in particular for speeding, drink-driving and drug abuse.

2.       Bearing in mind the Council of Europe’s considerable work in the field of education and the continued attention paid by the ECMT to road safety – as manifested in the 1994 Joint ECMT - Council of Europe Conference on Road Safety Education for Young Children and Teenagers – and recalling the objective of the ECMT and the European Union to reduce the number of road victims by half by 2010, the Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers consider organising a Joint ECMT - Council of Europe Conference on Road Safety, involving also other international bodies and non-governmental organisations concerned.

III.       Explanatory memorandum by the Rapporteur


1.       Introduction

2.       General trends in European transport

3.       Transport and European integration

4.       Freight traffic in Europe

5.       Passenger transport in Europe

6.       Developing transport in the information age

7.       Improving safety and accessibility of transport

8.       Towards sustainable transport development policies

9.       Conclusions: European transport in the future

Appendix I: “Specific” projects adopted in 1996 (so called “Essen list”)

* *


1.       Introduction

1.       The Parliamentary Assembly has for many years served as the parliamentary forum of the European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT). It monitors the activities of the organisation and holds regular debates on them, and by extension on European transport policies in general (except for air transport which is being addressed in a separate report).

2.       At this stage, it would be useful to provide some background details on the ECMT:

3.       Over five decades, the ECMT has enlarged so as to comprise, today, 42 member states1, six associated member countries (Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea and the United States) and two observer states (Armenia and Morocco). With the rapid eastward and south-eastern enlargement in the 1990s, signifying a doubling of its membership, the ECMT now encompasses practically the whole of Europe. The Rapporteur hopes that two additional Council of Europe members – Armenia and Cyprus – will also soon join.

4.       The ECMT defines its mission as primarily consisting of: 1) helping to create an integrated – and economically and technically efficient – transport system throughout the enlarged Europe, and one that meets the highest safety and environmental standards and takes the social dimension fully into account; 2) assisting in the building of a bridge, figuratively speaking, between the European Union and the rest of the continent at political level; 3) providing a forum for analysis and discussion on forward-looking transport policy issues for the countries involved. More recently, the ECMT has begun to examine the implications of modern computer and communications technologies for transport.

5.       From an administrative point of view, the ECMT forms part of the OECD and pursues many horizontal activities within it.  Close relations are also maintained with the European Union, the UN-ECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) and, through this Assembly, with the Council of Europe.  In addition, over 32 international governmental and non-governmental organisations have consultative status with the ECMT. The Council of the Conference, comprising the Ministers of Transport of the member states, is the highest decision-making body of the ECMT, with its policies defined in over 200 Resolutions.

6.       The Rapporteur was given the task of drafting this report by the Committee on Economic Affairs and Development of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on 20 November 2002 in view of the fact that Ms Oya Akgönenç was unable to complete it. The Rapporteur feels it only fair to point out that the draft provided to him was almost complete and that he was given the same support as Ms Akgönenç in preparing this report, from Mr Jack Short, Secretary General of the ECMT, and others among his staff. The Rapporteur was able to learn much from the various publications of the ECMT and the European Commission, and his attendance at the international seminar held in Brussels on 16 December 2002 on “Managing the fundamental drivers of transport demand“ was particularly valuable in the drafting of this report. Moreover, a number of Assembly reports were of particular relevance, notably those by Mr Peter Bloetzer on European transport policies2 and by Mr Sükrü Yürür on Transport technologies and European integration3. The author wishes to thank the staff of the European Commission, consulted informally, for their collaboration and comments. He would also like to thank the ECMT Director, Heinz Hilbrecht, with whom he had a very fruitful meeting.

2.       General trends in European transport

      New markets: new infrastructures

7.       Transport is of fundamental importance to modern economies. Society demands ever more mobility, speedy delivery and increased quality of transport services. Politicians in many European countries are increasingly confronted with the pressure to build new infrastructure4 and open up new markets. However, there is general agreement that the transport system needs to improve considerably to meet the many and varied requirements placed on it.

      Economic growth presupposes significant growth in the transport sector

8.       In recent years, although there are variations from one year to another, the strong economic growth in western Europe was accompanied by a similarly strong growth in transport. 1998 is a case in point: while GDP grew by 2.8%, freight movements grew by over 5.3%. Passenger transport, measured in passenger-kilometres, progressed at a rate of 4.9% in 1998 compared to 2.7% the year before. Transport growth in 1998 was indeed the strongest since 1988. Not all the various modes of transport benefited to the same degree, however. Whereas road, inland waterway and especially pipeline transport reported high growth rates, rail freight experienced a significant decline. As for passenger transport, its increase was mainly due to growth in road transport. It is worth mentioning that air travel was by far a champion of growth in 1998 with international air traffic5 in Europe rising by 9.6% and domestic air traffic up by 11.8% on the previous year.

9.       Robust economic growth continued in 1999 and throughout most of 2000, reaching a peak in intra-European trade and industrial output by mid-2000. That year GDP was up by 3.5% in western Europe and even more in the countries in transition (e.g. the Russian Federation recorded a 7.7% growth). Road freight transport continued to take market share from rail and inland waterway transport across Europe. It grew by 5% in 2000 (up from 3.6% in 1999) in western Europe and by a record 5.2% in central and eastern Europe (after only 1.9% in 1999). Still, 2000 was an outstanding year for rail freight transport as the sector grew by 6.4% in western Europe and 4.9% in central and eastern Europe after several years of decline. The sector’s growth in the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) countries was even higher, at 13.4%. However, expectations of renaissance for rail failed to materialise – except for passenger transport by rail in western Europe - as 2001 again marked a decline of 3.5% in western Europe and nearly 5.2% in the rest of Europe (excluding the CIS countries) against the background of general economic slowdown. Worsening economic prospects moderated the growth of road freight transport very little.

      Restructuring in the countries of central and eastern Europe

10.       In the transition countries of central and eastern Europe, the restructuring of economic and political systems, the break-up of their traditional trade links, the sharp decline in output and the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia have led to major problems in the transport sector. However, although rail transport has steadily decreased, its share of overall land transport remains around 42% (51% in 1995) in the countries of central and eastern Europe and remains stable with 86% in the CIS area. Sound economic performance in western Europe in the late 1990s and a long-awaited recovery in the countries in transition boosted the latter’s’ exports to the west and their intra-regional trade, resulting in a strong increase in demand for transport services. A decade of restructuring, institution-building and technological modernisation also started to bear fruit in the transport sector, as the volume of goods and the number of passengers carried by all modes of land transport grew steadily between 1998 and 2000. Moreover, an upsurge in private car ownership has led to a radical change in the structure of passenger transport market.

      Road safety

11.       Road safety6, one of the most important aspects of sustainable transport policies, deteriorated – in some cases alarmingly – throughout Europe in 1998, although the situation varied widely from one country to another. Nonetheless, there does seem to have been an improvement in recent years. The number of road accidents grew by nearly 6% in western Europe but dropped by 1.35% in the transition countries. The following year showed a significant reduction in European road fatalities, even though the number of accidents fell only a little. Western Europe showed an increase in the number of injuries whereas in central and eastern Europe injuries and accidents fell noticeably.

