17 January 1994
on the 38th and 39th annual reports of the
European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT)1
(Rapporteur: Mr MÉSZÁROS,
Hungary, Group of the European People's Party)
1. As usual, the 38th and 39th annual reports of the European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT) — covering the years 1991 and 1992 — were referred to the Committee on the Environment, Regional Planning and Local Authorities for an opinion.
In accordance with its mandate, the committee focused its attention on the sectors of activity relating to :
—ge neral transport policy in Europe (co-operation with central and eastern Europe, and guidelines for future transport policies in an enlarged Europe);—
—- combined transport, development of waterways;
— transport and environment.
2. Furthermore, the committee is expected to give an opinion on the part of the report of Mr Efraimoglou concerning integrated planning of trunk communication routes with central and eastern Europe. The opinion presents the committee's position on the two themes.
3. The committee follows with great attention all questions relating to European transport policies and, especially to the aspects linked with regional planning and environment. For example, the committee organised recently the Second Interparliamentary Conference on the Environment on the theme "Protection and management of the Danube Basin" (Regensburg, 14-16 October 1993) and in this context the role of the Danube as a waterway was thoroughly discussed.
On the other hand, answering a request from the European Parliament Committee on Transport, the committee gave its opinion (AS/Loc (44) 62 revised, Rapporteur: Mr Zierer) on the "White paper" of the European Community Commission on a common transport policy.
4. Concerning the relations of the ECMT with central and eastern Europe, the committee welcomes the development in this framework of a direct co-operation with these countries. Since the Council of Ministers meeting of 22 November 1992, ten countries with economies in transition joined the ECMT as full members. The Russian Federation and the Republic of Moldova received the observer status.
5. The direct involvement and participation of central and eastern Europe will certainly contribute to conceiving a future pan-European transport policy. The conclusions of the pan-European Transport Conference held in Prague in October 1991, and the guidelines for a future ECMT work programme given by their Council of Ministers at its Athens session (1992), underlined the need to draw up an adequate infrastructure network for Europe, to develop intermodal and combined transport, to ensure protection of the environment ... The Council of Ministers also emphasised "... the need to define certain common principles prior to the establishment of an all-European transport policy."
6. The committee is very satisfied with this approach which is in line with the position concerning a future pan-European transport policy. This is why the committee will follow carefully the evolution and hopes that concrete results will be rehanced.
7. In fact, the previous definition of common principles is necessary to set up a uniform transport system operating in accordance with the principles of both an economic development and a regional planning policy respectful of the environment.
These principles will include in particular better co-operation between the different modes of transport, following an integrated approach in order to ensure a good articulation between the different modes and more efficient services in peripheral regions.
In the context of effective complementarity between the different means of transport, the connection between the maritime and fluvial transports needs special attention. Having in mind that the ships being used in the two cases are different, it is important to develop the use of containers in order to assurer an effective, complementary use of the two means.
On the other hand, in the specific case of peripherical regions, it is important not to forget their specificity in order to adapt the selected means of transport to the peculiar needs of the region in the best possible way, taking into account the need for their effective integration to the global development, both at national and European levels.
In the same spirit it is very important to support the necessary measures to promote transport policies which are respectful of the environment, through special incentives, for modes respecting the environment, as well as the application of new technologies in this field.
Priority must be given to the evaluation and internalisation of different costs, particularly taking into account the costs of damages caused to both the natural and built environment, and to public health, by several means of transport.
8. Concerning the waterways, your Rapporteur recalls the particular interest of the committee and of the Assembly for this mode of transport.
As Mr Zierer underlines in the committee's opinion on the European Transport Common Policy as well as in the report on the preservation and development of the Danube Basin, which he will present to the Assembly in this same debate, the waterways offer an interesting response to the problems represented by the classic and most usual modes of transport in terms of pollution, danger and costs. Anyway, it is very important not to forget that human intervention affecting rivers must be carried out very carefully in this respect in order to avoid possible catastrophical consequences — floods being a significant example.
Furthermore, the Danube is a strategic axis between the north-west and the south-east of Europe which can contribute to the development of the countries in transition and to their full integration into Greater Europe.
In this spirit the committee shares without reserves the position of the ECMT concerning the opportunities offered by the canal Rhine-Main-Danube. In fact, since its opening in September 1992 convoys of 3 500 tonne barges can carry goods from the North Sea to the Black Sea.
