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Commissioner Kinnock outlines transport strategy for Central and East European accession

Mr. Neil Kinnock, Commissioner responsible for transport, has warned that integration of Central and East European countries' transport systems needs to progress now, or a complete breakdown in the system will follow their accession to the EU. Mr. Kinnock was speaking to the E...

Mr. Neil Kinnock, Commissioner responsible for transport, has warned that integration of Central and East European countries' transport systems needs to progress now, or a complete breakdown in the system will follow their accession to the EU. Mr. Kinnock was speaking to the European Parliament's Committee on Transport and Tourism in Brussels on 4 June 1996. As nine countries have now concluded Europe Agreements, and the EU is committed to their accession, the full involvement of these countries in transport planning will be the key to ensuring the creation of a genuine multimodal transport network across an enlarged EU. According to Mr. Kinnock, their involvement is essential in three key areas of transport policy: - The creation of physical transport links. This is developing through the pan-European transport conferences and more recently in the Transport Infrastructure Needs Assessment (TINA), launched on 7 May 1996. The major pressure on this development is finance, and part of the process is the stimulation of new forms of funding from the private sector; - The implementation of the "acquis communautaire", the body of existing EC regulation, so as to allow the free movement of people and goods and to ensure Community safety standards are fully implemented; - Participation in the development of future Community transport policies, both at ministerial and lower levels. This participation should not be seen as a replacement for internal Community discussions, but as a complementary tool in meeting the challenge of enlargement. The Commissioner emphasized that Community transport policy must not end at the borders of the candidate states and that the EU's Partnership and Cooperation Agreements with the former Soviet Union must contain transport provisions similar to those of the Europe Agreements. Transport agreements are also being negotiated with former Yugoslavia, in a similar form to the agreement with Slovenia, already in force. The European Conference of Transport Ministers and the third pan-European transport conference in 1997 will also make a valuable contribution to European transport policy. Finally, Mr. Kinnock said that the social aspects of transport policy must be central to the extension of transport policies into the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, as the social problems stemming from enlargement in the candidate countries will be enormous. The EU must work towards increased cooperation, so that the necessary measures are taken before enlargement.