12.        The situation improved in 2000 as the number of road accidents, casualties and fatalities lowered across Europe (the number of victims fell by 2% in western Europe and by 0.8% in central and eastern Europe). The same trend was confirmed in 2001 for western Europe, but the downward trend in central and eastern Europe observed in the 1998-2000 period was unfortunately reversed. However, the figures show that each year there are almost 42 000 people killed on the roads of the European Union alone whereas member countries of the ECMT register over 90 000 dead. In recent years, European public opinion has shown ever increasing interest in this dramatic situation, encouraging the various governments to come up with radical measures to cut down these accidents, with particular attention being focused on the fight against drink-driving and speeding. In this respect, the simplification of bureaucratic and judicial procedures is seen as a key means of ensuring speedy and effective punishment.

      Growth in demand in the coming years

13.       According to the ECMT, freight transport in central and eastern Europe could, according to a maximum scenario, grow by 50 to 60% between 2000 and 2015, a figure very similar to that predicted for the EU. The growth in road transport is expected to reach 60-70%, compared to 20-30% for rail. Over the same period, personal mobility in the transition countries is projected to increase by 40-50% or twice as much as that forecast for the EU. Finally, the growth of international freight traffic is expected to more than double, while that of road traffic could triple. Similarly, the growth in international passenger movements is forecast to be 80-90%, mainly road and air. To avoid future congestion in Europe, substantial efforts will have to be made to improving the capacity and quality of transport.

      Rail transport: insufficient and unsatisfactory

14.       The number of passengers travelling by high-speed train, both nationally and internationally, is steadily growing, although not as fast as that by air or road. The railways’ share in the passenger travel market remains around 6% in western Europe and about 30-40% in other parts of the continent, whereas the share of road transport (private cars and buses) reaches 88% and 35-66% respectively7. New generations of intercity or regional trains designed to improve speed, comfort and customer service are proving increasingly competitive. However for freight transport, railways are less and less competitive in terms of speed, cost and convenience throughout most of Europe, except the CIS countries. Their market share is likely to shrink further unless radical improvements in structure, organisation, pricing, commercial policy, maintenance and interoperability of networks are introduced on a wide scale and without delay.

      Urban transport: growing congestion and pollution

15.       Rapidly rising numbers of motor vehicles are causing serious congestion and air pollution not only in many cities in western Europe but also increasingly so in central and eastern Europe. Urban public transport authorities must reconcile a decline in demand for public transport with tight budgetary constraints and intense pressure to recoup investment. Although experiences regarding urban transport systems vary considerably among cities, most of them share similar problems: managing traffic growth, financing urban public transport, and developing and implementing better urban transport policies.

3.       Transport and European integration

      Enlargement of the European Union. The pan-European role of the ECMT

16.       The forthcoming enlargement of the European Union, scheduled for May 2004, will lead to major changes in the European transport sector. The number of European Union member states will rise from 15 to 25, with the result that of the 42 or 43 countries belonging to the ECMT (depending on whether or not Cyprus joins) 24 or 25 of them will be members of the European Union. This will have a clear impact on relations between the Union and the ECMT.

17.        In the European Union, transport policy, although referred to in the Treaty of Rome, was neglected until 1987. Thereafter, the European Union’s transport policy took off and this has been sustained, with the incorporation of numerous sectors and the adoption of a decision-making process no longer requiring unanimity (since the Maastricht Treaty). Moreover, this policy is given significant support by member states and by the European Parliament through compliance with

international commitments in the field of the environment and sustainable development. Considerable financial resources required for the creation of a European transport network and for addressing other components of the transport policy have also been made available.

18.       The idea of Trans-European Networks (TEN) emerged at the end of the 1980s in conjunction with the Single Market. The construction of trans-European networks is an important factor for economic growth and job creation. A high-level group to assist the Commission in putting together a proposal, expected in late 2003, for a far-reaching revision of the guidelines for the trans-European transport network, chaired by Mr Van Miert, the former Commission Vice-President, has been set up. The Group will be considering the 14 projects identified by the Essen (1994 – see Appendix I) and Dublin (1996) European Councils and the six new projects announced by the Commission in its October 2001 proposal (and approved by the European Parliament), and from among the proposals made by each state (including the applicant countries) will draw up a short list of priority projects on the major corridors which will carry the heavy flows of traffic between the states in the enlarged Union.

19.        The ECMT will step up its contribution to the drafting of standards covering the whole of Europe as part of its pan-European relations, calling for an improvement in the quantity and quality of transport. These standards should be effective from an economic and technical point of view, able to incorporate technological innovations, and take account of the social dimension of the questions at issue. The importance of these standards will be maintained as a result of not only the ECMT’s inherent role (cf para. 4) but also its unique role as a political bridge between the European Union and the rest of the continent. The dynamism of European construction will therefore largely dependent also on the ECMT.

      New transport needs: after the Single Market, enlargement

20.       The end of European division into two separate blocs at the beginning of the 1990s led to much closer co-operation between European states and regions. The fact that Europe had now opened up to new possibilities of trade and travel showed the importance of good transport and communications. The free circulation of goods and persons was a decisive step to the implementation of the Single Market among the states of the European Union. With many of the former transition countries now preparing to join the EU, trans-European transport networks are becoming even more important.

The situation in south-eastern Europe demands a strengthening of regional co-operation

21.       The differences in quality in transport systems in the EU when compared with the transition countries are today almost as pronounced as ten years ago. Moreover, since the Kosovo conflict, many countries in south-eastern Europe still face the heavy task of repairing damaged transport infrastructure which was already suffering from decades of negligence and under-investment.

22.        Helping countries of south-eastern Europe to restore and improve transport links in the region is now a major task. Streamlining investment and creating a quality framework for regulatory, organisational and institutional reforms geared towards market mechanisms and the development of more efficient practices in the transport sector are the key to the successful implementation of the Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe (adopted in 1999).

23.        Already in 1999, Ministers responsible for Transport of the SECI participating states8 undertook9 to strengthen co-operation among themselves in order to facilitate transport and trade through an innovative approach to regional co-operation. The majority of priority infrastructure projects sorting under the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe - 31 out of 46 - are in fact in the transport sector, as became clear during a major conference organised by the Committee on Economic Affairs and Development in Tirana in October 2002 on “Progress in the Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe: reinforcing Security and Political Stability through economic cooperation”10. They account for around two-thirds of total funding to date. To them should be added six projects which aim to facilitate trans-frontier trade. Also worth mentioning is the 2002 Transport Infrastructure Regional Study in the Balkans, or TIRS, organised under the aegis of the ECMT in close consultation with the authorities of the countries concerned. It listed priority projects and formulated a number of specific recommendations.

