Government outlined its position on amendments to TEN-T proposal
On 2 September 2022, the Government submitted a follow-up Union communication to Parliament on the European Commission's proposal amending its earlier TEN-T proposal.
In December 2021, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a new Regulation on Union guidelines for the development of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T). In July 2022, the Commission published a new proposal amending the TEN-T proposal in order to respond to the changed global political context.
Securing transport connectivity of Eastern Finland
The European Commission proposes that Russia and Belarus be removed from TEN-T maps, as the expansion of the TEN-T network to these countries is no longer valid or desirable. The Commission also proposes that the last sections of the cross-border connections with Russia and Belarus (the "last miles") should be downgraded from the core network to the comprehensive network. The European Transport Corridors (the current core network corridors) would be adapted accordingly.
Finland supports the view that the expansion of cross-border connections to Russia is no longer a priority at the national or EU level, and that Russia and Belarus should be removed from the TEN-T maps. However, Finland stresses that the proposed changes to the coverage of the TEN-T network made as a result of this cannot undermine the development of nationally and regionally important road and rail connections in Eastern Finland. Finland is critical of the proposal to terminate the core network rail sections in Kouvola instead of Vainikkala and of the proposal to terminate the core network road sections in Hamina instead of Vaalimaa.
Finland may ultimately consider the downgrading of the final sections to the Russian border from the core network to the comprehensive network as part of the overall solution to be reached for the proposal and as part of Finland's overall interests, provided that the downgrading will not compromise the eligibility for funding of these road and rail connections from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). Finland stresses that the downgrading would not compromise the development of these rail and road connections to meet national needs.
National discretion should be allowed in questions concerning rail gauge
The Commission has proposed that new TNT-T rail connections be built in the European standard nominal track gauge (1,435 mm) without exceptions, and a migration plan be developed towards this European standard nominal track gauge for all existing TNT-T lines, with the exception of the lines where this is not justified based on a cost-benefit analysis.
Finland is extremely critical of such changes in track gauge and considers that national discretion should be allowed in questions concerning rail gauge. Finland further considers that such an inflexible requirement for building new rail sections in the European standard nominal track gauge which differs from the Finnish track gauge would be unreasonable for the Finnish rail network. In establishing the requirements, Finland's geographical location and the very limited connection of the Finnish rail network to the European rail network in standard nominal track gauge should be taken into account. Building new sections in the European standard nominal track gauge would not improve the interoperability of the railway network with the rest of the TEN-T network.
The Council of the European Union will continue to debate the proposal to amend the TEN-T Regulation in the autumn, and Finland will continue its efforts to influence the decision-making.
Kaisa Kuukasjärvi, Ministerial Adviser, [email protected], tel. +358 50 4140330
Eeva Ovaska, Senior Specialist, [email protected], tel. +358 50 471 1023