EN 4.7.1.


The Maastricht Treaty provides for the implementation of trans-European networks in transport,
energy and telecommunications in order to connect islands, landlocked and peripheral regions to the
central regions of the EC. The networks are tools that should contribute to the development of the
internal market, while respecting environmental issues and sustainable development goals.

Title XV of the EC Treaty or Titles XVI and XXI of the Lisbon Treaty.

The Maastricht Treaty gave the Union the task of establishing and developing trans-European
infrastructure networks (TEN) in the areas of transport, telecommunications and energy, in
order to help develop the internal market, reinforce economic and social cohesion and to link island,
landlocked and peripheral regions with the central regions of the Union. The establishment of the
TEN relates to Community-wide collaboration, the improvement of the interoperability of national
networks and facilitating access to them.
In line with the principle of subsidiarity, the Community has no exclusive competence for the
developing, financing or building the infrastructures. The main responsibility for doing so continues
to lie with the Member States. Nevertheless, the Union contributes substantially to the development
of these networks by acting as a catalyst and by providing financial support, particularly at the
outset, for infrastructures of common interest.
Article 154 of the EC Treaty, incorporated in Articles 170 and 194(1)(d) – which relates to energy –
of the Lisbon Treaty, provides a solid legal basis for the TENs. To this end, the Union lays down
guidelines under the codecision procedure or the ordinary legislative procedure (Lisbon Treaty)
between the European Parliament and the Council, identifying eligible ‘projects of common interest’
and ‘priority projects’ and covering the objectives, priorities and broad lines of measures.


A. General guidelines and general ideas
The Commission White Paper on Growth, Competitiveness and Employment, presented to the
Brussels European Council in December 1993, emphasised the fundamental importance of the TEN
for the internal market. The White Paper referred in particular to the contribution made to job-
creation, not only in building the infrastructure itself, but also through its subsequent role in
economic development. It identified 26 priority projects for transport, 8 for energy and 9 for a data
highway system. The Brussels European Council adopted the White Paper in December 1993 and set
up two working groups, whose recommendations were approved by the European Councils of Corfu
and Essen in 1994 (including 14 priority projects for transport and 10 for the energy sector).

B. Sectoral legislative measures

1. Transport
a. The 1996 guidelines
Decision No 1692/96/EC of 23 July 1996 on Community guidelines for the development of the
trans-European transport network (TEN-T) sets out broad lines for the measures necessary to set
up the network. The Decision established characteristics of the networks for each mode of transport,
eligible projects of common interest and priority projects. Emphasis was placed on environmentally-
friendly modes of transport, in particular rail projects. The TENs-T encompass all modes of transport
and the entire territory of the Union and they may extend to the EFTA countries, the countries of
South-East Europe and the Mediterranean countries. Initially, this Decision incorporated 14 projects
of common interest that were adopted by the Essen Council.
Decision No 1346/2001/EC of 22 May 2001 amending the TEN-T guidelines as regards seaports,
inland ports and intermodal terminals subsequently added criteria for these remaining elements
missing from the TEN-T, thereby providing for a Community ‘transport development plan’
encompassing all modes of transport.

