Finland excels in EU lobbying: Union reaches provisional agreement on regulation for trans-European transport network

Ministry of Transport and Communications
Publication date 19.12.2023 15.29 | Published in English on 20.12.2023 at 13.38
Press release
Kuvassa ministeri Ranne violetissa bleiserissä
Minister of Transport and Communications Lulu Ranne. (Photo: Fanni Uusitalo, Prime Minister's Office)

Representatives of the EU Member States, Parliament and Commission have reached a provisional accord on a regulation concerning Union guidelines for developing the trans-European transport network (TEN-T). The regulation will define the TEN-T network, legislating on such aspects as quality requirements for highways and transport nodes. The accord was achieved in tripartite negotiations on 18 December 2023.

Finland has actively influenced the EU, and the accord accommodates its national negotiating position very well. The Nordic countries also coordinated their lobbying efforts closely in preparing the regulation. The agreement will be confirmed at a meeting of the Council of the European Union.

“This regulation will be really important for developing the entire Finnish transport system. Active lobbying has ensured that the agreement accommodates several important issues for Finland, including the perspectives of security of supply and military mobility. I would like to thank the entire team of the Ministry of Transport and Communications for this,” says Minister of Transport and Communications Lulu Ranne.

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 December 2021.

New roads included in the network

Highways added to the original European Commission proposal have remained in the final agreement. These include port connections on main road 25 between Hanko and Mäntsälä, main road 15 between Kotka and Kouvola, and main road 12 between Rauma, Tampere and Tuulos.

Further negotiation on the regulation accommodated the needs of military mobility in various ways, including maps. European route E8 from Turku in Finland to Tromsø in Norway will be wholly included in the comprehensive network, and main road 21 from Tornio to the Norwegian border will be added to the TEN-T network.

A broad range of lobbying efforts for main road 21 were targeted at Nordic countries, the Spanish Presidency and the EU in autumn 2023. Internal Finnish Government coordination on this subject has been intensive, especially between the Ministry of Transport and Communications and the Ministry of Defence.

“The overall TEN-T network now specified is highly satisfactory. Main road 21 is important for security of supply, and I personally lobbied our Nordic partners, the European Commission and the Presidency to include this highway in the network. I am delighted that our needs in Northern Finland have been recognised,” Minister Ranne explains.

Desired status secured for the ports of Oulu and Kaskinen

The regulation effectively and flexibly accommodates special conditions in Finland, such as long distances, sparse habitation and low traffic flows.

The port of Kaskinen maintains its status in the comprehensive network. The port of Oulu will also be included in the core network. The ports of Tornio, Inkoo, Joensuu and Lappeenranta were also added to the comprehensive network.

Finland continued to stress throughout the negotiations that the port of Kokkola should be added to the core network and the port of Pietarsaari should be retained in the comprehensive network, but its negotiating objectives were not met in this respect.

“We were adamant in defending the status of ports that are important to Finland. Through sustained lobbying, we achieved our goals for the ports of Oulu and Kaskinen and we also promoted the status of the ports of Kokkola and Pietarsaari throughout,” Minister Ranne reports.

An energy criterion reflecting the role of ports in energy supply was strongly backed by Finland and was also added as a criterion for inclusion in the TEN-T network. This may help some Finnish ports to re-establish their TEN-T network status at a later date. It will also be possible to consider geostrategic importance when determining future ports on the comprehensive network.

Finland continues to determine its track gauge

While the regulation requires Member States to construct new rail connections for the core network and extended core network to a European standard gauge of 1435 mm, and to assess a potential change in track gauge for existing rail infrastructure, it nevertheless empowers Finland to make a future national decision on track gauge on the basis of an impact assessment. This was one of the most important negotiating issues for Finland, which uses a track gauge of 1524 mm.

The direct line section of the Finland Railway was removed from the TEN-T network in accordance with the Government Programme. The One-hour Turku Rail Link, Airport Line and Eastern Rail Link track sections are included in the extended core network.

An agreement on the Eastern Rail Link already included in a general overview of the EU Council was retained, ensuring that a core network rail connection will continue to Lappeenranta.

What is TEN-T?

1. TEN-T refers to the Trans-European Transport Network, which promotes the sustainable mobility of people and goods.

2. TEN-T links European roads, railways, inland waterways, sea and air connections, urban nodes and multimodal freight terminals into an extensive transport network.

3. TEN-T comprises a comprehensive network, a core network and an extended core network.

4. The new proposal envisages construction of the network in three phases: the core network will be completed by 2030, the extended core network by 2040 and the comprehensive network by 2050.

5. TEN-T will connect 424 major cities to ports, airports and railway terminals. The completed network will reduce travelling times between these cities.

Next steps

The provisional agreement will now be considered at the Permanent Representatives Committee of the Member States (Coreper). The regulation proposal will then be adopted at a meeting of the Council of the European Union, and will also require formal approval by the European Parliament. The final Regulation will take effect 20 days after its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.


Tuomas Sorsa, Special Adviser to the Minister, tel. +358 29 534 2012, [email protected]

Kaisa Kuukasjärvi, Senior Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 29 534 2030, [email protected]

Timo Kievari, Director of Unit, tel. +358 29 534 2620, [email protected]