TENs plan to put ports on map

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Series Details Vol.3, No.40, 6.11.97, p4
Publication Date 06/11/1997
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Date: 06/11/1997

By Peter Chapman

THE European Commission is finalising a set of proposals aimed at boosting the involvement of ports and rail freight terminals in the EU's Trans-European Networks.

The move follows a demand from MEPs last year for the Commission to embellish its guidelines for 'interconnection points' linking different modes of transport in the EU's strategic TENs vision.

"The European Parliament insisted that the Commission should improve the guidelines for sea ports and interconnection points," explained an EU source, who said consultations had been held with industry before the summer break.

The Commission now plans to publish maps showing a broad range of EU sea ports which could be eligible for TENs funding in so-called 'projects of common interest'. This will supplement the guidelines which already exist for priority networks or 'corridors' of railways, roads and airports.

But while the Commission is pressing ahead with the maps scheme in response to Parliament pressure, member state and industry sources claim it is largely a cosmetic addition to the TENs system.

One UK official questioned the need for the port maps at all, saying: "They are just indicative. They show ports with 1 million tonnes of freight in a year or that carry 200,000 passengers, but that does not represent the only ports that are eligible for funding. Cash is allowed to go to any good projects."

The industry itself was reluctant to see the Commission draw up lists of priority ports similar to those which already exist for road and rail links, because ports compete fiercely with one another.

"If Le Havre and Rotterdam got priority and others didn't, then there would be an argument that it was anti-competitive and unfair," said one industry source.

The Commission's change of course will be coupled with proposals for favoured inland ports and rail terminals to be linked up with other 'nodes' on rail, road or air networks as part of a broader plan to allow freight to cross over from one means of transport to another via so-called 'interconnection points'.

"The previous transport guidelines only included lines and links, but with no detail on interconnection points. There is something missing. We want to make an 'intermodal' transport network and to do that it is a precondition to have these points," said an official. "The inland port proposals will focus on inland ports able to handle freight from road, rail or air."

The final piece of the Commission's latest TENs jigsaw will focus on building intermodal rail freight terminals on to the rail/road corridors being set up under the programme. Transport officials will seek the comments of other Commission departments before unveiling their proposals, probably at the end of this month.

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