b. Revision of the TEN guidelines
The enlargements of the EU in 2004 and 2007, coupled with serious delays and financing problems
in the realisation of the TEN-T – particularly cross-border sections – led to the need for a thorough
revision of the TEN guidelines. On the basis of proposals made by a specially appointed working
group headed by former European Commissioner Karel van Miert, this revision was eventually
adopted in the form of Decision 884/2004/EC of 29 April 2004, amended by Council Regulation
(EC) 1791/2006 of 20 November 2006. The revision comprised the following main elements:
― A list of priority projects (PP) was increased to approximately 30, 18 of which relate solely to rail
   transport, 3 to road transport, 4 to multimodal transport, primarily rail and road, 2 to internal
   waterways and 1 to the so-called ‘motorways of the sea’. Some of the projects have already been
   completed, e.g. the Øresund fixed link (between Sweden and Denmark, 2000), Malpensa Airport
   (Italy, 2001) and the Betuwe railway line (between Rotterdam and the German border, 2007).
   Significant sections of some of the other projects have also been completed: the Nürnberg-
   Ingolstadt section of PP 1 in 2006; the first phase of the TGV Est in France of PPs 4 and 17
   entered into service in 2007; and in 2008 the Madrid-Barcelona high-speed railway line.
― The transport projects were forced to comply with EU environmental legislation, particularly
   through a strategic environmental impact assessment as a complement to the conventional
   environmental impact assessment;
― The new concept of motorways of the sea, based on intermodality, was introduced to make certain
   sea routes more efficient and to integrate short sea shipping with rail transport, by providing high-
   quality and frequent alternatives to road transport. Four corridors were defined for the
   implementation of the motorways of the sea project to 2010 (Baltic Sea, Western Europe via the
   Atlantic, Eastern and Western Mediterranean);
― Six ‘European coordinators’ for particularly important projects were appointed in July 2005. They
   are important European figures who act as mediators in order to facilitate the contacts with the
   national decision-making authorities, transport operators and users, and representatives of civil
   society. They also lay the groundwork for the EIB’s investment decisions;
― A Trans-European Transport Network Executive Agency, based in Brussels, was set up in
   October 2006. It is responsible for the technical and financial preparation and monitoring of the
   decision on the projects managed by the Commission;
― By 2020 TEN-T should cover 100 345 km of roads and 106 845 km of railways, including
   30 000 km of high-speed railways (at least 200 km/h). In addition, 14 630 km of inland waterway
   networks, 120 inland waterway ports, 23 inland/seaports and 264 Class A seaports (of
   international importance), as well as 407 airports are part of the trans-European network.
   Completion of the TEN-T implies the construction of the ‘missing links’, i.e. building or
   improving on the road network that existed in 2005 with 20 300 km of motorways or high-quality
   roads, and 18 975 km of high-speed railway lines (new or improved conventional lines). In
   addition, 3500 km of roads, 12 300 km of railways and 1740 km of inland waterways are to be
― In May 2008 the Commission estimated the total costs at around € 900 billion for the period
   1996-2020, € 500 million of which has yet to be invested between 2007 and 2020. On the basis of
   the latest data provided by the Member States in April 2008, the costs of the priority sections of
   28 PPs – excluding the Galileo project and the motorways of the sea – amount to € 397 billion, an
   increase of 16.8% compared with the 2004 estimate of €340 billion (for more on the financing of
   the TEN, see Chapter 4.6.2.).

2. Energy

a. The 1996 guidelines
At the Essen summit of December 1994, several energy projects were awarded priority status.
Decision No 1254/96/EC of 5 June 1996 laid down a series of guidelines for trans-European
energy networks (TEN-E). They contained an action plan by which the Community might identify
eligible projects of common interest and help create a framework to encourage their implementation.
They also laid down sectoral objectives for electricity.

b. New guidelines
The Union adopted new guidelines to update the trans-European energy networks through Decision
1364/2006/EC of 6 September 2006, thereby repealing the old guidelines of 1996 and 2003.
The objectives of the new guidelines are to diversify supplies, to increase security of supply by
strengthening links with third countries (accession countries or other countries in the Mediterranean
Sea, Black Sea and Caspian Sea basins, and in the Middle East and the Gulf) and to incorporate
networks in the new Member States. In addition, access to the TENs-E by insular, landlocked and
peripheral regions strengthens in particular territorial cohesion within the EU.
With these new guidelines, the EU has indicated the projects that are eligible for Community
financing and divided them into three categories: projects of common interest relating to electricity
and gas networks displaying potential economic viability; priority projects, which are given priority
when Community funding is granted; and projects of European interest, which are also priority
projects and are of a cross-border nature or have a significant impact on cross-border transmission
The priorities for the trans-European energy networks must be compatible with the goals of
sustainable development. These priorities include: (a) using renewable energies and ensuring better
connections between the facilities that produce them; (b) using more effective technologies that limit
the environmental losses and risks; (c) establishing energy networks in island and ultraperipheral
regions through diversification and renewable energy sources; and (d) interoperability of EU
networks with the networks of the new Member States and third countries. Annex I to the Decision
identifies 32 projects of European interest for electricity and 10 for gas, while Annexes II and III list
164 projects of common interest for electricity and 122 for gas.
In the 2007-2013 financial perspective a total of € 155 million has been allocated to the TENs-E.
Four European coordinators were appointed in September 2007 to monitor a project of European
interest and help to resolve any technical, political and financial problems relating to the most
complex projects, such as the high-voltage line between France and Spain (former Commissioner
The new title on energy in the Lisbon Treaty (Article 194(1)(d)) provides a solid legal basis for
promoting energy network interconnections.