4.       Freight traffic in Europe

      Road transport

24.       European industry has been quick to take advantage of the freedom and flexibility offered by road transport. Liberalisation of road freight combined with the opening of markets in central and eastern Europe has led to a steady increase in the share of road transport in overall transport – now at about 75% in the European Union and 55% in European countries outside it – with rail and inland waterways having smaller shares. Moreover, European economic developments increasingly rely on electronic commerce for which road transport offers more flexibility, at least for short and medium distances, than do rail and inland waterways.

      The ECMT’s role: harmonising and facilitating

25.       Since it was set up, the ECMT has sought to facilitate international road transport and integrate the markets concerned. Its multilateral quota of transport licences11 was introduced in 1974.  This marked a major step towards the liberalisation of road freight transport, which could only be achieved in tandem with the harmonisation of competition conditions both between road haulers from different countries and between modes of transport.

26.       This multilateral quota is allocated among the ECMT member countries on the basis of the volume of their international road traffic and foreign trade. The quota, although aiming at liberalisation of trade by road, has regularly encountered opposition from certain countries which have been against substantial increases in the quota for various reasons. However, the main stumbling block is to be found in the fact that such a system leads to an increase in heavy goods vehicles which prove to be a threat to the environment, particularly in certain sensitive areas such as the Alps, and for transit countries.

27.       Following the introduction of standards regarding noise and emissions (at EU level, Euro1, Euro2 and Euro3 in 2001) as well as safety requirements for the "greener and safer" lorry, this quota now promotes the use of environment-friendly and safer vehicles and thereby contributes to ensuring sustainable mobility.  The multilateral character of the licences also serves to rationalise the use of vehicles by reducing the number of empty runs. In 2002, 41 European countries participated in the ECMT multilateral quota system.

28.       There is still, however, scope for progress towards more open markets by further increasing the quota to the highest safety and environmental levels. As evidence shows, the liberalisation of the transport market and the elimination of the competitive distortions are closely related issues. Any future increase in the ECMT quota should therefore, in one way or another, serve to harmonise the conditions of competition between haulers from different member countries.

      The need for social and fiscal harmonisation

29.       The ECMT pays special attention to social conditions in international road transport. Social harmonisation implies common definitions to be applied in each member country and the introduction and implementation of quality licensing standards at national level, allowing fair conditions of access to the profession. The opening of markets also requires non-discrimination between foreign and national operators on social and fiscal matters.  A plethora of taxes and charges remain and complicate harmonisation. Countries should at least aim for fiscal harmonisation and non-discrimination in the ECMT area.  In May 2001 the ECMT Council of Ministers adopted a Resolution on the Social Aspects of Road Transport which specifies that the average working week of drivers should not exceed 48 hours over a reference period of four months. The text approved by the Ministers also calls for the introduction of a system of mutual assistance among member states for implementation of the AETR12 or equivalent regulations on driving and rest times, and a system of information exchange between member states and the ECMT Secretariat on infringements of the said regulations committed by transporters using ECMT licences.

30.       To facilitate the ever expanding goods and passenger traffic between Western Europe and the transition countries of central and eastern Europe, it is essential to reduce the mounting pressure on border crossings. On the one hand, significant progress has been achieved in abolishing frontier controls through the completion of the Single Market and the establishment of the EEA (European Economic Area). On the other hand, substantial efforts have also been made by ECMT member countries in central and eastern Europe – both unilaterally and in co-operation with neighbouring countries – to tackle border crossing problems.

      Railways development

31.       Railways ought to play a major role in European transport. Rail transport is relatively clean, safe and does not clog up even the busiest areas. Railways seem to be particularly suitable on middle and long distances and between Europe’s main hubs, falling as they do between long haul of, say, sea or air and the short distances that can be more conveniently covered by road. With the intensification of intra-European trade and travel, the prospects for railway development ought to be bright.

32.       Reality, however, is less cheerful. More than a century after becoming an integral feature of Europe’s landscape and economy, railways nowadays move goods at an excruciatingly slow speed (18 kilometres per hour on average and between 20 and 30 kilometres per hour on the major international corridors, and with poor reliability). No wonder businesses are deserting rail for road transport. For instance, only 14% of all of Western Europe’s freight traffic – within and between countries – goes by rail. This is only half of the percentage of 1970. The figure for the countries of central and eastern Europe is still about 41% (figures from 2001) but is constantly declining and has almost halved since 1990.

33.       The European rail industry therefore needs a considerable shake-up. Inspired by the revitalising effect of deregulation on the US railway network in the 1980s, the European Commission in the late 1990s unveiled ambitious plans to force change upon the EU’s railway system. The biggest challenge is to enhance the scope for efficiency that exists among the often fragmented and heavily subsidised rail monopolies of the continent. Many of the countless differences between rail operating systems at national level are to be ironed out, public subsidies minimised; operating costs cut, productivity increased and – most importantly – national monopolies are to be opened up to competition.

34.        In January 2002, the European Commission unveiled a new package of measures to speed up the process of creating an integrated railway area:

35.        New proposals are expected in the near future to enhance the quality of railway services (punctuality, diligence, monitoring and specific guarantees to improve quality) improve rail passengers’ rights, and draw up minimum standards relating to the duties, job description and skills of train drivers.

36.       Previous attempts to introduce competition in the railway sector have had only limited success, as in no country had the national operator ceded more than 5% of the market to competitors. The European Commission has set the objective of a gradual opening up of the rail market to competition; this is due to begin with international freight traffic in 2003.

37.       Throughout most of Europe, the largely state-run rail companies lose about € 5 billion a year, even after € 20 billion of government support. More competition (open access to railway networks for various railway companies) could lead to an estimated 20% productivity rise that would allow savings, according to the Financial Times, of some € 15 billion annually. Environmental considerations also play a role in the ‘pro-rail’ thinking. As transport emits a quarter of Europe’s greenhouse gases – with road traffic responsible for six times as much pollution as rail – there is much for European countries to do in this sector, especially if the Kyoto commitments are to be honoured.

38.        The ECMT has looked closely at the possibilities of modal shift in freight transport markets and at its Council of Ministers meeting in May 2002 discussed the political and regulatory frameworks necessary to bring about such a shift efficiently and sustainably. The Ministers are now under no illusion that there will be the anticipated massive modal shift; however, they acknowledged the need for each mode of transport to play its role to the full in those markets where it could be a substitute for road transport. Such a shift requires major investment in railways, significant improvements in the quality and productivity of rail and inland shipping services and liberalisation of freight transport markets. It will also require effective implementation of more efficient and equitable regulatory frameworks particularly in respect of charges for the use of transport infrastructure and the social working conditions that prevail in transport. The Ministers agreed that only a comprehensive approach involving stricter application of road regulations, a system of charges and taxes on infrastructure use and an improvement in the quality of rail services would bring about the desired results.

39.        An essential factor in developing sustainable transport systems thus is improving the quality and efficiency of rail services. In 2002, the Ministers adopted a resolution on the development of European railways focusing on three main areas of reform: interoperability, competitiveness in the railway sector and the framework for inter-modal competition. Taking account of the diversity among the ECMT member states, the Resolution stresses the need to retain the economic principles which should steer regulatory reform while at the same time allowing a degree of latitude for member states to decide on how best to achieve the objectives. It is also essential to take account of the fact that efficient management of the transition will necessarily lead to new regulatory frameworks.

