The Government outlined its views on the European Commission’s proposal on the TEN-T Regulation
On 17 February 2022, the Government submitted to Parliament a Union communication concerning the regulation proposal on the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T).
The European Commission published a proposal on a new regulation on the TEN-T network on 14 December 2021. The EU's regulatory framework has an impact on the development of transport infrastructure and nodes. The regulation specifies the extent of the TEN-T network and lays down quality requirements on the transport infrastructure and nodes of the network. The Member States may apply for funding for the TEN-T network from EU's Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). Most of the funding is national.
In addition to the current comprehensive network and core network, the proposal specifies a new extended core network that would be completed by the end of 2040. In practice, the Commission's proposal would expand the TEN-T core network in Finland. The extended core network in Finland would include all of Finland's three major rail projects, which are the Turku One Hour Train (Turun Tunnin Juna), Finland Railway (Suomi-rata) and East Railway (Itärata). Furthermore, the comprehensive network in Finland would expand to cover three highways leading to ports and the ports of Inkoo, Tornio, Lappeenranta and Joensuu. The technical requirements for different modes of transport would become stricter. The proposal contains changes to track speeds, among other things. The proposed regulation is a part of the EU's Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy.
The Government supports the development of the European transport network
The Government supports the objectives of the proposed regulation and the development of the TEN-T network. Smooth transport and travel enhance the competitiveness of both Finland and the EU.
It is important that the three direct line rail projects being planned by the three project companies are included in the extended core network. This will allow them to apply for CEF funding. The Commission's proposal covers both the current rail lines and the planned direct rail lines. No national decision has been made yet on the construction of the direct lines planned by the project companies.
It is good that seven central cities in Finland's largest urban areas have been identified in the proposal as urban nodes. They are Helsinki, Jyväskylä, Kuopio, Lahti, Oulu, Tampere and Turku. The current regulation only identifies Helsinki and Turku as urban nodes. EU funding could, for example, be applied for connections to and from the airports, railway stations and ports of the urban nodes.
Traffic volumes, distances and maritime winter conditions need to be considered
Finland's targets for the development of the European transport network are defined in the National Transport System Plan, i.e. the Traffic 12 plan.
The proposed regulation would set new requirements for the development of the transport infrastructure network and would also increase public expenditure, especially if the proposed requirements for roads and the rail network were implemented in full. Therefore, the exceptions allowed in the proposal are important for Finland. The costs of meeting the proposed requirements in full in the state road and rail network would amount to several billion euros. The largest impacts on the state transport infrastructure network would occur in the 2030s and 2040s. The proposed regulation also contains requirements that would affect the development of freight terminals and the transport systems of cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants. The regulation also contains requirements for the ports and airports of the TEN-T network.
The Government considers it important that the regulation enables Finland to take its national special characteristics into account. It is essential that the regulation allows Member States to apply for exceptions to the quality requirements of the TEN-T network, especially on the grounds of low traffic volumes.
The Government is of the opinion that further preparations should also take into account special characteristics that arise from long distances, maritime winter conditions and low population density. This would favour the recognition of strategically significant regional transport hubs, such as Oulu and its importance for Northern Scandinavia.
The proposed extent of the TEN-T network in Finland is sufficient in terms of roads and railways. The extent of the network in the EU must be based on harmonised criteria.
The Commission's proposal does, however, leave out the ports of Kaskinen and Pietarsaari from the comprehensive network. The Government believes it is essential that the current comprehensive network ports in Finland retain their status and that the core network and comprehensive network should be expanded instead of being contracted in Finland. Furthermore, Kilpilahti port is being left out of the network based on its own proposal.
For a country like Finland, ports and other export infrastructure are of utmost importance. Therefore, the Government considers it important that the operating environment remains predictable in terms of the TEN-T regulation also in the future.
What is TEN-T?
1. TEN-T is short for the Trans European Transport Network that promotes sustainable movement of people and goods.
2. TEN-T combines Europe's railways, inland waterways, roads, and maritime and air connections to make an extensive transport network.
3. The TEN-T network consists of a comprehensive network and a core network.
4. According to the new proposal, the network will be built in three phases: the core network by 2030, the extended by 2040 and the comprehensive network by 2050.
5. TEN-T connects 424 major cities to ports, airports and railway terminals. When complete, the TEN-T will shorten travel times between these cities.
The government communication will be processed by the Parliament's Grand Committee to which the special committees concerned issue their statements.
The discussion of the regulation proposal started in a working group of the Council of the European Union in January 2022. The Council is presided by France, whose objective is to reach a general approach of the proposal in June 2022.
The new regulation is estimated to replace the current one in 2024.
Johanna Juselius, Special Adviser to the Minister of Transport and Communications Timo Harakka, tel. +358 50 372 7062, johanna.juselius(at)gov.fi
Eeva Ovaska, Senior Specialist, Legal Affairs, tel. +358 295 342 113, eeva.ovaska(at)gov.fi