PUBLIC CONSULTATION ON THE AMENDMENT OF THE SECOND MARCO POLO REGULATION The Marco Polo programmes The first Marco Polo programme entered into force on July, 2003, with a budget of €102 million for the period 2003/2006. The objective of this programme was to shift off the road the growth of international road transport in the EU-25, estimated in €12 billion tkm per year. Three kinds of projects are supported: Modal shift actions, catalyst actions and common learning actions. The first Marco Polo projects started on December, 2003. On the date of this consultation only the projects of the call 2003 are being closed, however an external evaluation has taken place and some conclusions have been extracted. The second Marco Polo programme entered into force on December, 2006, with a budget of €450 million for the period 2007/2013. The objective of this programme is to shift or avoid a substantial part of the expected growth of international road transport in the EU-27, estimated in 20 billion tkm per year. Although this programme is relatively recent, 4 years have passed since it was proposed by the Commission, in 2004. The first call of the second Marco Polo programme was launched in 2007 and has been already evaluated. The objective of this consultation is to obtain feedback from interested parties on which amendments could be done to the second Marco Polo regulation in order to help the programme to achieve its modal shift objectives by improving its budgetary execution. It is not the objective of this consultation to propose major qualitative changes to the Marco Polo regulation. In this respect the Commission will start on 2009 a substantial review of the Marco Polo regulation with a view to the next financial perspectives, 2014/2021. Problem The first Marco Polo programme has a global objective to shift off the roads the estimated aggregate growth of international road transport in EU-25. This is estimated to be 12 billion tkm every year. This objective is not met because: (a) not enough contracts are signed and (b) for those contracts signed the initial objectives are not met. With an available budget of €102 million, contracts have been signed for €74 million only. Furthermore it is expected that the total modal shift achieved by the projects will reach only 64% of the Marco Polo global target of 12 billion tkm shifted every year. In view of the double origin of the problem, two different kinds of interrelated problems could be highlighted: (a) The programme is not attracting enough good project proposals which deliver modal shift. (b) The projects selected are not delivering results These problems have been highlighted in the Evaluation of the Marco Polo Programme (2003-2006) done for the Commission by the consultant Ecorys Nederland BV. Options 1. If no action is taken the second Marco Polo programme will suffer from exactly the same kind of problems as the first one because: − The differences between the first Marco Polo programme and the second one are mainly of scope (allowing third countries to participate and creating two new action types) and size (increasing substantially its budget), but no substantial qualitative changes. − The results of the evaluation of the first call of the second Marco Polo programme show again that the programme is not attracting enough good proposals. For an available budget of €56 million, only 55 proposals have been received, with a requested subvention amounting to €93 million. At the end of the evaluation process 27 proposals were retained with a requested support of €58 million. Therefore the reserve list amounted to €2 million only. (the list of selected proposals will be public when a Commission award decision is adopted in the coming months) 2. Action by the Commission can be taken in three different time frames: 2.1. In the short term, the Commission will propose to increase the funding intensity of the modal shift from 1 to 2 € per 500 tkm shifted 2.2. In the medium term the Commission will propose an amendment of the second Marco Polo regulation in order to improve the budgetary execution. 2.3. In a longer term the Commission will propose a substantial modification of the programme. The present consultation intends to receive relevant information from interested parties in respect of action point 2.2. In this regard the Commission is submitting to public consultation some proposals to improve the budgetary execution of the second Marco Polo programme. Although this list of proposals is not extensive, the consultation does not intend to receive relevant information on action point 2.3, which will be the object of a future consultation in the future. This public consultation is open until 30 May 2008.
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