40.       Rail’s strongest weapon should be its potential to offer an optimum combination of transit time, safety and price over medium distances in both the passenger and freight sectors. The goal for European railways must therefore be to offer customers an unbroken international service meeting the same quality standards throughout, whatever the number of countries crossed. In the coming years, rail transport is bound to improve, especially on routes where other modes are already at saturation point. The railways need more resources for their modernisation and development, in particular in new infrastructure projects. Only then can rail transport realise its full potential.


41.       The handling of water, oil, gas or petroleum products in pipelines provides a cost-effective, economic and efficient method of transport, with a minimum of maintenance and little negative impact on the environment. Oil shipments by pipeline have been more or less steadily growing over the past few years both in western Europe and the countries of central and eastern Europe. They increased most significantly in Azerbaijan and the Russian Federation, where oil and gas sales in 2000 accounted, respectively, for 85.2% and 50.4% of total exports13. However, despite such impressive growth in shipment, pipeline transport in the countries of central and eastern Europe is still down compared to the record levels of 1988, prior to the transition period.


42.       In western European countries, the share of inland waterway transport in total transport has remained rather stable over time, at around 7% (12% in the European Union member states which have waterway routes, with a 17% increase over the last ten years). This trend is to be compared, however, with the very high growth in the transport market as a whole – where traffic almost doubled – mainly towards road haulage. With the exception of France, waterway traffic growth exceeded that of rail. The situation in many countries was more satisfactory in international than in domestic transport. The European Commission estimates that the current volume of inland waterway traffic and short-sea shipping in Europe is well below capacity. In central and eastern Europe this dropped sharply at the onset of transition, largely because of structural changes in the economy resulting in reduced flows of raw materials and other bulk materials.

43.       Europe has two major waterway routes with the Rhine and Danube14. International transport on the Danube has come to a virtual standstill following the destruction of three major bridges across the river. The collapse of the bridges into the river may mean that traffic will be closed for some time still, with considerable damage to Serbia and Montenegro, and the surrounding region. Over the same period, transport on the Rhine has increased by 15%.

44.       Short-sea shipping accounts for 41% of intra-Community freight transport. It is the only mode of transport with a growth rate (+27% between 1990 and 1998) close to that of rail transport (+35%). Long-haul shipping is the mode of transport used for almost 70% of trade between the European Community and the rest of the world. Short-sea shipping, in close association with long-haul transport, will not become a real alternative unless waterway and rail transport are used in place of road transport. This is a general problem linked to interoperability of networks in the framework of the combined transport (see footnote 16). The new Marco Polo programme15 of the European Union is designed to help finance inter-modal initiatives and alternative solutions to road transport until such become financially viable.

45.       Inland waterway operators face keen competition. Whereas road haulage and waterway markets are quite distinct, competition is very real between rail and inland navigation. Moreover, the current volume of traffic in Europe by both railways and inland waterways is well below potential capacity. Any revitalisation of rail transport, in particular freight freeways, rail privatisation and access by shipping lines to railway networks would take business away from water transport. Inland waterway operators, too, must therefore innovate to defend their business.

46.        In the same way as action and attention have been focused on the social dimension of road transport, it is also necessary to harmonise the conditions of access to the international waterway transport markets. Accordingly, the Council of Ministers of the ECMT in 2002 stated their views that political action should be taken to facilitate the integration of inland waterway transport into a multi-modal system, improve the conditions for fluvio-maritime transport, overcome the barriers to the development of inland waterway transport, improve the quality of the European inland waterway network, facilitate the opening of the market by eliminating current restrictions on market access, ensure fair competition and bring the international Danube and Rhine regimes closer in line. The Ministers also called for the ECMT to be actively involved in the implementation of the Rotterdam Declaration adopted in September 2001 by the Pan-European Conference on Inland Shipping.

      Combined transport

47.       As the problems of pollution, congestion and lack of safety on roads become more acute and railways have for the most part not yet started to restructure in earnest, the development and promotion of combined transport16 emerges as a good solution. The intrinsic advantages of combined transport and its contribution towards ensuring sustainable mobility have been known for quite some time. Although it has increased considerably in the last decade, combined rail/road transport now accounts for only a relatively small percentage of the total inland freight traffic in ECMT member countries, and is falling, in particular because of the poor rail services on offer. The ECMT‘s 1996 Budapest Declaration confirmed that priority must be given to the development of combined transport in order to meet the forecast growth in traffic levels, guarantee quality transport services and respond to environmental problems. It advocated the implementation of rules to avoid disparities between regulations in the member states of the European Union on the one hand, and those in countries members of the ECMT but not of the Union on the other.

48.       Combined transport unites most of the advantages of land transport and short sea shipping, helps to improve the transport chain and takes traffic off the road. Although combined transport is strongly promoted by the European Union, the UN-ECE and ECMT, it is not a magic formula that can solve all problems. However, in mobilising many different kinds of transport it also fosters closer co-operation between them. We must also hope for greater harmonisation between various countries. In this connection, the ECMT can play a significant role as a forum for exchanges of information and consultation at the highest level.

5.       Passenger transport in Europe

49.       The policies on land and transport use currently applied in the ECMT member states have led to excessive use of private vehicles in towns and cities, whereas public transport is often underused and underdeveloped. This has given rise to more and more bottlenecks, pollution and noise disturbances. Clearly, these environmental consequences are at odds with sustainable development and European countries regard them as unacceptable.

50.       In recent decades the patterns of personal travel have changed significantly. Mobility rose from 17 to 35 km between 1970 and 1997, and is continuing to rise, partly as a result of air transport. Road transport accounts for 70% of passenger travel. In the future, attention will have to be paid to improving the performances of air traffic control systems and easing the burden on air travel by greater use of high-speed trains serving the main routes. Nonetheless, the situation in towns and cities is more complex. European cities are continuing to suffer the effects of urbanisation which very often has gone too far. Growth of these cities has almost invariably made it impossible to implement an appropriate public transport policy. Moreover, population dispersion has encouraged the use of motor cars. The number of cars has tripled in 30 years. By 2010 this number is expected to rise considerably due, in particular, to the increase in the number of cars per inhabitant in the EU applicant countries.

51.        A further aggravating factor, in addition to the effects of urbanisation and increased car ownership, is the reduction in the average size of households and the irrational use by individuals of their own vehicles (which could be offset by measures to encourage car-pooling). From the point of view of both passenger and freight transport, it is essential to overcome unnecessary use of transport in order to reduce the traffic congestion so frequent in the larger European cities and the adverse effects of this congestion on the environment (noise and pollution) and the economy (congestion has a negative impact on productivity and therefore European competitiveness).

52.       Studies have shown that road transport accounts for 84% of all the CO2 emissions in the transport sector as a whole. The future of Europe’s international agreements on sustainable development and CO2 emissions will therefore be played out in towns and cities and on the roads. There is emerging consensus that there is a need for more proactive management of transport demand. In fact, those in charge of the transport sectors are not in a position to modify the factors affecting transport demand. In this connection, interoperability will have a prime role to play, bearing in mind that the transition to interoperability (in physical and pricing terms) will be slow.

