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Procedure : 2017/2285(INI)
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Document selected : A8-0136/2018

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PV 02/05/2018 - 24
CRE 02/05/2018 - 24

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PV 03/05/2018 - 7.11
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Thursday, 3 May 2018 - Brussels
Cohesion policy and thematic objective ‘promoting sustainable transport and removing bottlenecks in key network infrastructures’

European Parliament resolution of 3 May 2018 on the implementation of cohesion policy and the thematic objective of ‘promoting sustainable transport and removing bottlenecks in key network infrastructures’ – Article 9(7) of the Common Provisions Regulation (2017/2285(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to cohesion policy and the thematic objective of ‘promoting sustainable transport and removing bottlenecks in key network infrastructures’ – Article 9(7) of the Common Provisions Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013(1),

–  having regard to the Common Provisions Regulation, Article 37 on financial instruments supported by ESI Funds,

–  having regard to the European Regional Development Fund Regulation (EU) No 1301/2013, Article 5(7) on promoting sustainable transport and removing bottlenecks in key network infrastructures(2),

–  having regard to the Cohesion Fund Regulation (EU) No 1300/2013, Article 4(d) on promoting sustainable transport and removing bottlenecks in key network infrastructures(3),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1315/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 on Union guidelines for the development of the trans-European transport network and repealing Decision No 661/2010/EU(4),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1316/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 establishing the Connecting Europe Facility, amending Regulation (EU) No 913/2010 and repealing Regulations (EC) No 680/2007 and (EC) No 67/2010(5),

–  having regard to Decision No 1386/2013/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 November 2013 on a General Union Environment Action Programme to 2020 ‘Living well, within the limits of our planet’(6),

–  having regard its resolution of 13 March 2018 on lagging regions in the EU(7),

–  having regard to its resolution of 6 July 2017 on promoting cohesion and development in the outermost regions of the EU: implementation of Article 349 of the TFEU(8),

–  having regard to its resolution of 18 May 2017 on the right funding mix for Europe’s regions: balancing financial instruments and grants in EU cohesion policy(9),

–  having regard to its resolution of 9 September 2015 on the implementation of the 2011 White Paper on Transport: taking stock and the way forward towards sustainable mobility(10),

–  having regard to its resolution of 22 April 2009 on the Green Paper on the future of TEN-T policy(11),

–  having regard to the Commission’s Seventh Report on economic, social and territorial cohesion of 9 October 2017 entitled ‘My Region, My Europe, Our Future’ (COM(2017)0583),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 6 February 2018 entitled ‘A credible enlargement perspective for and enhanced EU engagement with the Western Balkans’ (COM(2018)0065),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 24 October 2017 entitled ‘A stronger and renewed strategic partnership with the EU’s outermost regions’ (COM(2017)0623),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 20 September 2017 entitled ‘Boosting growth and cohesion in EU border regions’ (COM(2017)0534),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 17 December 2013 entitled ‘Together towards competitive and resource-efficient urban mobility’ (COM(2013)0913),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 8 March 2011 entitled ‘A Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050’ (COM(2011)0112),

–  having regard to the Commission White Paper of 28 March 2011 entitled ‘Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system’ (COM(2011)0144),

–  having regard to the Commission Green Paper of 4 February 2009 entitled ‘TEN-T: A policy review – Towards a better integrated Transeuropean transport network at the service of the common transport policy’ (COM(2009)0044),

–  having regard to Commission synthesis report of August 2016 entitled ‘Work Package 1: Ex post evaluation of Cohesion Policy programmes 2007-2013, focusing on the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund (CF)’,

–  having regard to Commission synthesis report of June 2016 entitled ‘Regional development trends in the EU – Work Package 1: Ex post evaluation of Cohesion Policy programmes 2007-2013, focusing on the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund (CF)’,

–  having regard to Commission final report of May 2016 entitled ‘Work Package 5: Ex post evaluation of Cohesion Policy programmes 2007-2013, focusing on the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund (CF)’,

–  having regard to Commission staff working document of 10 April 2017 entitled ‘Competitiveness in low-income and low-growth regions: The lagging regions report’ (SWD(2017)0132),

