FIA Meeting with the EU Commissioner for Regional Policy
On Thursday 16 May, the EU Commissioner with responsibility for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, met with FIA President Jean Todt and Region I Club Presidents (including newly elected FIA Region I President Thierry Willemarck) to discuss European regional policy and its impact on transport. The meeting took place during the FIA Region I Spring Meeting, held in Vienna from 13 May – 17 May 2013.
Commissioner Hahn noted that regional policy is the main financing source for transport-related projects in the EU. He said that approximately €40.1 billion had been spent over the past 7 years on structural funding including 50,000 km new roads and 32,000 km of upgraded road infrastructure. The Connecting Europe Facility (the completion of key transport networks EU-wide) would have a fund of approximately €23 billion in Europe, Hahn said.
The Commissioner said that structural funds were focussed on development in the Member States of the EU which have joined since 2004. Investment is targeted at the modernising of infrastructure - not only roads but also seaports, airports, etc. He also noted the importance of funding Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) to support an interoperable transport system.
Urban issues are now a major priority for the funds, Hahn said. With the onset of climate change, tackling the 80% of emissions coming from cities is key, with the focus of transport spending now more strategic: funds are targeted at increased connectivity, ITS, and sustainability.
During a question and answer session with FIA Region I Club Presidents, the Commissioner noted the availability of rural development funds to finance secondary roads, and gave his support for the involvement of Automobile Clubs in discussions on the European Strategy for the Danube.
FIA Region I President Thierry Willemarck said, “We appreciate the time the Commissioner has taken to meet with us to discuss future regional development plans for the EU. This work will be key for the modernisation of the EU transport network. Through the experience and expertise of our Clubs, we can contribute towards the development of a safe and sustainable network for all.”
FIA Region I represents 108 Automobile and Touring Clubs and their 38 million members across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.