53.        Energy efficiency is an environmental necessity and a technological challenge; it is therefore essential to develop new substitute fuels. Here, there is every reason to believe that the Galileo system, which will be operational from 2008, will lead to more rational use of available resources. Public authorities must look more closely at the role of public transport in meeting the requirements of urban and metropolitan mobility. A policy of promoting best practices will help ensure that more appropriate examples will be followed. Amplifying the role of pedestrians and cyclists in urban travel requires a solution to the numerous problems relating to traffic safety in the urban environment. The major challenge in the years ahead will be to reverse the trend for mobility to grow faster than the economy. With the prospect of economic growth of 48% we should be aiming at only 21% increase in traffic.

6.       Developing transport in the information age

54.       E-commerce, or the use of electronic communications and computer technologies to conduct business, has taken firm root over the past decade. According to the OECD, the number of internet users – under three million in the early 1990s – had increased over 80-fold by 1999, with about a quarter purchasing on-line to a value of some US$ 110 billion. If growth continues at this pace, electronic transactions between businesses and from businesses to consumers can easily reach 5% of total transactions by 2005.

55.       The web has provided new opportunities for trade and an added challenge for transport providers. E-commerce, whether used as a trading platform or for supplying customers, encourages direct shopping and thereby enables even very small companies to compete in a world market. Increasingly, buyers and sellers – from the industrialised world, developing countries and the emerging markets – come together thanks to the open structure, global coverage and low usage costs of electronic networks. As enhanced competition pushed companies world-wide to change the way they do business, just-in time ordering and delivering, as well as “built-to-order” and out-sourcing are becoming routine practices. Traditional logistics, however, do not always keep up with the new pace and major delivery crises have occurred.

56.       With more internet retailing, there is a growing need to move small packages quickly. For many conventional shippers, such a flood of small, separate shipments implies reduced profits and overstraining of delivery facilities. On a global level, e-commerce adds to air cargo growth, including between continents. Locally, even if it is less clear whether e-commerce would lead to reduced travel for shopping, home deliveries may be expected to grow.

57.        Some people predict a boom in freight transport demand that risks saturating delivery capacity and leaving e-commerce unable to live up to commitments. Others argue that greater recourse to out-sourcing and consolidation between shippers of long distance consignments – accentuated by mounting environmental pressures and the need to stay competitive – will result in greater efficiency and reduced congestion.

58.       One way or another, the volume of freight transport will grow and something has to be done to enable operators to cope with it. It is important therefore that policy makers identify appropriate regulatory responses supporting electronic exchanges and facilitating transport flows.

7.       Improving safety and accessibility of transport

      Catering for the needs of all users

59.       The development of an efficient and coherent pan-European transport system must come to benefit all users. It is therefore essential that transport infrastructure and systems be designed, built or adjusted to cater for their needs. Without mobility and access to transport, the opportunities for independent living, employment, education and social life are very much reduced. Every link in the transport chain must be accessible. These links include individual transport modes, the interchanges between them, the pedestrian environment and the information needed before and during a journey.

60.       At present, the European transport chain has many weak links. They include physical, infrastructure, technical, institutional, legal and organisational weaknesses. Many Europeans encounter difficulties using transport systems. Moreover, people with mobility handicaps – whether because of age or disability – make up a significant and growing part of Europe’s population. At the ministerial session in Lisbon in 2001, the Ministers of Transport approved the conclusions and recommendations of a report on transport policy and ageing of the population. The work on this topic is now fully integrated into that of the ECMT Working Group on Access and Inclusion in collaboration with the Working Group on Road Safety.

61.       Recent years have seen significant advances in many countries when it comes to improving access to transport for people with mobility handicaps and the elderly: there are stricter laws, more accessible buses, trams and trains and better travel information. These improvements in access benefit all travellers, reduce congestion, lessen social exclusion and keep people more mobile and in better contact with the community in which they live. Towards this end, ECMT Ministers in 1999 adopted a ‘Charter on Access to Transport Services and Infrastructure’, which underlined Europe’s political commitment to ensuring that all new transport infrastructure take into account the needs of people with reduced mobility.

      Road safety: the tragic toll must be reduced

62.       It is sad fact that, in the countries of the ECMT, over two million people are injured and 90 000 killed in road crashes every year. The situation in central and eastern Europe is worrying in that recent figures show that the number of accidents and victims is again increasing. While many actors and institutions can contribute to reducing accidents, what is often missing is concerted action between them. Ministers of Transport have a key role to play here. For over thirty years they have agreed policy approaches and measures in many areas. Over thirty formal ECMT decisions in road safety provide a solid basis for reductions in this tragic toll.

      Speed restrictions. Controls on drinking. Seatbelt use

63.       If all ECMT member countries had the accident rate of Sweden or Norway, over fifty thousand lives would be saved annually. Some of the most important steps that could be taken in all countries include speed restrictions, controls on drinking and seatbelt wearing, and, more generally, the creation of a safety climate through education and communication. The human factor is behind 95% of all accidents and it is here that efforts now need to focus. It is urgent to tackle this problem comprehensively in ensuring more efficient enforcement of existing laws.

64.        The European Commission is placing a priority on two initiatives: harmonisation of signposting for danger-spots and uniform regulations concerning controls and punishments for speeding and drink-driving17. The European Union has an objective of halving the number of victims by 2010.

Road safety objective for the next ten years

65.       In 2002 ECMT Ministers committed themselves to working in favour of a better implementation of key ECMT recommendations in the field of road safety. Ministers also reaffirmed their wish to develop a global vision by fixing more operational objectives at national and international level. Thus, the entire ECMT membership stated as their goal to reduce by 50% the number of people killed on the roads over the next ten years, thus sending out a clear political signal in favour of greater road safety. Ministers also agreed to engage in more intense cooperation to exchange information about best practices and to promote the adoption of road safety strategies on the basis of concrete measures and with the political commitment of all the ministries concerned in their respective countries, as well as the private sector.

66.       Within the context of this global approach to road safety, the ECMT Council of Ministers adopted a whole series of recommendations concerning road safety in the countryside. Accidents on such roads are in fact a serious problem, since they are responsible for about 60% of deaths in road accidents. In the past, this issue has not always received the same attention as accidents on motorways or in cities.

      Protecting vulnerable transport users

67.       The ECMT has issued numerous recommendations on ways of protecting vulnerable transport users. They concern road networks and signs, traffic management, driver information and training, the design of vehicles and on-board equipment, enforcement and penalties. More recently, the organisation has published three reports and resolutions on safety in road traffic for vulnerable users, such as cyclists, pedestrians and users of two-wheeled motorised vehicles (mopeds and motorcycles).

