Original publication: August 2016
Author: Christina Ratcliff, Research Administrator
Short link to this post: http://bit.ly/2JerAsH
This overview of the transport and tourism sectors in the Czech Republic was prepared to provide information for the mission of the Transport and Tourism Committee to the country in 2016 (19-22 September).
The Czech Republic is one of the few landlocked EU Member States, situated in Central Europe and created in 1993 when Czechoslovakia split into two separate states: the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The country is bordered by four other EU Member States: Austria, Germany, Poland and Slovakia. Its total area is 78.8 thousand km2 and in 2015 its population was estimated at 10.512 million inhabitants.
The country became a member of the EU on the 1st of May 2004, and is also a Schengen Area member since 2007. The political system is a parliamentary republic and, although the currency is still the Czech koruna (CZK), the Czech Republic is currently preparing to adopt the euro.
The most important sectors of the Czech Republic’s economy in 2014 were industry (32.6%), wholesale and retail trade, transport, accommodation and food services (17.9%) and public administration, defence, education, human health and social work activities (14.9%).
The Czech Republic has experienced a strong economic recovery since 2014, which has given rise to significant improvements in the labour market and the country’s unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the EU (please see Table 1). Transport enterprises are growing and hiring in the Czech Republic, with two percentage points of employees hired above the EU average. The country also scores highly in the share of women employed in transport, taking the second place in the EU with 28%.
According to the International Transport Forum, the Czech Republic spent the equivalent of 1,067 million euros on inland transport infrastructure in 2014, an investment which represents 0.7% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Transport companies’ expenditure in R&D corresponds to only 1.5 ‰ of Czech GDP.
2. GENERAL TRANSPORT
2.1. Renewable Energy in Transport
For all EU Member States, Directive 2009/28/EC (the Renewable Energy Directive) imposes a common target of 10% for the share of renewable energy in the transport sector to be achieved by 2020. In 2014, the share of energy from renewable sources in the Czech Republic’s transport sector was 6.1%. Yet the energy and carbon intensity of the Czech economy remains high and the transport infrastructure and energy efficiency gaps vis-à-vis the EU remain wide.
In the Czech Republic, the main support scheme for renewable energy sources used in transport is a quota system. This scheme obliges companies importing or producing petrol or diesel to ensure that biofuels (which are exempt from consumption tax) make up a defined percentage of their annual fuel sales. Furthermore, the Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for the renewable energy from biomass of agricultural origin and the country’s legislation supports the obligatory blending of biocontents in the transport fuels.
The number of new passenger vehicles using alternative fuels is below the EU average, yet tax exemption in the Czech Republic is granted to electricity used for passenger and freight transport by rail, tramway and trolleybuses.
2.2. Innovative Technological Solutions in Transport
According to the Czech government, the use and implementation of a modern transport management system and traffic regulation, information systems, GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite Systems) and Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) must all become an integral part of the development of transport. These innovative technological solutions will help achieve the Czech Republic’s main transport policy objectives, which include ensuring the connection of different modes (including barrier-free transport links) and increasing traffic safety.
The Czech Republic is home to the European GNSS Agency, also known as the GSA, which is based in Prague. The GSA’s mission is to support EU objectives and achieve the highest return on European GNSS investment, in terms of benefits to users, as well as economic growth and competitiveness. In terms of transport, GNSS is crucial in several sectors, not just aviation. In rail for example, GNSS enabled signalling applications provide increased safety and reduce costs of infrastructure management and operations compared to legacy signalling solutions. In road transport, GNSS significantly reduces congestion (and hence CO2 pollution), as well as improving the efficiency of road transportation through navigation, fleet management opportunities and road traffic monitoring.
2.3. The Trans-European Transport Network
There are three Core Network Corridors (CNC) of the TEN-T that cross the Czech Republic (please see Map 1):
- The Baltic-Adriatic Corridor stretches extends from the Polish ports Gdansk and Gdynia and from Szczecin and Swinoujscie via Czech Republic or Slovakia and through eastern Austria to the Slovenian port of Koper and to the Italian ports of Trieste, Venice and Ravenna. It covers rail, road, airports, ports and RRT’s. Mr Kurt Bodewig is the European Coordinator for this Corridor.