–  having regard to Commission working document of 4 May 2010 entitled ‘Consultation on the future trans-European transport network policy’ (COM(2010)0212),

–  having regard to the European Environment Agency report entitled ‘Approximated European Union greenhouse gas inventory: Proxy GHG emission estimates for 2016’,

–  having regard to the study entitled ‘The world is changing, transport, too’, commissioned by Parliament’s Directorate-General for Internal Policies, Policy Department B: Structural and Cohesion Policies, March 2016,

–  having regard to the study entitled ‘The future of the EU’s transport infrastructure’, commissioned by Parliament’s Directorate-General for Internal Policies, Policy Department B: Structural and Cohesion Policies, January 2010,

–  having regard to the Eurostat statistical book of 2016 entitled ‘Energy, transport and environment indicators – 2016 edition’,

–  having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure, as well as Article 1(1)(e) of, and Annex 3 to, the decision of the Conference of Presidents of 12 December 2002 on the procedure for granting authorisation to draw up own-initiative reports,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Regional Development and the opinion of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (A8-0136/2018),

A.  whereas thematic concentration, aimed at increasing the effectiveness of the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds) and supporting regions’ efforts towards implementing the Europe 2020 strategy, has purposely focused investments under thematic objective 7 on improving the quality of transport infrastructure, including the efficient use of existing infrastructure;

B.  whereas the CF and the ERDF provide support for the development of both the TEN-T network and regional and local transport infrastructure not located on the TEN-T, in particular in less developed Member States and regions where considerable effort is still needed to close missing links, remove bottlenecks and modernise rolling stock;

C.  whereas the transport sector and the infrastructure for that sector are central and essential to the development of any country, as well as to the wellbeing of the Member States’ populations, which is why the transport sector remains a key investment area contributing to growth, competitiveness and development by boosting the economic potential of every EU region, thereby furthering economic and social cohesion, supporting the internal market and by so doing facilitating cohesion, integration and social and economic inclusion, countering imbalances between regions, facilitating access to services and training in the most remote regions currently at risk of depopulation, and strengthening business start-up and development networks;

D.  whereas in the 2007-2013 period, EUR 81 billion, or almost one third (31 %) of the ESI Funds was invested in transport infrastructure; whereas the strongest positive impact of EU transport infrastructure investment is particularly and more specifically visible in Central and Eastern Europe, to which 69 % of the total transport funding was allocated;

E.  whereas the 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework is marked by increased ESI Funds and Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) budgets; whereas, despite the adverse effects of the recent economic and financial crisis and the delayed implementation of the programming period, there is no major impact on transport investments; whereas EU transport infrastructure investments are one of the policies that provide the highest EU added value due to the spill-over effects within, inter alia, the single market, which effectively make all Member States net beneficiaries of the investment;

F.  whereas success stories involving road, rail and port projects backed by the EU budget contribute to the economy, growth, industry, export, tourism, trade, job creation, the revival of regions and reversal of depopulation trends; whereas there are examples of EU added value such as the modernisation of railway line E30/C-E30 from Kraków to Rzeszow in Poland, the Sofia to Plovdiv railway in Bulgaria, the Leipzig City Rail Tunnel (Modules 5 and 6) in Germany, the track modernisation from Votice to Benešov u Prahy in the Czech Republic, the reconstruction of Ülemiste Junction in Tallinn, Estonia, the rehabilitation of national road DN6 from Alexandria to Craiova in Romania, the Madrid to Valencia-Murcia high‑speed railway in Spain, the completion of Trakia motorway from Sofia to the Black Sea port of Burgas, Budapest Metro Line 4 in Hungary, the Sofia Metro Lines in Bulgaria and many more;

G.  whereas TEN-T and transport infrastructure such as road, (high-speed) rail investments, waterways and air are EU priorities, and if European investments were to lag behind, increased FDI could fill the gap while relocating profits, taxes and job opportunities outside of the EU, perhaps increasing the dependence and macroeconomic instability of the regions; whereas such a process would undermine the Union’s regional presence and policies in the long term and would lead to fragmentation and divergence;

H.  whereas the development of the Core Network Corridors includes a number of integral components such as alternative fuels infrastructure (charging equipment) and intelligent and innovative transport systems, and plays an essential role as an enabler of the decarbonisation of the transport system as a whole;

