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Committee of the Regions wants more resources for TENs

The Committee of the Regions (COR) wants programmes chosen for trans-European networks (TENs) to be given increased resources where they contribute in a significant way to growth, employment and the spread of new technology, according to its opinion on the "Proposal for a Coun...
The Committee of the Regions (COR) wants programmes chosen for trans-European networks (TENs) to be given increased resources where they contribute in a significant way to growth, employment and the spread of new technology, according to its opinion on the "Proposal for a Council Regulation (EC) amending Regulation (EC) No 2236/95 laying down general rules for the granting of Community financial aid in the field of trans-European networks".

The development of the TENs is high priority for the European Union. This was stated in the Maastricht Treaty and in the 1993 Commission White Paper, which pinpointed the development of the TENs as one of the key instruments for growth, competitiveness and employment. In Agenda 2000 the importance of the networks is once again stressed.

The further expansion of the TENs contributes to sustainable development and the creation of stronger links between the different regions. The network also creates links with the candidate countries in central and Eastern Europe.

In general, COR believes the programmes chosen should be given increased resources where they contribute in a significant way to growth, employment and the spread of new technology. This applies especially to research and innovation, education, development of environmentally friendly technology and support to big and small companies.

COR also believes that the development of the TENs is one of the most obvious and active ways of tying the regions of the Community together. Insofar as it is based on national, regional and local networks, it creates a climate for favourable economic development in all parts of the Union and therefore contributes to high, evenly distributed prosperity in all Member States.

To find out how the Regulations have worked so far, the Commission prepared a short report. This evaluation is based on the practical experience of the Commission, the Member States and private operators in the last three years.

The report gives details of expenditure and activity, the various methods of financial intervention, and criteria for the selection and evaluation of projects in the three areas of transport, energy and telecommunications TENs.

COR believes that enlarged budget frames are fully justified by the great importance of the TENs for cohesion within the Union and for increasing competitiveness and creating employment.

Concerning the multiannual planning, COR's opinion is that implementation of an "indicative multiannual programme" is the most important revision and will bring big advantages for the applicants and, at the same time, facilitate administration of the applications. COR also points out that it is important for the Commission to take into consideration how local and regional interests should be consulted during the planning process.

COR also wants to stress that TENs infrastructure must complement the development of regional and local infrastructure and transport systems which connect with it. This will promote intermodality and public transport systems that are sustainable, efficient and environmentally friendly.

The economic and financial situation of the Member States has meant that the rate of public investment has fallen, with transport infrastructure being one of the worst-affected sectors. At the same time as this fall in public investment, traffic and vehicle numbers have continued to rocket. This imbalance between supply and demand has highlighted and intensified the externalities in the transport sector, especially the social cost of congestion, the environmental impact and accidents.

In view of these circumstances and the need to tap new financial resources to make good the infrastructural deficit, COR concluded that we must seek new and more flexible financing formulae and schemes, creating conditions that will attract the participation of the private sector and mobilize capital.

Source: Official Journal of the European Communities

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