Revision of the Regulation on the trans-European transport network (TEN-T)

In “A European Green Deal”

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The Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) policy develops a Europe-wide network of railway lines, roads, inland waterways, maritime shipping routes, ports, airports and railroad terminals. The ultimate objective is to close gaps, remove bottlenecks and technical barriers, as well as to strengthen social, economic and territorial cohesion in the EU. The current TEN-T policy is based on Regulation (EU) No 1315/2013. Through several revisions, the policy has coped with growing transport demand, several EU enlargements and evolving transport policy challenges (e.g. liberalisation, standardisation, technological innovation).

The Commission started the current TEN-T review process in April 2019 with an evaluation of the existing TEN-T Regulation together with an Open Public Consultation. This consultation took place between April and July 2019. Commissioner Vălean presented the main lines of the TEN-T revision process to the European Parliament on 23 June 2020. A consultation as part of the impact assessment is planned for autumn 2020. 

In line with the Action Plan included in the Commission's Communication on the European Green Deal, a legislative proposal for a revision of the TEN-T Regulation was planned in the third quarter of 2021. The Commission ran a public consultation on its revision roadmap between 20 November and 18 December 2020.

The EP TRAN Committee prepared a report under the lead of Jens Gieseke (EPP, Germany). After being approved in the TRAN Committee in December 2020,  the report received strong support in the EP plenary and was adopted on 20 January 2021 via remote voting.

The report stressed the importance of consolidating the competences of the European coordinators. It calls on Member States to fulfil their obligations and on the Commission to play a stronger role. It argues that for the timely completion of the core network by 2030, the existing design of the core network should be maintained, allowing only for small changes. The rapporteur also stressed the need to integrate rural, peripheral and outermost areas into the network by 2050 and argued for the connection with the United Kingdom to continue, provided that the country continues to participate in funding.

The Commission's public consultation on the revised guidelines closed on 5 May 2021. On 26 May 2021, the Commission published the results of its evaluation of the Regulation.

On 14 December 2021, it published the revised proposal. Some of the key elements concern:

- introduction of a new intermediary deadline of 2040 to advance the completion of major parts of the comprehensive network, such as some high-speed rail links Porto-Vigo and Budapest-Bucharest ('extended core network');

- new standards for transport links, such as a minimum speed of 160 kilometers per hour for passenger rail and 100 km/h for freight;

- rail: reduced waiting times at border crossings, longer freight trains, transport of lorries by train along the network;

- rail freight corridors are to be integrated into the TEN-T corridors, to create nine ‘European Transport Corridors’ that integrate rail, road, and waterways.

- increased number of transhipment terminals and their handling capacity,

- good navigation status ensured on inland waterways for a minimum number of days per year;

- 424 major cities on the TEN-T network will have to develop Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans that promote zero-emission transport and the greening of the urban fleet, by 2025.

In the Council, the proposal is being analysed by the Working Party on Transport - Intermodal Questions and Networks.

In the European Parliament, the Committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN) takes the lead on the file, the rapporteurs appointed are Barbara Thaler (EPP, Austria) and  Dominique Riquet (Renew Europe, France).

The subsidiarity deadline was 25 April 2022. On 8 June 2022 the French Senate has submitted a reasoned opinion.

The European Economic and Social Committee has issued an opinion on 23 March 2022.

On 27 July 2022 the European Commission presented an amended proposal that takes into account the modified geopolitical context. This amended proposal aims to introduce the following changes to the legislative proposal of 14 December 2021:

  • as an immediate response to the requested action communicated in the ‘Solidarity Lanes’ Communication, an extension of four European Transport Corridors to Ukraine and Moldova is proposed,
  • an orientation towards and expansion of the trans-European transport network in Russia and Belarus is no longer valid or desirable, these countries will therefore removed from the indicative map.
  • improved cross-border connections to Russia and Belarus are no longer of high priority on the territory of EU Member States,
  • it is proposed, for all Member States with a land rail connection with other Member States, to include a requirement to develop all new TEN-T railway lines with a European standard nominal track gauge of 1 435 mm and also to develop a migration plan towards this European standard nominal track gauge for all existing lines of the European Transport Corridors

On 10 October, the TRAN Commitee published its draft report. The report focuses on the following elements:

- An increased ambition for standards and requirements, with limited exemptions - Standards and requirements for each mode have been strengthened to an extent realistically achievable by Member States and in order to meet Union’s transport objectives. Transport investments should be appreciated not only in terms of costs, but as an economic catalyser enabling long-term growth while contributing to achieve Union’s climate targets.

- Urban nodes -  Provisions have been introduced to ensure that capacity bottlenecks and insufficient connectivity within urban nodes do not hamper multimodality along the TEN-T, while fully taking into account the divers challenges of each urban node and the principle of subsidiarity.

- Smart and innovative infrastructure - Digitalisation is not an end in itself. It makes transport and especially multimodality more accessible, efficient and affordable for citizens and businesses. Moreover, it contributes substantially to improving the safety and sustainability of our transport system while also enabling the responsible authorities to better enforce European common rules.

-  Resilience, military mobility and strategic autonomy - TEN-T should be future-proof. Given the new geopolitical context or climate and environmental conditions, provisions have been included to increase the long-term security and resilience of the transport infrastructure. Considerations on the strategic autonomy that represent some critical transport infrastructure have also been introduced.

- Cooperation with third countries - Following the Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, and the position adopted by Belarus in that conflict, cooperation with third countries has been updated to take into account this new geopolitical landscape, by cutting ties with Russia & Belarus and enhancing partnership with Ukraine & Moldova

- Maintenance - Maintenance is key to ensure high-quality, modern, smart and resilient infrastructure. However, too often maintenance is not properly provided nor included at the earliest stage of a project planning and through its life-time. Provisions on maintenance have been included to address further this issue

- Reinforced European priorities - One of the main threats of missing the deadline of completion of the core network by 2030 is the misalignment between national transport plans and investments with the European priorities. To address this issue, the rapporteurs strengthen the coherence between those, as well as the conditionality between European funding with European priorities in terms of transport infrastructure deployment.  

- Governance - Governance tools have to be reinforced in order to ensure a coherent deployment and timely completion of the TEN-T. To do so, reporting and monitoring instruments have been strengthened, including the role of the European Coordinators and their work plans, as well as provisions to prevent significant delays on the starting or completing work on the networks.

On 6 December 2022, the Council adopted its general approach. The general approach intends to set the following deadlines: for the completion of the TEN-T the core network should be completed by 2030, the newly added extended core network by 2040 and the comprehensive network by 2050. Concerning trains, the text provides for minimum speeds that can be achieved on certain parts of the TEN-T (for instance at least 160 km/h for passenger trains on 75% of the sections connecting urban nodes and 100 km/h for freight trains on at least 90% of these sections).The text sets minimum thresholds for the length of trains that freight terminals should be able to accommodate. In order to harmonise EU rules and in the light of Russia’s war on Ukraine, the text provides for the establishment of standard rail track gauge as a norm for the TEN-T and towards Ukraine and Moldova. A section of the text is dedicated to the European Transport Corridors between the EU and Moldova and Ukraine.



Further reading:

Author: Monika Kiss, Members' Research Service,

As of 15/12/2022.