Improvements in maximising the use of EU funding are needed to reduce disparities in infrastructure developments between Central and Eastern Europe and the rest of the EU, MEPs say in an own-initiative report voted in the Transport and Tourism committee on Monday. EU member states and the European Commission should focus on completing the TEN-T corridors, bridging missing links, removing bottlenecks and improve connections between different modes of transport.

So far most of the transport infrastructure projects planned to be financed by European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) are found in Western Europe and use of EU funds has not been maximised, transport MEPs note in the report on improving the connection and accessibility of the transport infrastructure in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), adopted with 28 votes in favour, 4 against and 2 abstentions.


Capacity building and technical assistance is needed and the Commission should encourage investors to support project platforms to focus on CEE transport infrastructure projects, they say.


Member states and the Commission should ensure synergies of EU funding instruments to improve their use in infrastructure projects in CEE.

 

Intensify work on ongoing projects and TEN-T corridors

 

Joining up the trans-European transport (TEN-T) network is an important basis for the economic growth of regional centres, and development of cross-border road and rail connections and removing bottlenecks and bridging missing links is essential, MEPs say. Use of EU funds must reflect the real investment needs for completing the TEN-T core network, they stress.


Projects such as Via Carpathia and Rail Baltica as well as developing TEN-T core network corridors would provide an important boost to improving connectivity and accessibility stimulating investment and business growth, MEPs say. Equal attention should be paid to east-west and north-south transport corridors of the TEN-T network.


Improve connections between transport modes

 

Improving connections between different transport modes would help reduce prices for passengers and freight transport and address ecological and social concerns and develop trade and tourism, MEPs say.


Maritime ports and airports best serve economic development of CEE if they are hubs in an integrated multimodal transport system interconnected with rail infrastructure.


To further boost investment potential of eastern regions of the EU, MEPs ask member states to ensure continuous navigability of inland waterways and good multimodal connections with inland waterways


Modernise existing transport infrastructure

 

In addition to new infrastructure, EU investment should support modernisation of existing road and rail infrastructures.


There has been underinvestment in cross-border rail lines and urgent modernisation of rail networks in CEE is needed to prevent future deterioration, MEPs say, emphasizing the potential of jobs, reductions in climate impact and air pollution in a better functioning railways sector.


Quality of road infrastructure has a direct impact on road safety, say MEPs, and add that road safety and the needs of cyclists should be assessed when constructing and modernising roads. They underline the need to ensure fair road charging systems in the EU and add that these systems should be designed in cooperation with the business community and commercial road users.


While highlighting the contribution that regional airports make to increasing the attractiveness of their regions, and their contribution to economic growth and tourism, MEPs call for economic viability and sustainability of new facilities to be duly assessed when using EU funds.


Next steps

 

The draft resolution now needs to be voted by the full house of the Parliament.