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European Commission Proposes New Projects and New Funds to Dynamise Europe

European Commission Proposes New Projects and New Funds to Dynamise EuropeThe European Commission proposed on 1st October adapting the guidelines for the trans-European transport network (TEN-T) to the dimensions of the enlarged European Union. A series of priority projects should be declared to be of European interest. The extension of the major routes to the future member states should help to make enlargement a success and provide the Union with a new opportunity to reduce congestion and encourage intermodality. This proposal, which follows up the report by the high-level group on the TEN-T chaired by Mr Karel Van Miert, goes hand in hand with a parallel proposal to amend the rules on financial aid for the TEN-T in order to allow a higher rate of co-funding for the cross-border sections of the priority projects. This package is part of the European growth initiative designed to mobilise new investment in the trans-European networks and in research, development and innovation in order to boost the competitiveness of the Union.In addition to the publication of a new list of priority projects, the Commission also proposed that these projects should be declared of European interest. Declaring the priority projects to be of European interest will make it easier to grant financing from aid for the trans-European networks, the Cohesion Fund and the Structural Funds. In particular, the new financing rules propose increasing the co-funding rate from 10% to 30% (compared with 20% in the earlier proposals) for the cross-border sections of the priority projects. This should provide a greater incentive for implementation of projects like public-private partnerships.The estimated cost of carrying out all these projects will be around €220 billion by 2020, €80 billion of which will go to the more mature projects by 2006. Some 20% of the total amount could be raised from the private sector and the rest will have to come from the national and Community budgets. The total cost of completion of the trans-European transport network, including the projects of common interest not identified as priority projects, will add up to €600 billion. Implementation of the priority projects should produce time savings worth €8 billion a year, help to reduce the growing pollution due to transport, contribute to more balanced spatial development and boost the growth potential of the Union.Several priority projects declared to be of European interest require extensive tunnelling. Among these are the Berlin-Verona-Milan-Bologna-Naples-Messina railway line with the Brenner base tunnel (55 km); the Madrid-Barcelona-Perpignan high speed line with a 8.7 km cross-border tunnel under the Perthus Pass; the Lyon-Turin high speed line with the Mont d'Ambin base tunnel (52.7 km), the Bussoleno tunnel (12 km) and the Venaus exploratory tunnel (10 km); or the new high-capacity rail link across the Pyrenees with a base tunnel under the Vignemale (20 to 40 km in length). Read E-News Weekly 28/2003. Visit http://europa.eu.int/comm/ten/transport/revision/hlg_en.htm 42/03.