Volume 3, Issue 3 June 2018
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In 2017, the Committee on Transport and Tourism of the European Parliament (TRAN) participated in five fact-finding missions that included visits to Bulgaria, Sweden, the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania), France and the United States of America.
Why Members of the European Parliament undertake several missions every year and what is their purpose? The main objective of these official visits is to discover first-hand the tangible successes and practical challenges in certain Member States. Occasionally, TRAN Members participate in delegations to countries outside of the European Union to find out how the best practices worldwide could be useful at the EU level.
During these visits, Members of the TRAN Committee engage in discussions with representatives of national and local authorities, as well as with relevant businesses and stakeholders to gather knowledge on pragmatic aspects of the EU legislation in the field of transport and tourism. Findings of these missions provide an input into the parliamentary work of the TRAN Committee.
In order to support the Members of the TRAN Committee with tailored expertise (both in-house and external), the Policy Department prepares briefing notes ahead of each mission. These short documents focus not only on general transport and tourist policies of the visited countries but also analyse the specific issues planned for the discussions during the delegation. In the following sections, you can find summaries and direct links to the briefings prepared by the Policy Department in relation to TRAN missions in 2017.
Policy Department TRAN team
The TRAN Committee undertook an ad hoc delegation to the United States of America focusing on visiting California and the Silicon Valley, between the 30th October and the 3rd November 2017.
This briefing informs that significant investments of California’s authorities in public transport (and particularly in urban rail systems) since the 1990s, have not resulted in increased numbers of passengers using these modes of transport (with the notable exception of San Francisco). However, it highlights that despite the disappointing results achieved to date, investment in public transport is not expected to suffer in the future, because it forms part of policies combating greenhouse gas emissions, an area where California wants to be at the forefront.
It also details the financing schemes of transport infrastructure in California pointing out that this infrastructure remains almost exclusively financed by public funds (with the notable exception of the rail network for freight transport, which is entirely private) and there is rarely a charge for usage.
The briefing reports that California is the state with the highest number of autonomous vehicle manufacturers and it discusses the legislation regulating tests on these vehicles. Lastly, the paper points out that the use of drones is (strictly) regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration, on the basis of the rules applicable to other aircraft and that the specific regulations for drones are still under development.
The mission of the TRAN Committee to Bulgaria took place from 18 and 20 September 2017.
The briefing puts forward that Bulgaria spent more than EUR 2.5 billion on inland transport infrastructure within the period 2007-2013 and over EUR 420 million in 2014 alone, an investment that represents 0.7% of the country’s GDP. Despite a relatively high public investment, the quality of infrastructure in Bulgaria remains moderately low for all modes of transport. Some positive changes are observed however for road, port and airport infrastructure.
With 6.5%, Bulgaria nearly reached the EU average of 6.7% for the share of renewable energy in transport in 2015 and is on track to achieve the national target of 10% by 2020 as imposed on all Member States by the Renewable Energy Directive. In 2015, Bulgaria was ranked sixth among the EU Member States in terms of the share of newly registered cars using alternative fuels
Concerning tourism, Bulgaria’s UNESCO World Heritage sites include seven cultural heritage sites (Ancient City of Nessebar, Boyana Church, Madara Rider, Rila Monastery, Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo, Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak and Thracian Tomb of Sveshtari) and three natural heritage sites (Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe, Pirin National Park, Srebarna Nature Reserve).
The TRAN Committee organised a mission to Sweden from 17-19 July 2017.
The briefing analyses the country’s National Transport Plan for 2018-2029 and discusses Sweden’s situation in terms of renewable energy in transport. In this context, the paper points out that Sweden was the leading Member State in 2015.
It also remarks that the country maintained its position among the three top performers in road safety in the same year.
The briefing also examines the use of so-called Megatrucks to increase the energy efficiency of timber transport in Sweden and explores the Green Highway Project between the country and Norway.
As regards Swedish tourism, the major challenges for the sector mentioned in the briefing include connectivity and transport, profitability, destination and product development, seasonality, and sustainability.
The mission of the TRAN Committee to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania took place from 22 to 24 May 2017.
The briefing highlights the important role that transport sector plays in the economies of the three Baltic States). The sector’s contribution to the national GDPs of the analysed countries ranged from 8.2% in Estonia to 13% in Lithuania.
Interestingly, in terms of transport modal split, rail is the dominant mode of freight transport in all three Baltic States, with its market shares spanning from 55% in Estonia to 74% in Latvia.
Referring to transport infrastructure, the multimodal ‘North Sea-Baltic Corridor’ is the only Core Network Corridor (CNC) of the TEN-T that crosses all three Baltic States and therefore, provides the only land transport connection of these countries to the rest of the EU.
The briefing also highlights that the tourism sector in all three countries suffers from excessive seasonality, which is intended to be overcome by the development of priority niche tourism markets, such as conference, cultural and sporting events tourism (Latvia, Estonia), nature tourism and the creative industries (Latvia), health tourism (Latvia, Lithuania), cultural tourism (Latvia, Lithuania), business tourism and eco-tourism (Lithuania).
The mission of the TRAN Committee to France took place from 21-23 February 2017. On this occasion, two individual briefing notes were prepared focussing on transport in metropolitan Toulouse and the port of Marseille.
The first briefing points out that cars are the main form of transport in Toulouse, resulting in congestion on the major approach roads. Interestingly, walking is the second most frequent option after the automobile (22% of journeys on average in 2013). However, it is confined mainly to the city centre, being much less popular in the outer suburbs.
Journeys by public transport take twice the time as journeys by car in the metropolitan area. The Tisséo network (metro, tram, bus) is the main public transport service provider in the metropolitan area of Toulouse. In 2014, it accounted for almost 85% of the 508 000 daily journeys by public transport.
As part of the mission to France organised between 21 and 23 February 2017, Members of the TRAN Committee visited the port of Marseille – the country’s leading port by cargo volume (and the second largest port in the Mediterranean after Algeciras) and number of cruise passengers (the fifth largest in the Mediterranean).
The briefing discusses in detail the current situation of the port and presents its outlook for the future. It points out to a rather disadvantageous circumstances accompanying the development of this French port, which include the country’s sluggish economy, as well as the fact that the area from which products are delivered to a port for shipping elsewhere and vice-versa is (increasingly) restricted to the national territory. Moreover, the briefing states that the port of Marseille will not be able to benefit from the increased Asia- Europe traffic unless it considerably strengthens its river and, above all, rail connections with the economic heart of the continent.
To that end, the briefing argues that inclusion of the port in two of the nine priority corridors of the trans-European transport network
(TEN-T) could help improve the rail and river connections between Marseille and its hinterland.