9. For these political, economical and ecological reasons, navigation on the Danube must be especially developed. Nevertheless, the development of other European waterways should not be neglected and the problems of other European rivers such as the Rhine, the Po, the Elbe should not be forgotten.
10. The discussions devoted to the problem of global warming at the Rio Conference clearly showed one of the main environmental threats of transport: the air pollution by CO2 and, consequently the liability of transport in global warming.
Following the data available, the part played by transport in the overall effect on global warming is estimated at 20% to 25% for the countries of western Europe. These dates explain the importance of the problem very well, mainly when we know that this proportion will be rising in the future years.
If we are conscious that attention has to be paid urgently to the negative effects of actual transport policies, it is also clear that possible solutions are not only difficult to find, but also complicated to implement because they call for important new measures.
11. Your Rapporteur wishes to mention the particular relationship between regional policies and transport and communication network development. Obviously, efficient and well developed communication networks constitute an important and basic element in a regional development policy, mainly in the peripheral, border and under-developed regions. Specific projects must be implemented in order to ensure the balanced development of these regions.
In this context, it is important to stress the necessity for the ECMT to give the same importance to the problem of the north-south axis since governments and international organisations are often tempted to favour the east-west component of international co-operation.
We share of course the point of view that co-operation with central and eastern European countries is a priority, but not the only priority. In fact, balanced development in all areas of Europe will certainly contribute to the development of the entire region.
12. Concerning more particularly the situation in central and eastern Europe, your Rapporteur shares the views expressed by Mr Efraimoglou in his report (Doc. 6978). The modernisation, reorganisation and privatisation of rail in this region calls for special attention and must be a priority in the transport policies of these countries.
Another problem in central and eastern Europe is the unsatisfactory situation of transport in the important urban centres and their suburbs. It is necessary to consider way to solve this problem which would include, inter alia, modernisation of networks, promotion of environmental friendly modes of transport, management of traffic etc.
13. Last but not least, your Rapporteur would like to raise two questions and reiterate the wishes formulated in many occasions by the committee.
Firstly, that questions relating to maritime transport be integrated into the work programme of the ECMT. In fact, many questions and problems raised for many years, particularly by the Parliamentary Assembly, still remain without answer. A new and stronger action in the context of the ECMT could produce more effects.
Secondly, it is regrettable tht the complex problem of transalpine traffic is not examined by ECMT with the necessary attention. In fact, this specific problem is only mentioned in the report in relation to the development of combined transport, but not in relation to the particularly serious problem of transalpine transit.
This question has often been raised by the Parliamentary Assembly, which noted with satisfaction the conclusion of an agreement between the European Community and the two countries involved, the Switzerland and Austria.
Mr Zierer pointed out the problem of transalpine transit in the committee's opinion on the European Commission's "White paper" on the future development of a common transport policy, and stated particularly ".... the committee would like to take this opportunity to express the wish that this agreement will not be modified in any way following changes in the relations between those countries and the EEC" and "But, the accession (of Austria) would imply also that, after the expiration, the agreement would be renewed."
Your Rapporteur thinks that it would certainly be useful if the ECMT supports the position of the committee on this question.
14. In conclusion, the committee, persuaded of the advantages of the integrated planning of the communication axis between west and east, underlines the responsibility of the belligerent in the former Yugoslavia, who have for years been blocking one of the major Balkan railroad axis, which had, in the past, linked south-east Europe with central and eastern Europe.
The policy of embargo, unfortunately necessary and declared by the United Nations in order to give an end to the conflict, causes also a paralysis of the exchanges beyond the Yugoslavian borders and damages the former Yugoslavia's fragile national economies, economies that would be much better off without supplementary difficulties.
Bosnia-Herzegovina's war is causing, besides human sacrifices and growing general insecurity, a massive regression of the transport policy, in total contradiction with a pan-European ideal.
Reporting committee: Committee on Economic Affairs and Development (Doc 6978).
Committee for opinion: Committee on the Environment, Regional Planning and Local Authorities.
References to committee: Doc. 6964 and Reference No. 1909 of 10 November 1993, Doc. 6714 and Reference No. 1828 of 5 November 1992, Doc. 6649 and Reference No. 1802 of 30 September 1992.
Draft opinion approved by the Committee on the Environment, Regional Planning and Local Authorities on 7 January 1994.
1 1 1. See Doc. 6978.