68.        These studies form part of a wider area of review which, in addition to road safety itself, takes into account the demographic trends in ECMT countries, notably population ageing, mobility, land use planning, the environment and public health. The measures recommended show that much remains to be done to ensure the safety of vulnerable users. The aim is not to promote a single model, but to develop strategies tailored to the specific features of each country.

      Countering crime in transport

69.       Several years ago the European Ministers of Transport expressed great concern about the sharp increase in criminal acts affecting international transport, especially fraud in the transit systems, the theft of vehicles and goods, and attacks on drivers. Since the adoption in 1997 of the comprehensive Resolution on Crime in International Transport significant progress has been made when it comes to understanding better the nature and extent of transport related crime. Information flows between the various bodies involved in the fight against crime has also been improved. In a Resolution of 1999 Ministers noted that crime is taking on new forms, including illegal immigration and human trafficking, and now affects all modes of transport. 

70.       The terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 have modified - probably once and for all - the approach to security in transport. The problem of terrorism in transport systems has become a major concern for Ministers of Transport. Transport systems – both the means of transport themselves and the large number of people that use them – are a potential target for terrorist attacks. The immediate concern is to provide an effective response to the terrorist threat. Minimising the risks of disturbance to the main transport systems is therefore a strategic objective, the economic and international aspects of which have yet to be assessed. Following the Ministerial Declaration on Combating Terrorism in Transport, adopted by the Ministers of the ECMT member and associate countries in Bucharest in 2002, the ECMT will, in conjunction with the OECD, provide support for risk and vulnerability assessments and study the ways and means of monitoring the movement of goods and containers in the various transport modes.

71.       In relation to the theft of goods and fraud in transit systems, the transport ministers ask that work be intensified to obtain comparable information on transport crime. Anti-theft devices and communication systems, which allow vehicles and wagons to be tracked, have to be brought quickly onto the market. Member countries should identify high-risk locations and situations, so that surveillance and checks can be better focused18. Moreover, the European Union and national customs administrations should complete the reform of the Community transit system, while the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe should finalise the revision of the TIR convention19.

72.       With regard to illegal immigration, national authorities should draw up regulations on the conduct of investigations and on ways to ensure that shippers’ and haulers’ vehicles are secure when being loaded or parked.


73.       Improving safety in tunnels is another important aspect in the development of the trans-European transport network, as a significant number of road and rail cross-border links will include major tunnel sections, sometimes exceeding 50 kilometres. This concern has taken on a special dimension after the tragic accidents in Mont-Blanc and Tauern tunnels in 1999 and in the Saint-Gothard tunnel in 2001.

74.        The re-examination of existing safety arrangements in many Europe’s tunnels has revealed a number of weaknesses. Notably, the existing infrastructure in some parts suffers from problems of old age (80% of rail tunnels were constructed in the 19th century) or has difficulty in coping with the growth in traffic. Moreover, differing national legislation on safety in tunnels and poorly co-ordinated work of operating teams on either side of borders where tunnels start and end increase the risk of accidents.

75.       Because the majority of European tunnels are situated in the countries of the European Union and because major new projects comprising tunnel sections receive Community funding, the European Commission needs to pay special attention to guaranteeing a high level of safety for the users of tunnels. The Rapporteur cannot but support a proposal that consideration be given to the issuing of a directive on the harmonisation of minimum safety standards across the European Union, as is suggested in the European Commission’s 2001 White Paper on the European transport policy for 2010.

76.       The Alps – a major transport hub – represent a singular challenge. With 100 million tons of goods and 80 million travellers transiting every year through the Alps, 44% of east-west exchanges pass through the Alpine region with its particularly dense network of tunnels. Yet the transalpine traffic is not as smooth as it could be. The Swiss-EU dialogue aims to reconcile the objectives of environmental protection and greater fluidity of traffic, by giving priority to a massive transfer of freight movements from road to rail and thereby easing the kind of road congestion that undermines safety. The future Lyon-Turin transalpine rail link (to open in 2013/14), the Brenner project (to be operational by 2017/18), the new Saint Got hard (to open in 2012) and Lötschberg-Simplon (to open in 2007) rail tunnels go precisely in that direction. However, most of these links will not be completed until the next decade, and transporters are looking for appropriate solutions now. The temporary closure of the Mont-Blanc and the mainstream tunnels at Saint-Got hard indeed left them virtually stranded.

8.       Towards sustainable transport development policies

      Transport and the environment

77.       An efficient transport system is a crucial precondition for economic development and an asset in international competition. Personal mobility for work, study and leisure purposes is considered a key ingredient of modern life. The benefits of transport, however, come at a price. Not only is the building and maintenance of transport infrastructure a significant item in government spending and accidents a heavy social and personal cost, but nuisances from noise and air pollution also represent considerable environmental liabilities. Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from transport are a major contributor to the greenhouse effect. Road transport is currently the greatest offender, accounting for 80% of CO2 emissions from transport and 60% of total nitrogen oxides emissions. Routine and accidental releases of oil or chemical substances into the environment by lorries and tankers contribute to the pollution of soils, rivers, lakes and seas. Some Europe’s regions – such as the Alps – are particularly sensitive to these emissions.

78.       Today, the general public is highly sensitive to these issues and media coverage of them remains intense, especially following the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and the 2002 Johannesburg Summit on Sustainable Development. Taking practical steps towards sustainable development and balancing the social costs and benefits of transport are also constant concerns of the ECMT, which regularly takes up transport-environment issues. Its recent recommendations and resolutions cover

such areas as reducing CO2 emissions from vehicles, internalisation of the external costs of transport, ending the use of leaded petrol and providing incentives to replace old vehicles with newer less polluting ones.

79.       The focus of recent efforts to control CO2 emissions from vehicles has been on reducing the fuel consumption of new passenger cars. The car manufacturing industry and the ECMT have been monitoring fuel consumption and CO2 emissions under a Joint Agreement of 199520. Furthermore, in 1998, the European automobile industry signed a voluntary agreement with the European Commission to reduce the average fuel consumption of new passenger cars sold in the EU 25% by 2008. This agreement committed governments to supply an adequate policy framework for encouraging the development of new information technology applications in road traffic, and to provide incentives for car fleet renewal, as well as ensuring effective maintenance and inspection of vehicles. The automobile industry, for its part, agreed to develop more fuel-efficient vehicles and emphasize fuel efficiency in marketing. The former includes in particular effective steps forward in the areas of natural gas, electric and hybrid vehicles, alternative fuels (such as hydrogen), engine technology (like common rail injection), and research on light materials to reduce vehicle weight.

80.       However, as the full effects of these improvements will take some time to be felt (fleet renewal takes a decade on average in the Union), a number of non-product measures influencing consumer behaviour could be taken to reduce pollutant emissions in the short term. Such measures are regularly analysed by the ECMT (for example the 2000 Ministerial Conference on “smart” measures for reducing CO2 emissions) and this work continues in co-operation with the automobile industry and the International Energy Agency. Few countries have, however, developed focused strategies for CO2 abatement in transport. It is in this direction that national authorities should orient their action.

