The Transport Committee voted on the draft report tabled by Philip Bradbourn (EPP-ED, UK) on Community guidelines for the development of the trans-European transport network. Following the report last year on these guidelines by the High Level Group under Karel Van Miert, the Commission submitted to Parliament an amended proposal, adding nine new projects to those already adopted by the EP at its initial first reading. MEPs warmly backed the introduction of "motorways of the sea" to launch new regular
transnational cargo shipping lines.
These routes are intended to improve links with islands and enable goods traffic to avoid natural barriers such as the Alps and the Pyrenees. Member States will, with Community assistance, support packages involving infrastructure, logistic systems and start-up aid. The "motorways of the sea" will thus acquire the same importance as road motorways and railways in the trans-European network.
In their amendments to the Commission's text, MEPs are demanding a clear list of priority programmes in the context of enlargement and the future Financial Perspective. Other amendments adopted seek to modify some of the 29 projects in Annex III of the proposal. In addition, the committee insists that Parliament should be consulted on a number of points under the codecision procedure. One of these is the appointment of a European coordinator, whose role will be to assist with certain projects of European interest. Another is the Quick Start Programme, adopted by the Transport Council adopted in December 2003, which identified a number of component projects chosen from within the TENs 29 corridors (cross-border projects) on which Community funding is to be focused over the next three years. Although Commission TREN Director-General Lamoureux had earlier tried to convince MEPs that the Quick Start Program was not legally binding, several of them complained that the EP had not been formally consulted under the codecision procedure. Committee chairman Paolo Costa (ELDR, I) will put an oral question to Council at the Brussels plenary session of Wednesday 25 February on the failure to consult Parliament on the Quick Start projects.