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Tentacles of Europe

  • February 2nd, 2007
  • Posted by 7thmin

eu-flag-reduced.pngWith now 27 member countries located across the map of North, South, Eastern and Western Europe, the EU has begun focusing on extending its system into neighbouring regions – this week setting out plans for transport networks.

It has issued a memorandum for public debate, titled Guidelines for Transport in Europe and Neighbouring Regions, which says that the neighbours need to adjust their systems to EU standards.

The argument rests on the fact that Europe and its neighbours get large percentages of their trade income from one another, and should transport goods and products in an efficient, money-saving way.

The document concentrates on five main “transnational axes” , being routes extending from outlying regions, broadly towards cities in Germany:

  • Sea routes especially in the Baltic.
  • A Northern route from Russia and Belarus through Poland.
  • A Central route through the Ukraine.
  • A South-eastern axis from the Middle East through Turkey and the Balkans.
  • A South-western axis apporoaching from Morocco and taking in mountain crossings into Switzerland – a non-EU state.

The European Union two years ago started convening discussions with 27 neighbouring countries, and international banking authorities, on plans for building and paying for new systems.

It wants to achieve:

  • “Interoperability” of other systems with systems in the EU, e.g. operation of railway networks and their signalling systems.
  • Stepping up border crossing procedures, with introduction of “one stop” posts like those of the EU.
  • Implementation of new technologies as used in the EU, e.g. traffic management and information systems, and the forthcoming Galileo satellite navigation system.
  • Transport Safety measures.
  • “Application of international conventions, social and environmental impact assessment, etc in accordance with the EU standards”.

It posits major savings; for example, average freight train journeys between Berlin and Moscow currently take twelve days and the EU wants that brought down to four days.

It has signalled that it is prepared to contribute heavily towards extending its system far afield.

The memorandum says the transport plan will cost EU 45-billlion ( A$ 72.88-billion; Dcerates), and EU35-billion (A$ 55.68-billion) of that “should be found by 2020”.

Those doing the finding for what is admitted to be an “ambitious plan” would look to “all relevant sources of funding, from public and private as well as national and international sources”.

Like the Energy System?

Similar proposals have been mooted by the EU for extending its system to neighbouring states, in the energy field; proposing joint investment and European engagement in exploration and drilling for oil and gas, uranium mining, pipelines, powerhouses and electricity grids.

The scheme was slowed down last October when Russia’s President Vladimir Putin told European leaders, (at their summit in Lahti, Finland), he was in no hurry to ratify the standing EU-Russia accord on energy development.

He has sought to turn some of his country’s new-found economic strengths, with higher oil prices, to advantage, appropriating more control and ownership of major projects for Russian interests.

Reference: Guidelines for Transport in Europe and Neighbouring Regions: Extension of the major trans-European transport axes to the neighbouring countries and regions; European Commission, DG Energy and Transport, Brussels. 31.1.07