3. Telecommunications (* 4.7.7. and 4.7.9.)
Decision No 2717/95/EC of 9 November 1995 established a series of guidelines for the development
of the Euro-ISDN (integrated services digital network) as a trans-European network. The Decision
defined the objectives, priorities and common-interest projects for developing a range of services
based on the Euro-ISDN with a view to a future European broadband communications network.
Decision 1336/97/EC of 17 June 1997 laid down guidelines for the trans-European
telecommunications networks (TEN-Telecom). This set out the objectives, priorities and broad lines
of the measures envisaged. The priorities adopted included applications contributing to economic and
social cohesion and the development of the basic networks, particularly satellite networks. These
guidelines were modified slightly by Decision No 1376/2002/EC of 12 July 2002.
These guidelines identified projects of common interest as well as the procedure and criteria for their
selection. In the same context, the Community programme eTEN, a key instrument of the eEUROPE
2005 Action Plan – An Information Society for All – built on the Euro-ISDN programme.
Completed in 2006, it sought to support the trans-European deployment of services based on the
telecommunications networks.
Community investment is currently focusing on modernising the existing networks. In addition, the
Commission, while underlining the disparities between urban and rural areas, has invited the
Member States to ‘bridge the broadband gap’ by 2010.

Parliament strongly supported the trans-European network policy. At the same time, Parliament has
regularly drawn attention to delays in implementation of priority transport projects, called for firm
timetables for their realisation and called on the Member States to increase substantially the
budgetary resources available, particularly for the trans-European transport networks. The EP has
ensured that priority is given to the promotion of those projects which clearly demonstrated positive
and long-term effects on the environment and employment and which helped to remove bottlenecks
in the trans-European transport network, particularly in rail and combined transport. Parliament also
called for a range of administrative changes to improve implementation of the trans-European
networks. For example, the Commission was asked to come forward with new guidelines for the
trans-European energy networks. In this connection, the EP has criticised delays to the original plans.
During the revision of the guidelines for the trans-European transport networks, Parliament was able
to make a number of amendments in the negotiations with the Council in April 2004. Among other
things, the guidelines’ environmental rules were strengthened and the concept of a strategic
environmental impact assessment was introduced as a binding requirement, under pressure from the
EP. Parliament also obtained a change to the list of priority projects. Under pressure from
Parliament, the realisation of priority projects was more strongly linked to a timetable than the
Member States had envisaged. For the first time, the possibility of removing the status of ‘priority
project’ was created. This was intended as an added incentive for Member States to ensure prompter
realisation of projects.
With the adoption of the own-initiative report on ‘Keeping Europe moving – sustainable mobility for
our continent’ on 12 July 2007, the EP took stock of the situation and laid down new objectives in
the TEN-T sector. It stressed in particular that the completion of the entire trans-European network is
the best way to create the conditions needed to make the most of the different modes of transport
through an approach called ‘co-modality’, and that a redistribution of the balance between the modes
of transfer (‘modal transfer’) is needed to reduce the environmental impact of transport. In this
regard, the EP encourages transfers to rail, bus and maritime transport, which still have only a small
share of the market.
When the Decision establishing new guidelines for the TEN-E was being adopted in 2006, the EP
pointed out that the declaration of European interest and the possibility of appointing coordinators
were essential tools for achieving a genuine internal gas and electricity market and ensuring security
of supply, and it called for an improvement in network interconnections. Moreover, it emphasised
that in order to obtain Community funding the priority projects should be compatible with the
objectives of sustainable development and improve the EU network’s security of supply.

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