I.  whereas smart, future-proof, sustainable and fully interconnected transport, energy and digital networks are a necessary condition for the completion and smooth operation of the European single market and for linking Europe with the world market; whereas these are genuine arteries for European economic productivity growth, territorial cohesion and the wellbeing of its citizens;

J.  whereas a more integrated approach to investments in transport infrastructure will remove bottlenecks, improve multimodal connectivity and increase investments in shifts from road to rail, as well as in environmentally friendly vehicles such as, for example electric vehicles, as well as rail and waterways; whereas this will lead towards energy diversification in transport and greener transport networks, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality, and stimulating further actions to fight climate change;

K.  whereas transport is an important building block in the EU’s energy-climate policy, and whereas the EU’s targets for the minimum share of renewable energy and for reducing greenhouse gas emissions cannot be reached without a significant contribution from transport;

1.  Underlines that the CEF, the CF and the ERDF should remain the core EU sources for transport infrastructure investments under the thematic objective of ‘promoting sustainable transport and removing bottlenecks in key network infrastructures’ in the next programming period; proposes that, due to the high European added value and the extensive spill-over effects generated, these funding sources should remain available and provide balanced coverage for all EU Member States and regions in order to contribute to the implementation of EU cohesion policy;

2.  Notes that the intervention logic behind EU transport infrastructure investment should remain a well-balanced construction of centrally managed and shared management sources in order to address policy and funding needs; recalls that the CEF aims to address centrally the EU-wide priority of core TEN-T corridors, including safety, technological innovation and environmental aspects; recalls also that the ERDF and CF have a strong regional dimension that responds to local demand (urban and peri-urban areas) and regional specifics; points out that they support the connectivity to TEN-T and mobility through secondary and tertiary nodes and multimodal terminals (comprehensive TEN-T network); underlines, in this context, that the relevant budgetary envelopes for the three funding sources need to be strengthened in a balanced manner in order to avoid asymmetric distribution of investment between the levels; calls on the Commission to facilitate simplified, timely and flexible procedures for the transferability of resources between regions, operational programmes and programme axes under ESI Funds in order to adequately respond to the changing economic reality and regional demand;

3.  Considers that the role of additional sources such as the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) and financial instruments needs to be defined in view of their complementarity to the ERDF and CF and their additionality to EIB lending operations; notes that the 2017 CEF Transport Blending Call has also been designed to strengthen those synergies, but also the exchange of best practices between Member States and that further support for capacity is needed; highlights in this regard that EFSI should serve as a platform for public-private partnerships (PPPs) in matching financial instruments to private investment and to national/regional financing at project level; notes that bankable infrastructure projects should primarily be supported by loans, EU guarantees or blending, in addition to ERDF, CF or CEF funding; believes, however, that grants should continue to be the main financial source of investment for funding sustainable public transport;

4.  Notes that infrastructure requires objective ex ante quantification of demand and future needs prior to setting the budget and the delivery methods; underlines that it should be possible within these key network infrastructure objectives for the ERDF and CF eligibility criteria to consider existing demand at an appropriate territorial level; notes also that cross‑European, regional and local transport network modelling can be effective in demonstrating where investment would best deliver European added value;

5.  Calls on the Commission, with the aim of promoting sustainable transport and removing bottlenecks in key network infrastructures, to draw up a checklist of eligibility criteria, which better expresses local and regional needs concerning transport infrastructure, in order to help determine the overall transport envelope, the investments needed, and the priorities to be set; notes the importance of taking as a basis the data from the EU Transport Scoreboard, which is of high quality, reliable, up‑to‑date, structured and available; notes, furthermore, that this checklist can include issues such as multimodal connectivity, local and regional specifics, the availability of alternative modes of transport, road and rail safety, and environmental impact;

6.  Notes the need for more integrated investment in basic transport infrastructures in less developed regions, as well as in mountainous, remote, depopulated or outermost regions with low accessibility to be targeted more intensively by ERDF, CEF and CF transport infrastructure investments after EU added value has been provided by an adequate cost-benefit analysis, and the need to improve work on multimodal connectivity; emphasises that improving accessibility in these regions is a precondition for economic development; calls on the Commission and the Member States – via a public consultation prior to project implementation – to encourage more active public sector involvement in transport solutions at national, regional but also at local/urban and rural level with the aim of developing optimal transport investments;

