Answer given by Mr Hahn on behalf of the Commission
1. The Commission was not officially notified by Poland about such plans and learnt of them through media reports. The Commission then raised the issue in bilateral meetings with the Polish authorities (Ministry of Transport, the infrastructure manager) and expressed its concerns. The Polish authorities justified the closures principally on budgetary grounds (savings due to no/minimal traffic on the sections concerned). The issue is still evolving and the infrastructure manager is ready to reassess its plans in view of developments.
2. Cohesion policy rules require that projects benefitting from European funding should not undergo a substantial modification within five years of their completion. Therefore, closure of lines which have received EU co-financing for modernisation or revitalisation within such timeframe could signify a breach of the rules. However, the Polish authorities have indicated that the plan for line closures does not include projects which are receiving or have received EU co-financing.
The Commission underlines the importance of a sound strategic approach towards the investments supported by the EU funds and aims at increased funding earmarked for rail projects in the new financial perspective. Furthermore, the Commission is also prepared to address — in addition to major investments in the TEN-T rail network — the need for investments in important regional feeder lines in the form of revitalisation projects. Some of the lines in question might therefore be able to receive co-funding by the EU.
OJ C 12 E, 16/01/2014