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Minister Patrick Vlačič attends informal meeting of EU transport ministers in Budapest

The Hungarian EU Presidency organised an informal meeting of transport ministers of the European Union, which took place from 7 to 8 February 2011 in Gödöllő, near Budapest; the meeting was attended by the Slovenian Minister of Transport, Patrick Vlačič. The main topic of the informal ministerial meeting was the trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T network).

A review of Community guidelines for the development of the trans-European Transport Network is planned to be carried out within the European Union. The discussion at the meeting of transport ministers should provide the Commission with final political guidance for the preparation of the review of the Community guidelines planned to be carried out at the end of the first half of 2011. The transport ministers’ discussion focused on two segments:  the methodology for creating the future core trans-European Transport Network, and its financing.

During the discussions held to date, mostly in the form of conferences, the EU transport ministers came to the following conclusions in respect of the future TEN-T Network: transport infrastructure should be better coordinated with the actual needs of transport policy and transport services, and the long-term forecasts of transport flows; the future network, in particular the central (core) European transport network, should be developed on the basis of the existing projects and priority projects, thereby placing emphasis on cross-border sections, providing a trans-national integrated management and an appropriate balance (cohesion) between the West and the East as well as the central and peripheral regions of the European Union; the main objectives of network development should be its interconnection, interoperability, sustainability and safety; the European transport network must not terminate at the borders of the European Union, but it must be extended beyond the European Union into the (neighbouring) third countries.

The discussion held by the transport ministers was of great importance for the Republic of Slovenia.  With respect to the priority projects defined in the existing EU guidelines, the continued support of priority project no. 6 (Lyon–Trieste–Divača/Koper–Divača–Ljubljana–Budapest–Ukrainian border) and priority project no. 23 (motorway of the sea) are considered most important for Slovenia. Slovenia will also make every effort in the future to have the axis Munich–Salzburg–Ljubljana–Zagreb–Belgrade–Skopje–Thessaloniki and its branch to Istanbul increase in importance at the European level, an objective that the transport minister already highlighted at the recent conference at Brdo pri Kranju, where he said: ‘If we really wish to include the Western Balkan countries into common economic consolidation and integration, if we wish to strengthen the economic integration further to the East with the inclusion of Turkey, and if we wish to implement to the letter the cohesion policy among the EU Member States, EU candidate states, and the states clearly expressing their interest in EU membership, then we have to join forces to make the Munich–Salzburg–Ljubljana–Zagreb–Niš–Sofia–Istanbul axis part of the future EU priority network.’ The Slovenian windows into the world – the port of Koper and the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana – must obtain the status of hubs of European importance.
Within the future financing of the trans-European transport network, Slovenia advocates the option of cross-financing of transport infrastructure, as also stated by Minister Vlačič at the informal meeting, which means that resources generated by one mode of transport may be used for the construction of infrastructure of another mode of transport.

In the introductory part of the discussion at the informal meeting of EU transport ministers, Minister Vlačič drew attention to the basic starting points already highlighted by Slovenia in the contribution to the Green Paper: TEN-T Policy Review, of two years ago. It is of key importance, emphasised Minister Vlačič, ‘that we ensure continuity of the TEN-T network development. Therefore, I advocate the preservation of the existing priority projects within the future overall TEN-T network. We can support the division into a central and core network only on condition that the current priority projects would become the “backbone” of the future core network.’ He concluded, by saying ‘Slovenia supports the proposed methodology; we also wish to preserve priority projects and are not in favour of establishing parallel competitive corridors.’