      Tariffs and internalisation of external transport costs

81.        For many years, the ECMT has been looking at the social costs of transport and the measures to be taken to make the transport system more efficient. This work has often been undertaken in close co-operation with the institutions of the European Union and at present there is a joint study with the European Commission on the effects of optimising transport costs. The ECMT Council of Ministers has already stated its views on the tariff, tax and financial policies to be adopted in two resolutions, contributing to the preparation of the anticipated European framework-directive on tariffs in transport. The ECMT Ministers are advocating a gradual adaptation of tariff systems in order to strengthen the economic signals on the short-term social costs for users of transport infrastructures, with differentiated cost and tax levels depending on the environmental impact and with a preference for territorially-based charging (for example electronic tolls and kilometre charges). This work is also looking at reforms aimed at avoiding discrimination in international transport and the impact of taxation on international competition between road haulage companies.

      Urban travel and sustainable development

82.       While some national authorities and municipalities have successfully introduced ‘traffic-calming’ measures in a number of cities in order to reduce speed, casualties and emissions and make these areas more attractive and better suited to the needs of pedestrians and cyclists, the majority of cities are still largely dominated by road traffic. Unless rigorous counter-measures are taken, an overall doubling of car and goods traffic in many ECMT countries over the next 30 to 40 years will suffocate many of our towns and cities. The problem of traffic increase in the outskirts and suburbs of towns and cities is of particular concern. The urban future looks even gloomier given uncertainties with regard to the wider problems of energy consumption and global warming from CO2 emissions.

83.       Difficult decisions need to be made. Land-use, public transportation, transport policies, parking facilities, travel habits, pricing mechanisms and traffic management – will all have to improve. Governments will have to pursue sustainable development by acting on a wide front and over a long period of time. International organisations can do much to exert pressure and set standards and targets, which might in some cases be more stringent than individual countries on their own would be willing to introduce. As countries and individual cities are competing for trade and investment, evidence is gathering that a good urban environment is becoming a distinct competitive advantage.

84.       Back in 1995, the OECD and ECMT jointly proposed a three-pronged policy package that, if consistently applied, could reconcile urban travel with sustainable development. The OECD/ECMT joint group has concluded that an integrated approach combining the dissemination of best practice, innovations and the application of a gradually increasing fuel tax to reduce the number of kilometres travelled and fuel consumption is the best way forward. The present international situation, characterised by uncertainty about the future supply and price of petroleum products, also illustrates the need to take a more integrated approach.

85.       The adoption and spreading of ‘best practices’ would involve the wider use of tried and tested measures for land-use and transport planning, traffic management and the improvement of public transport, while ‘innovative policies’ could extend to congestion pricing, restrictive access to city-centres by car, bus priorities, bio-fuels, ’car sharing’ practices and park-and-ride services.

9.       Conclusions: European transport in the future

      Market. Sustainable development. Social cohesion

86.       Transport policies in Europe are evolving as a result of the growing acceptance that market mechanisms must be at the heart of the system – with governments establishing quality standards and the regulatory framework. International co-operation is needed to agree on any international rules, ensure co-ordinated investment strategies and eliminate barriers to the efficient operation of markets. Essentially, transport policies must meet three challenges: those posed by the needs of a modern economy, those of sustainable development and those of a society which is inclusive for all its citizens. Managing transport demand and influencing modal split (balance between different modes of transport) - through regulatory, fiscal and structural measures – remains a challenge in order to permit economic growth to proceed without a parallel increase in the demand for transport.

      The ECMT and the promotion of pan-European transport

87.       The ECMT, representing virtually all European countries as well as several non-European OECD countries, has accomplished much to promote pan-European transport policies in numerous fields. In the almost fifty years of its existence, the ECMT has agreed on over 200 resolutions, recommendations and guidelines and encouraged the signature of two milestone international agreements. ECMT governments have shown willingness to pursue market-oriented policies, promoting liberalisation and competition while addressing environmental and safety problems.

      Promoting “best practices” and “innovative policies”

88.       Cities are looking for policies that limit car use and encourage the use of public transport and non-motorised modes. Pedestrian areas and high parking charges are the main measures used in most cities. Land-use, public transportation, parking facilities and traffic management have to improve, and high standards on road safety, environment and the social aspects of transport should be observed. In this context, the promotion of ‘best practices’ and ‘innovative policies’ such as congestion pricing, restrictive access to city-centres by car, priority for public transport, the use of biofuels, ’car sharing’ and park-and-ride services should be pursued.

      Improving road safety

89.       Road safety remains a major concern. Of all modes of transport, traffic accidents on roads are the most perilous and the most costly21 in human and societal terms. Despite significant improvement achieved since the 1970s, the situation has since remained more or less steady in western Europe while that in eastern Europe began to deteriorate after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Lower alcohol limits, stricter enforcement of speed restrictions, more frequent roadside checks, technical improvements to vehicles, road safety audits and improved driving behaviour are necessary to enhance road safety. Driving license requirements, signposting, controls and penalties should be harmonised among countries, starting with the European Union. Broader deployment of innovative technologies for traffic management and collision-avoidance systems for vehicles also have potential. The likely impact of drug-use by drivers on traffic accidents needs to be studied urgently.

      CO2 reduction. Reappraisal of investment

90.       Concerns over environmental hazards are growing. Stricter environmental standards for vehicles and fuels, improved environmental appraisal of investments and better CO2 abatement techniques are needed.

91.       The use of railways and urban public transport should be encouraged. Fiscal instruments and pricing to influence transport choices by households and firms should be used and there should be more effective enforcement of noise and emission standards and speed limits. As in many of these areas political responsibilities are split between authorities at different levels of government or between different ministries, better co-ordination is needed.

      Opening up of the markets without compromising on safety and the environment

92.       For the countries of central and eastern Europe, trade is particularly vital for their still fragile economic development. More trade implies more international transport. This in turn requires good infrastructure and efficient transport services. While infrastructure is a priority for many countries, better institutional management can also bring good results. Reducing delays at border-crossings is one example. Market liberalisation is essential but it must not be carried out in such a way as to distort competition, harm the environment or compromise safety.

93.       Rail reform is also important. Significant gains in productivity and efficiency are required for railways to regain competitiveness vis-à-vis road transport. The lack of a logistical approach to freight transport and the absence of price/cost linkages threaten the long-term survival of rail companies. Revitalising railways requires ambitious measures and government departments should act with greater determination. Priority should be given to opening up railways to competition and establishing greater interoperability between networks and systems, better cost and traffic management, more commercial objectives, a separation between railway infrastructure management and the provision of railway transport services, as well as to the further development of high-speed rail networks and upgrades of existing infrastructure, while bearing in mind safety standards.

94.       Public transport will continue to play an important role in providing mobility for a large segment of the population. Maintaining it will require determined action. Improving the efficiency of public sector management must also be an objective of government policy. Finally, inter-modal information (for instance in the form of timetables) and co-ordination are important to make public transport more attractive. The European Commission has recently proposed the opening up of public transport markets to a degree of competition while guaranteeing transparency, quality and performance.

