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Outline transport network for applicant countries takes shape

An outline transport network for the Central and Eastern European countries and Cyprus which have applied to join the EU has now been identified. Neil Kinnock, the EU's Transport Commissioner welcomed the achievement of this significant stage in the development of a common Eur...
An outline transport network for the Central and Eastern European countries and Cyprus which have applied to join the EU has now been identified. Neil Kinnock, the EU's Transport Commissioner welcomed the achievement of this significant stage in the development of a common European transport strategy involving the EU and the applicant countries. The outline has been drawn up by the Commission and the governments concerned, with coordination through the Transport Infrastructure Needs Assessment (TINA) framework.

The network, which will link to the trans-European Transport Network (TENs) in the EU, will comprise both new and upgraded infrastructure, in order to create a coherent network of transport links and achieve safe and speedy connections between countries, necessary to increase the efficiency of the Single Market and to maximise the potential of European trade.

The present outline network comprises 18,030 km of road, 20,290 km of railway line, 38 airports, 13 seaports, and 49 river ports. The total cost of completing this network is estimated at nearly ECU 90,000 million between now and the year 2015, a substantial amount of which will come from the countries themselves.

The EU will also intensify its financial support through the PHARE programme, in particular through the recent introduction of a new large infrastructure facility. Further funding will also be available, from the year 2000 onwards, through the new Instrument for Pre-accession Aid (ISPA), which the Commission has proposed should contribute ECU 500 million annually to transport infrastructure development. International institutions will also play a role, notably the European Investment Bank's pre-accession facility, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

The proposals formulated by the TINA group will be discussed by senior officials from the EU and the applicant countries during a meeting in Vienna, Austria, on 25 and 26 June 1998. The next step for the TINA group will be to examine the specific projects and assess their relative priority according to a range of environmental, technical, financial and economic criteria. To assist this process, the Commission will organize a series of public consultations later in 1998, in order to ensure that there is broad understanding on the need to develop the necessary transport infrastructure.

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