European Commissioner for Regional Policy
Transport and Mobility across and in the Regions of Europe
Since 2014, the EU has a new transport infrastructure policy that connects the continent between East and West, North and South. This policy aims to close the gaps between Member States' transport networks and to remove the bottlenecks that still hamper the smooth functioning of the internal market, in order to boost the European economy and create new jobs. It promotes and strengthens seamless transport chains for passenger and freight, while keeping up with the latest technological trends.
In 2014-2020, EU investments will focus on the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), especially along its nine core corridors of high European added value.
Two sets of EU funding instruments make financial support available to projects implementing the TEN-T: the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), with a budget of 24 billion euro, and Regional Policy funds, i.e. the Cohesion Fund and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), with a total envelope of 70 billion euro to be invested throughout 2014-2020.
I say it often, better connectivity is crucial to Europe's economic competitiveness. Convenient road and rail connections, comfortable and environment-friendly public transport systems; these infrastructures have a great impact on the attractiveness of a territory for businesses and tourism, on the competitiveness of the local and national economy and on the quality of the people's everyday life.
In 2014-2020, Regional Policy will not only improve connectivity, but invest in the transport system of tomorrow, making it greener, cleaner and smarter. Out of the 70 billion euro envelope, almost 40 billion will be solely dedicated to low-carbon transport (rail, seaports, inland waterways) and sustainable urban mobility.
Regional Policy will therefore support enhanced multimodality and innovative technology to reduce road congestion, cut greenhouse gas emissions gases and boost transport safety and security. It will promote the shift towards more sustainable transport modes such as railways, public transport, cycling and walking in urban areas. And it will facilitate the use of intelligent transport systems and infrastructure using alternative fuels.
70% of the European population now lives in urban areas, and cities are hubs of growth and innovation but also homes to many challenges, not least poor air quality, congestion, noise or roads accidents. This is why increasing visibility and importance is given now to the urban dimension of EU transport policy.
Against this background, the Commission presented in December 2013 an Urban Mobility Package, which reinforced European action on urban mobility, called on local authorities to develop and implement Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans and invited Member States to provide national policy frameworks that would support local efforts for sustainable urban mobility more effectively.
Sustainable transport mobility will also be a priority under the upcoming EU Urban Agenda, which we are now consolidating in the context of the Dutch presidency of the Council. With stronger stakeholder involvement in the decision-making process on EU policies with an urban impact, with better benchmarking and exchanges of best practices and with further synergies between EU policies and funding instruments, we will make sure to maximise the impact of EU investments in urban transport systems.
To this end, it is crucial to make full use of the opportunities offered by the new Regional Policy framework for 2014-2020 and its enlarged scope for the use of financial instruments, in order to lever more private financing for projects.
In addition, European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, and I recently issued guidelines on how to best combine Regional Policy funds with the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of President Juncker's Investment Plan, in order to attract more private capitals and allow quality projects to quickly get off the ground.
This is particularly relevant in the fields of transport projects, which are often ambitious, forward-looking projects in need of both EU investments and private capitals to see the light of day.
In the next decade, Regional Policy will be a key enabler of a smart, modern transport system contributing to address the challenges of the EU real economy.