7.  Notes that sustainable innovations in transport require synergies and additionality between the three main instruments – ESI Funds, CEF and Horizon 2020 as well as its successor;

8.  Calls for ERDF support to European Territorial Cooperation to be strengthened through additional resources, focusing on key sustainable transport infrastructure investments (such as cross-border waterways, ports, bridges, railways, interconnecting transport modes and terminals, etc.); understands that the focus should be on connectivity in cross-border regions, including EU external borders, advisory assistance and capacity building at project level; calls for barriers to be dismantled in order to facilitate investments, and notably cross-border investments (in waterways, rail and road transport) and access to external markets;

9.  Calls for the closing of the transport infrastructure gaps with the Western Balkans in relation to integrated transport projects by focusing on further investment in connectivity and on tackling transport bottlenecks, particularly in view of the Commission’s communication on the European perspective for the Western Balkans; recalls, in this context, the importance of European Territorial Cooperation and the macro-regional strategies for integrated transport projects, while taking note of the need to better coordinate transport plans and projects with the aim of closing transport gaps, e.g. with the Western Balkans; further recalls in this context that seaports and waterways are very often cross-border entities and should benefit from the same co-financing rate as cross-border rail and road projects;

10.  Emphasises the need to integrate climate protection into cohesion policy in relation to the sustainable transport objective, hence pursuing the EU’s objectives to reduce CO2 emissions; calls on the Commission to require the Member States to integrate EU environmental legislation into the process of adopting and planning projects eligible for funding, particularly Natura 2000, strategic environmental assessments, the environmental impact assessment, air quality, the Water Framework Directive, the Habitats and Birds Directives, and the European Environmental Agency’s Transport and Environment Reporting Mechanism (TERM);

11.  Emphasises that more support should be given to promoting smart traffic management, including through digitalisation, by making more efficient use of existing infrastructure and redirecting towards off-peak times;

12.  Calls for an adequate and ambitious common European transport policy based on a funding framework that is integrated and coordinated with the EU transport instruments; considers that thematic concentration should be preserved in order to permit simplification and synergies between different funding sources at project level; proposes the creation of a single set of rules for all financing sources related to all thematic objectives; considers it necessary to streamline, standardise and accelerate public procurement and state aid compliance procedures;

13.  Invites the Commission and the Member States to continue the co-financing of projects in the next programming period in accordance with the ‘use it or lose it’ principle;

14.  Welcomes the work of the Joint Assistance to Support Projects in European Regions (JASPERS), the European Public-Private Partnership Expertise Centre (EPEC) and the European Investment Advisory Hub (EIAH); expects, however, that the transport infrastructure operations of the EIB Group within the EU devote significantly more resources to providing comprehensive advisory assistance to local, regional and national authorities at an earlier stage in the identification and pre-assessment of projects with EU added value;

15.  Calls on the Commission, in the framework of the new Regulation(s) on post-2020 cohesion policy, to propose a greater earmarking of the funds available for cities to bid jointly for infrastructure or technologies that would contribute to decarbonising urban transport and reducing air pollution from road vehicles;

16.  Supports the allocation of adequate resources for research, programmes and projects promoting road safety in Europe, in line with the Valletta Declaration on Road Safety;

17.  Stresses the need to ensure that resources are made available to support sustainable urban mobility, the development of intelligent transport systems, projects for cyclists and pedestrians and improved accessibility to transport for persons with a disability;

18.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the European Committee of the Regions, the European Economic and Social Committee and the governments and national and regional parliaments of the Member States.

(1) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 320.
(2) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 289.
(3) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 281.
(4) OJ L 348, 20.12.2013, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 348, 20.12.2013, p. 129.
(6) OJ L 354, 28.12.2013, p. 171.
(7) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2018)0067.
(8) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0316.
(9) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0222.
(10) OJ C 316, 22.9.2017, p. 155.
(11) OJ C 184 E, 8.7.2010, p. 35.

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