Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Programme funding

EUR 75 million

Official Journal Reference

L196 of 2003-08-02

Legislative Reference

1382/2003 of 2003-07-22

The Programme's objective is to reduce road congestion and to improve the environmental performance of the freight transport system within the Community and to enhance intermodality, thereby contributing to an efficient and sustainable transport system.

Abstract


The Commission proposal for a Parliament and Council Regulation setting up the Marco Polo programme was announced in the Commission White Paper "European transport policy for 2010: time to decide" of 12 September 2001.
Taking into account the positive experiences with the PACT programme, the Community should dispose of a practical and market-oriented instrument, which supports its fight against congestion in the road freight sector and its ambitious goals to improve the environmental performance of the transport system as a whole. The Commission proposal of 30 January 2002 intends to set up such an instrument.
The main goal of Marco Polo is to reduce road congestion and improve the environmental performance of the whole transport system by shifting freight from road transport to short sea, rail and inland waterway transport. The programme thus aims to support one essential transport policy direction outlined in the Commission White Paper "European transport policy for 2010: time to decide."
Marco Polo intends to support commercial actions in the market for freight transport services. It is therefore different from the support given through research and development programmes and the Trans-European Network programme. Marco Polo will foster modal shift projects in all segments of the freight market, not only in combined transport. The programme will also be able to fund actions involving countries, which are candidates to accession to the European Union. However, taking into account the principle of subsidiarity, it will focus in international, rather than national, projects.

Subdivision


Three main orientations are foreseen:

- Start-up support for new non-road freight transport services, which should be viable in the mid-term ("modal shift actions").
- Support for launching freight services or facilities of strategic European interest ("catalyst actions").
- Stimulating co-operative behaviour in the freight logistics market ("common learning actions").

The main objective of Marco Polo is to help shift an amount of cargo corresponding to the anticipated growth of international road haulage, to other modes. The programme will support the major policy initiatives in the freight sector foreseen for the horizon 2010, and should therefore be in place until that date. Mechanisms for flexibility will be introduced, which should allow reaction to changing market trends not foreseen today.

Implementation


The programme is composed of three instruments:
- Modal shift actions:
Aid to start-up services. Robust, but not innovative (just shift freight off road). Subsidy of 1€ per 500 tkm shifted. Minimum subsidy threshold 0.5 Mio€ (at least 250 million tkm shifted per contract). Subsidy rate up to 30% of eligible costs (Ancillary infrastructure up to 20% of subsidy). Subsidy up to 3 years. No distortions of competition in the relevant markets to an extend which damages the common interest. Viable after subsidy ends.
- Catalyst actions:
Overcome structural market barriers. Highly innovative (causing a real break through). Minimum subsidy threshold 1.5 Mio€. Subsidy rate up to 35% of eligible costs (Ancillary infrastructure up to 20% of subsidy). Subsidy up to 4 years. Dissemination of results. Mid-term review of each project. If required by a project: political support from EC. No distortions of competition in the relevant markets to an extend which damages the common interest. Viable after subsidy ends.
- Common learning actions:
Improve co-operation and sharing of know-how. Mutual training (coping with an increasingly complex transport and logistics market). Minimum subsidy threshold 0.25 Mio€. Subsidy rate up to 50% of eligible costs. Subsidy up to 2 years. Dissemination of results

Commercial enterprises in accession states, which are scheduled to be joining the EU in 2004, such as Poland, are wellcome to participate in the Marco Polo programme. However, according to financial arrangements during 2003 it is unlikely that project costs occuring on the territory of an accession state will be eligible for funding under Marco Polo in the 2003 selection round. Once being inside the EU standard EU Member States rules will apply.
Commercial enterprises in accession states, which are not joining the EU in 2004 and those from EFTA and EEA may also participate in Marco Polo, however cost arising on their territory can only be supported if Memoranda of Understanding between those countries and the EC are concluded for Marco Polo, which most likely will not be in time for the first selection round in 2003. For future selection rounds, e.g. in 2004, depends mainly on the political will and the initiative of each of those countries.

Remarks


The Commission proposal for a Parliament and Council Regulation setting up the Marco Polo programme was announced in the Commission White Paper "European transport policy for 2010: time to decide" of 12 September 2001.
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