EU Transport Projects' Next Challenge Is Member States ({{commentsTotal}})

Source: Photo: ERR

At the Ten-T Days forum in Tallinn yesterday, the European Commission revealed the EU's most extensive plans yet for developing and connecting transport networks across the continent.

Leading up to the year 2030, the commission's plan aims to connect 94 European ports with rail and road links and 38 airports with rail links to major cities. It also aims to convert 15,000 kilometers of railroads to give them the capacity for high-speed travel. The projects directly affecting Estonia are Rail Baltic, Via Baltica, the coordination of ice-breaking capabilities of Tallinn, Helsinki and Stockholm ports, and the coordination of the technical resources.

Speaking to ETV, European Commissioner for Transport Siim Kallas said: "None of these projects will be financed 100 percent [by the EU]. The biggest co-financing is in the case of cohesion countries, which comprises Estonia, where the project can be financed up to 85 percent. Otherwise, as a rule, 20 percent of financing comes from the European budget."

The commission's plan already has the support of the European Parliament, but the main problem is how individual EU member states will respond politically.

"One of the problems we've always had in transport in the European Union is that member states look at transport in purely nationalistic terms rather than on a pan-European basis. And what the Ten-T does is it gives the basis to try and make sure that we're thinking European-wide, not just national-wide," said Brian Simpson, chairman of the European Parliament's Committee on Transport.