      Short-sea shipping and inland waterway transport

95.       Short-sea shipping and inland waterways are often a realistic alternative to land transport if their competitiveness can be further increased. They are comparatively safe and reliable, and can be used to carry chemicals and heavy industrial commodities over long distances. Continued effort must be made to improve safety in transporting such goods which may be considered dangerous. At pan-European level, shipping links (inland waterways and especially short-sea shipping) can provide an alternative to the bottlenecks in land transport across the Alps and the Pyrenees. At national level, shipping routes can be a useful complement for certain countries. Europe has a

dense network of rivers, canals and ports and it deserves greater attention from policy makers. If north-south shipping can be increased – for instance by providing rail access to ports – this could ease road congestion.

      Making European and national policies complementary

96.       More and more transport is being regulated at international level, notably through a number of intergovernmental organisations. Finding the right compromise between European transport policies and national ones is not an easy task. It is vital for Europe, with a European Union about to undergo major enlargement, to succeed in developing a pan-European transport system. Effective co-operation between the Community institutions of the European Union and the intergovernmental framework of the ECMT is essential in order to build up such a sustainable and competitive transport system.

Reporting committee: Committee on Economic Affairs and Development

Reference to committee: Standing Mandate

Draft resolution and draft recommendation unanimously adopted by the committee on 11 March 2003.

Members of the committee: Mrs Zapfl-Helbling (Chairperson), Mr Kirilov, ZZ …, Mrs Burbiene (Vice-chairpersons), Mr Açikgöz, Mr Adam, Mr Agius, Mr Agramunt, Mr I. Aliyev, Mr Anacoreta Correia, Mr Andov, Mr Arnau, Mr Assis Miranda, Mr Ates, Mr Berceanu, Mr Braun, Mr Brunhart, Mr Budin, Mr Çavusoglu, Mr Cosarciuc, Mr Crema, Mr Djupedal, Mr Duivesteijn, Mr Elo, Mr Eyskens, Mr Figel, Mr Floros, Mr Galchenko (Alternate: Ms Yarygina), Mr Galoyan, Ms Griffiths, Mr Grignon, Mr Gusenbauer, Ms Hakl (Alternate: Mr Grissemann), Mr Haupert, Mr Högmark, Mr Jonas, Mr Kacin, Mrs Kestelijn-Sierens, Mr Klympush, Mr Korobeynikov, Mr Kraus, Mr Lachnit, Mr Le Guen, Mr Leibrecht, Mr Liapis, Mr Makhachev, Mr Masseret, Mr Melcak, Mr Mikkelsen, Ms Milicevic, Mr Naumov, Mr Öhman, Mr O’Keeffe (Alternate: Mr Mooney), Mrs Patarkalishvili, Mrs Pericleous-Papadopoulos, Mrs Pintat Rossell, Mr Podgorski, Mr Popa, Mr Puche, Mrs Ragnarsdottir, Mr Ramponi, Mr Reimann (Alternate: Mr Frey), Mr Riccardi, Mr Rivolta, Lord Russell-Johnston, Mr Rybak, Mr Schreiner, Mr Severin, Mr Seyidov, Mr Slakteris, Ms Smith, Mr Stefanov, Mr Tepshi, Mr Torbar, Mrs Vadai, Mr Voog, Mr Walter, Mr Wielowieyski, Mr Wikinski, Mr Zhevago (Alternate: Mr Poroshenko), Mr Zvonar.

N.B. The names of those members present at the meeting are printed in italics

Head of Secretariat: Mr Torbiörn

Co-Secretaries to the committee: M. Bertozzi, Ms Ramanauskaite and Ms Kopaçi-Di Michele

1 Albania, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, the Russian Federation, Serbia and Montenegro, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

2 Resolution 1186 (1999) and Doc. 8170,

3 Resolution 1252 (2001) and Doc. 9011

4 The push to build new infrastructure often upsets the allocation of available financial resources, especially with regard to the maintenance, repair and even use of existing infrastructure. Among the causes behind premature deterioration of infrastructure, the excess in vehicle load weight and an irrational distribution of load weight figure prominently.

5 Statistics published by the IATA (International Air Transport Association)

6 ECMT statistics show that over 95% of transport fatalities are generated by road transport in the EU.

7 Excepting the CIS area.

8 Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Moldova, Romania, Slovenia, Turkey, and “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”

9 Memorandum of Understanding on the Facilitation of International Road Transport of Goods in the SECI Region, was concluded in Athens (April 1999) under the South-East European Cooperative Initiative (SECI), with the support of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN/ECE) and the ECMT, and assisted by the SECI supporting States (Russian Federation and the United States of America) and the European Commission.

10 See doc. 9638, Rapporteur : Baroness Hooper (United Kingdom, EDG)

11 ECMT licenses are multilateral licenses for the international carriage of goods by road in an ECMT member country, on the basis of a quota system, the transport operations being performed between ECMT member countries and in transit through the territory of one or several ECMT member country(ies) by vehicles registered in an ECMT Member country. They are not valid for transport operations between a member country and a third country (non ECMT member country).

12 The European Agreement concerning the Work of Crews of Vehicles Engaged in International Road Transport (AETR) of 1 July 1970, Geneva.

13 EBRD Transition report 2001

14 A total of 8 Danube bridges in Serbia and Montenegro were damaged during the NATO bombardment of that country in the spring of 1999. In November 1999, the EU European Council recognised the urgency of re-establishing unhampered navigation on the Danube, stating that it was ready to examine possibilities of co-financing the clearing of destroyed bridges.

15 This programme is foreseen to become operational in 2003 and run until 2010.

16 Multi-modal transport is the carriage of goods by at least two different modes of transport whereas combined transport is the inter-modal transport of goods in one and the same loading unit using for the major part of the journey rail, inland waterways or sea and for any initial and/or final leg using road for as short a distance as possible.

17 Drug-use is a growing concern but data on the extent of the problem are lacking as the presence of drugs in blood is not systematically examined even in fatal accidents.

18 Thus we could avoid better major disruptions in international traffic, as nearly happened in December 2002, when the TIR guarantee coverage in Russia risked suspension due to the high level of customs fraud committed by organised crime.

19 The TIR Convention, used in 62 countries in Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East, allows road transport operators to cross borders in international and transit traffic without major procedures and costs. The application of the Convention provides for an internationally recognised and accepted Customs transit regime with an internationally standardised and secured Customs document (TIR Carnet), an international guarantee cover in case of irregularities and harmonized Customs procedures, in most cases, limited to a standard visual external control of the sealed load compartment of the lorry and processing of the TIR Carnet. The TIR Customs transit system is supervised by an intergovernmental machinery, the TIR Executive Board and its TIR secretariat, located at UNECE headquarters in Geneva (Transport Division).

20 A Declaration on Reducing Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Passenger Vehicles in ECMT Countries was agreed with ACEA and OICA (the European and world automobile manufacturers associations)

21 According to EU estimates, the directly measurable cost of road accidents in the EU is about € 45 billion while indirect costs are two to four times higher. This would place the annual figure at around € 160 billion, or at 2% of EU GDP.