National Transport Policies and Common Transport Policy in Comparative Perspective



National Transport Policies and Common Transport Policy in Comparative Perspective

Authors

GIORGI L and FREUDENSPRUNG P, ICCR, Austria

Description

The White Paper on Growth, Competitiveness and Employment outlines the mission of the European Union towards the 21 't century as that of achieving the free movement of goods, people and capital to improve the competitiveness of its Member States in the g

Abstract

The White Paper on Growth, Competitiveness and Employment outlines the mission of the European Union towards the 21 't century as that of achieving the free movement of goods, people and capital to improve the competitiveness of its Member States in the global market as well as the living conditions of its citizens. However, through the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty, which formally marks the establishment of the European Union on the basis of the European Community, the European project has also assumed a strong political dimension which will have far-going implications in terms of the development of policy at the supra-national level.

This is also evidenced in the transport field: transport has gradually come to comprise one of the main fields of concern of European policy, with a continuously expanding scope for action. The increasing engagement of the European Union services in the field of transport policy also marks a shift from a rather narrow approach in dealing with transport market issues-consisting mainly in facilitating competition in the global market through reducing transaction costs for business activities--to a fairly comprehensive approach that considers competition and economic growth in the framework of sustainable development that pays attention to environmental and social issues.

In this connection, the subsidiarity principle constitutes a cornerstone of the European project of integration insofar as it legitimises decision-making and political action at the supra-national, yet at the same time regional, levels in areas where the latter can claim to command the best level of information and basis for action-oriented intervention. Transport and the environment--two closely inter-related fields, as this report will show--are two such areas where common European action is deemed necessary if the goals of growth, competitiveness and sustainable mobility are to be achieved.

Still, currently, the national governments remain the most powerful actors on the European level, not very wi[ling to give away competencies, be it to the European or the regional level, and often seeking to use the principle of subsidiarity for their own benefit, i.e. by arguing that various policy issues, including transport, are best dealt with at the national level. The problem, as this reporf will show, is more than simply one of interpretation--be it in terms of form or content--or even of power relations; it is rather a problem inherent to the process of transition away from the model of strong political economy and system of fixed social relations, necessitated, among others, by the gradual, yet steady, increase of external costs. Inevitably, however, this process of transformation, which is ultimately what the project of European integration represents, raises questions about the allocation of competencies and about democratic procedures. Within the institutional framework of the European Union, the Council, where the Member States are directly represented, still remains the most powerful decision-making organ; the Commission and the Parliament are nevertheless trying to increase their decision-making powers relatively to those of the Council; the outcome of a possible shift of power is also of relevance for transport policy.

These changes are paralleled by equally interesting structural changes at the national level and in relation to the regions. As will be shown, a process of decentralisation of political power can be observed in practically all countries, partly enforced through social movements centred around regional identity and often organised around ecological concerns.

The report that follows lays a strong emphasis on the analysis of the context of decision-making at European level and at the national level in relation to transport. The undedying hypothesis is that such an analysis of the variation of the regulatory environment in relation to transport is necessary to understand the differences in terms of the set of substantial argumentation, and what is more important, in order to develop strategies for overcoming them and reaching consensus.

The section that follows discusses the transport policy environment at European level and at the national level in comparative perspective. It concludes with an overview of the main patterns of conflict at both these levels. Section 3, discusses the major trends and development in the field of transport planning and management and in relation to the objectives set out by the Common Transport Policy. Section 4 summarises the main problems encountered in the implementation process. The final section summadses the findings and conclusion.

Publisher

Association for European Transport