CER: include Western Balkans in TEN-T network
The Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) calls for inclusion of the Western Balkans in the Trans-European Network for Transport (TEN-T) at the Western Balkans Rail Summit 2021. They also advocate adequate funding for rail projects.
The rail summit in the Western Balkans took place on 13 September in Belgrade, Serbia. Countries of the Western Balkans include Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia. At the summit, CER highlighted the importance of the region for a well-connected Europe.
“Adequate financing of rail projects is a priority for the Western Balkans”, said CER Executive Director Alberto Mazzola. “An efficient rail system in the region will enable Central Europe to be better connected via rail to potentially very important commercial partners, such as Turkey and the Middle East. We must take all opportunities to remind the EU institutions that the TEN-T network should also include the Balkan route.”
Speaking from the EU-perspective, CER Executive Director Alberto Mazzola took stock of the rail freight and rail passenger situation in the region, the delicate balance needed between the virtues of an open market and the need to ensure services that are often not commercially viable, and which therefore should be covered by Public Service Obligation.
Connecting Europe Express
The Connecting Europe Express arrived in Belgrade on 12 September and continues on its five-week journey through Europe, encompassing visits and events in more than 100 towns and cities. “This is an excellent example of the unifying force of rail and the benefits of the Trans-European Transport Network”, says CER.
CER welcomes the current revision of TEN-T Regulation 1315/2013 this December and invites the European Commission to consider the importance of including the Western Balkans in its proposals.
Athens is also a suitable interim stop for container ships from the Suez canal to Western Europe; more urgently needed goods could then be offloaded at Athens for speedier transport at the remaining route.