Governor Dörfler and representatives from 13 regions sign a declaration in Brussels – Support from Transport Commissioner Tajani – Reception hosted by Austria’s ambassador to the EU
The 20 regions along the Baltic-Adriatic Corridor are intensifying their lobbying work in Brussels. The Carinthian Governor Gerhard Dörfler and high-ranking representatives from 13 regions travelled to the Belgian capital to convince EU decision makers of the economic importance and the significance that the high speed train link between Gdansk and Bologna will have. The aim is to include the entire route, including Koralm railway route, in the priority projects of the TransEuropean Networks TEN. The representatives of the region signed a declaration on this plan yesterday, Tuesday evening.
The Carinthian Governor stressed that the Baltic-Adriatic Transport Corridor is of paramount importance for the whole of Europe. He also spoke about the importance that the Koralmbahn railway route has for Carinthia. It will open up full access to the European and global markets, create sustainable jobs and promote Carinthia's attractiveness as a business location.
The event was organised jointly by Carinthia and Styria and was attended by many high-ranking guests. The Vice-President of the European Commission, Commissioner for Transport Antonio Tajani, referred to the Baltic-Adriatic transport axis as an important project and promised his support. So too did MEP Brian Simpson, Chairman of the Transport Committee of the European Parliament. Members of the European Parliament from all the signatory countries were also present.
The declaration on the support of the immediate implementation of the Baltic-Adriatic Transport Axis was signed by representatives from 14 regions from Austria, Italy, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia in Brussels yesterday. Six further signatures are to follow. The European Commission will soon table a proposal for the most important European transport projects that will have to be assessed by the European Parliament and the 27 ministers of transport.
Interest in the event was correspondingly high: Eight heads of regional governments, i.e. governors, regional presidents or marshals, and more than 30 members of the European Parliament attended the presentation together with some 250 representatives from various countries and experts.
With the declaration, the signatories underline the importance of the Baltic-Adriatic Transport Axis and guarantee their support. In the declaration, reference is made to the long-term economic impact that the project will have for Northern, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe. Improved access to European markets is expected; it is also expected that the ports of Venice, Ravenna or Trieste will become more important and that Europe can connect to the booming Asian markets via the Suez Canal. The reduction of transport bottleneck situations is underlined in the declaration, as well as the environmental impact and the reduction of CO2 emissions. It also points out that transport will become safer. The regions also refer to better options for cooperation between them.
The following regions have signed the joint declaration: the Austrian provinces of Carinthia, Styria, Vienna and Lower Austria, Friuli Venezia-Giulia, Veneto and Emilia Romagna from Italy, Jihomoravský and Zlinský from the Czech Republic and Pomorskie, Warminsko-Mazurskie, Maszowieckie, Lódzkie and Slaskie from Poland.
The Koralmbahn railway connection between Graz and Klagenfurt, with the 32 km Koralm tunnel, is the most important element of the Baltic-Adriatic Corridor for Carinthia and Styria. The provinces of Carinthia and Styria each contribute 140 million euros to the 5.2 billion euros project (2008 - 2020). To date, more than 310 million euros have already been invested in the construction work on the Carinthian side, bringing an enormous boost in terms of value generation and employment. Completion of the transport connection between Klagenfurt and Graz is envisaged by 2016; completion of the entire railway route is planned for 2018. By adopting the TEN network as a priority project, it would be possible to secure EU subsidies - up to 50% of the costs of planning and up to 20% of the costs of construction.
Declaration to the Baltic-Adriatic-Corridor
Why is this Declaration important and why is the event held at the European Parliament?
The European Commission is soon going to submit a proposal for the most important European transport projects that will be assessed by the European Parliament (first by the Transport Committee (44 members), then by the entire plenum - 736 seats) and the 27 Ministers of Transport (time: 2010/2011).
With this Declaration, the importance of the Baltic-Adriatic Transport Axis is demonstrated to the Chairman of the Transport Committee Brian Simpson (Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats at the European Parliament/GB Lancashire/Labour Party), other members of the European Parliament, Commissioner for Transport and Vice-President of the European Commission Antonio Tajani and other members of the Commission.
What is the content of the Declaration?
Reference to documents, such as the
• Letter of Intent (2006) signed by the Ministers of Transports of Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Austria (Vice-Chancellor Gorbach) and Italy;
• Publication of the 1st Declaration on future European transport policy and its priorities (general, no mention of projects);
1) The signatories acknowledge the importance of the Baltic-Adriatic Axis and assure their support;
2) General importance of railway transport for the future, starting from the assumption of an increase in traffic volume:
• Environment: By the year 2020, a 20 % reduction of CO2 has to be achieved; rail traffic is three times more energy-efficient than motorway traffic; cars and aircraft account for 90% of CO2 emissions;
• Transport safety: Reduction of accidents and consequently also of costs for the regions
3) Reduction of transport bottlenecks;
4) The Baltic-Adriatic Axis will boost economic development which will in turn lead to increased business growth, above all in Northern, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe;
5) Improved access to European markets - and, in particular, better networking with Northern Europe and the Mediterranean countries - and to global markets; special relevance for ports, mainly Venice, Ravenna, Trieste; connection to the booming Asian markets via the Suez Canal;
6) Better options of cooperation between the regions.