- The Orient/East-Med Corridor connects the German ports Bremen, Hamburg and Rostock via Czech Republic and Slovakia, with a branch through Austria, further via Hungary to the Romanian port of Constanta, the Bulgarian port of Burgas, with a link to Turkey, to Greek ports Thessaloniki and Piraeus and a “Motorway of the Sea” link to Cyprus. Mr Matthieu Grosch is the European Coordinator for this Corridor.
- The Rhine-Danube Corridor connects Strasbourg and Mannheim via two parallel axes in southern Germany, one along Main and Danube, the other one via Stuttgart and Munich, and with a branch to Prague and Zilina to the Slovak-Ukrainian border, through Austria, Slovakia and Hungary to the Romanian ports of Constanta and Galati. Ms Karla Peijs is the European Coordinator for this Corridor. In particular, the railway connection between Prague and Munich is one of the key CNC projects. Along this section so far, seven Czech railway projects have been granted funding from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF): four in the CEF Call 2014 and three in the CEF Call 2015. These successful projects are all within the Cohesion Fund envelope for the Czech Republic. In total, the cost of the projects is estimated at 459.2 million euros, of which 354.9 million euros is the maximum recommended EU funding (representing an average co-financing rate of 77%).
According to the European Commission, in order to address infrastructure bottlenecks in the country, conditions must be put in place to ensure adequate overall planning and full absorption of funds earmarked for rail projects in the Cohesion Fund. As for the completion of the TEN-T Core Network in the Czech Republic, only the completion of the Core Network for conventional rail is above EU average (with 63% completed in 2013), while the Core Network for high speed rail still needs to be significantly developed.
2.4. Transport Infrastructure Quality
EU ratings of the quality of transport infrastructure in the Czech Republic are quite high for air and rail (both above the EU average), although the quality of the road infrastructure in the country is rated below the EU average. The high quality of the Czech Republic’s transport infrastructure can also be illustrated through the World Economic Forum’s index of satisfaction with transport infrastructure quality (please see Figure 1), produced for its Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016. The country is ranked third out of the 28 EU Member States based on overall performance of transport infrastructure in 2015.
In general, consumer satisfaction with all transport modes in the Czech Republic has gone up since the previous year and is well above EU average for urban, rail and air transport. Indeed, with regards to the Market Performance Index (MPI) as analysed in the Market Monitoring Survey 2015, the Czech Republic performed well by holding 7th place compared to the other EU Member States. An MPI indicates to what extent a given market brings the desired outcome to consumers and, in 2015, the Czech Republic scored the highest for airline services, closely followed by urban transport (tram, local bus and metro) and then train services.
2.5. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
As detailed in the Czech Republic’s National Reform Programme for 2016, the Czech government is planning a technical amendment to its EIA Act with the goal of transposing the revised Directive 2014/52/EU (deadline for transposition: 16 May 2017). One of the main reasons is to take into account the fact that climate change will continue to damage the environment and endanger economic development. Therefore, after the transposition of Directive 2014/52/EU, the EIA documentation needed for a project proposal will also have to contain a description of:
- the project’s potential significant environmental impacts, based on its effects on the climate (e.g. the nature and volume of greenhouse gas emissions);
- the project’s vulnerability to climate change;
- and of the project’s exploitation of biological diversity.
The Czech government is also focused on the issue of transport-related projects of a significant value, that are co-funded by the European funds, and that have the EIA verification issued based on the legislation valid before the Czech Republic’s membership to the EU. Currently, intensive negotiations are taking place and a government resolution is being prepared. This will allow the start of the process of producing revised EIA documentation for these projects and hence fulfilling the European Commission’s requirements.
Link to the full publication: http://bit.ly/585-884