Common Transport Policy

Common Transport Policy in Europe

Transport Policy in general

The transport sector, which accounts for 7% of GDP, 7% of employment, 40% of Member States’ investment and 30% of EU energy consumption, clearly plays a key role. Over the past 20 years, intra-Community demand for transport has grown almost continuously, with 3% annual growth for goods and 2% for passengers. The EC Treaty initially provided for the obligation to implement a common transport policy. A Court of Justice decision (1985) was nevertheless required before the Council finally decided to adopt measures organising the free movement of services in this sector. Significant work to liberalise transport has been carried out since 1988.

The European Commission completed the transport sector’s objectives set out above in its December 1998 communication. The objectives were to promote the working of the internal market, construct trans-European networks and connect the infrastructures of EU candidate countries to the systems existing within the Europe of the 15. The Commission encourages public-private partnerships (PPP) in the area of trans-European networks.

In September 2001, the European Commission submitted its White Paper “European transport policy for 2010: time to decide”. This document sets out 60 measures to nurture the development of transport while ensuring its efficiency, good quality and safety. The European Commission is particularly keen to encourage modes of transport other than road transport, such as coastal navigation (short sea shipping), internal navigation and rail transport. It will also step up the Galilee project, a global satellite navigation system destined to become the industry standard for the 21st century in this field.

Description of Common Transport Policy

The Concise Encyclopedia of the European Union describes common transport policy in the following terms: [1] The Treaty of Rome envisages a common transport policy, but not in language specific enough to presuppose any particular course of action. In 1982 the European Parliament brought proceedings against the Council of Ministers for failure to carry out its Treaty obligations in the transport area. The Court of Justice delivered a split ruling: it supported the Parliament in limited respects, based on general principles, but it held that the common transport policy itself was too vague to be relied on in a court of law.

There followed a variety of Commission initiatives – on road safety, on frontier documents, on commercial lorries, on rail links, on infrastructure (trans-European networks), on safety at sea, on liberalisation of air fares, on state airline monopolies, and so forth. Each of these, however, could be dealt with as single market legislation or under EU competition policy, and although many aspects of transport are well suited to supranational governance (air traffic control in Europe, for example, is notoriously chaotic), it remains the case that a comprehensive common transport policy is unlikely to take shape unless the EU becomes a fully federal entity.


Notas y References

  1. Based on the book “A Concise Encyclopedia of the European Union from Aachen to Zollverein”, by Rodney Leach (Profile Books; London)

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