Improved accessibility of the regions thanks to better infrastructure means a sustainable push for the economic development of the regions, and at the same time a contribution will be made to achieving environmental and energy-saving objectives.
Agreement with EU Commissioner Tajani:
The Governor of Carinthia, Gerhard Dörfler, met Antonio Tajani, the EU Commissioner for Transport and Vice-President of the European Commission, Renzo Tondo, the President of Friuli-Venezia-Giulia and Giancarlo Galan, the President of Veneto in Trieste yesterday (Friday). The meeting was initiated by Dörfler following the trilateral governmental meeting held in Villach in December. Infrastructure topics important for Europe were discussed. At the centre of the talks, which were conducted in an extremely cordial atmosphere, was the topic of the Baltic - Adriatic Transport Axis, with regard to the Koralmbahn line. The high-speed rail link from Gdansk to Bologna passing through Carinthia is a topic of high importance for the three regions Carinthia, Friuli- Venezia-Giulia and Veneto.
EU Commissioner Tajani reported that the EU had recently published a consultation paper, a so-called green paper, on the subject of the trans-European (transport) networks (TEN). This will provide the basis for the review of the high-priority TEN projects. "The decisions on the projects at EU level will be made in 2010. Carinthia has started lobbying in Brussels for the Koralmbahn line at the right time. That is why we now have a good chance that our project will get onto the list," said Dörfler. The Governor invited the high-ranking EU representative to visit and see for himself the progress being made on the Koralmbahn line and Koralm Tunnel.
The Baltic - Adriatic Axis, which stretches from the Adriatic to the Baltic ports, will connect the economic zones in Eastern and Northern Europe with Austria and Northern Italy. All parties are agreed that this transport axis will have an extremely positive effect on growth and employment in all regions along this axis.
Following the discussions with Tajani, Tondo and Galan, Dörfler said he was confident that the Baltic - Adriatic Axis would be adopted on the list of priority, so-called trans-European transport networks, as the EU Commissioner for Transport had indicated his support for the project. He also said the Czech Republic, which currently holds the EU presidency, is prepared to support this joint project.
No to a delay in the construction of the Koralm Tunnel
The ÖBB (Austrian national railways company) Master Plan for 2009-2014 envisages a reduction in funds of EUR 594 million for the Koralmbahn construction project. This would lead to a delay in completion of three to four years. "That is unacceptable", asserted Dörfler and Edlinger-Ploder.
Clear "No!" to a delay in the construction of the Koralm Tunnel
Governor Dörfler and Edlinger-Ploder, the Styrian Transport Minister, inspect progress on the Koralm Tunnel - severe criticism of Federal Minister Bures
The Governor of Carinthia, Gerhard Dörfler, and Styrian Transport Minister, Kristina Edlinger-Ploder, were sharply critical of the Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Doris Bures, at a joint inspection of the Koralmbahn line construction site at Mitterpichling today (Wednesday).
The ÖBB Master Plan for 2009-2014 envisages a reduction in funds of EUR 594 million for the Koralmbahn construction project. This would lead to a delay in completion of three to four years. "That is unacceptable", asserted Dörfler and Edlinger-Ploder. Both demanded that Federal Government should honour its part in the contract. The planned reduction in funds had been confirmed unofficially by staff of the Ministry for Infrastructure.
The Carinthian state parliament had passed a resolution calling for the honouring of the contract to finance the tunnel construction only a few weeks earlier. "The money for the Koralmbahn line is being moved quietly to various economic packages throughout Austria. We are not prepared to accept that," asserted Dörfler.
Dörfler und Edlinger-Ploder announced that there would be a legal examination with regard to a claim for damages. "Bures' treatment of the federal states is a disgrace," were Edlinger-Ploder's exact words. This was no way to treat contractual partners, she went on to say: the delay in construction would lead to huge regional economic damage.
Carinthia and Styria were ready to deliver their share of the financing for the construction of the tunnel. The federal government should therefore stick to its contractual obligations, stressed both politicians. Edlinger-Ploder said that she would inform Styrian Governor Franz Voves about this drastic reduction in the budget.
Dörfler und Edlinger-Ploder were clearly very pleased with the construction progress evident from their inspection of the tunnel. 7.1 km of the tunnel have already been excavated. The whole project will cost EUR 5.2 bn and will be completed in 2018.
Klaus Schneider, ÖBB's overall project coordinator, was also present at the inspection of the tunnel.