As Russia continues its war of aggression against Ukraine, Brussels proposed Thursday to extend four European transport corridors to Ukraine and Moldova, including the ports of Mariupol and Odessa. Russia’s war has in particular highlighted the EU’s vulnerability to unforeseen events beyond the Union’s borders, and has had major impact on global markets such as global food security.
The proposal will help improve transport connectivity between the two countries and the EU, facilitate economic exchanges and help connection for people and businesses, says the Commission. “These corridors will also be a key priority in rebuilding the transport infrastructure of Ukraine once the war ends,” said Transport Commissioner Adina Valean: “Our efforts to facilitate the export of grain from Ukraine via the Solidarity Lanes have also demonstrated the importance of interoperability within the transport system, and reinforced the need to increase convergence within the EU network, making it more resilient and strengthening the internal market.”
Russia’s aggression, as well as the position adopted by Belarus in the conflict, means that cooperation with Russia and Belarus on transport is no longer considered appropriate, nor in the interest of the EU. The proposal removes Russia and Belarus from the TEN-T maps. The Commission is also proposing to downgrade the last miles of all cross-border connections between the EU and Russia/Belarus from ‘core network’ to ‘comprehensive network’. This implies a later target date for completion – 2050 instead of 2030.
The different rail track gauges used in Ukraine compared to most of the EU are also addressed in the proposal. The difference is a huge obstacle to interoperability. The proposal includes measures to migrate railway lines, when economically justified, to the European standard track gauge. This also applies to non-standard track gauges within the EU; the difficulties at the Ukraine border have highlighted how this lack of interoperability makes the railway network inside EU territory vulnerable.
The Commission’s proposal is now to be part of ongoing negotiations with the European Parliament and the Council on the TEN-T revision, which started early this year.
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