CEF support to North Sea-Mediterranean Corridor - April 2018
The North Sea-Mediterranean Corridor stretches from the Scottish capital Edinburgh in the north, to the French ports of Marseille and Fos-sur-Mer in the south; passing through Ireland, England, the Low Countries and the French capital, before skirting the French/German boarder en-route south. When complete, the corridor will offer enhanced multimodal links between North Sea ports, major European rivers basins (the Maas, Rhine, Scheldt, Seine, Saone and Rhone) and the southern French ports of Fos-sur-Mer and Marseille. It will also improve links between the British Isles and Continental Europe. The corridor incorporates Priority Projects 2, 13, 14, 26, 28 and 30.
Main bottlenecks and missing links
On the ‘continental side’, inland waterways represent the biggest challenge, with missing links and bottlenecks identified between the Seine and the Scheldt, and between the Rhine and the Rhone. Of these, the Canal Seine-Escaut is the most high profile project under development. In addition to inland waterways, the cross-border, Brussels-Luxembourg-Lyon rail connections need to be upgraded to be able to compete with road transport. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, rail connections present the most significant challenge; in particular the Belfast-Dublin and the Dublin-Cork connections and the Dublin Area Rapid Transit (DART) project.
In 2010, Europe’s first cross-border, high-speed passenger rail link (Priority Project 2) entered into operation. The London-Paris-Brussels-Köln-Amsterdam link includes major cross-border initiatives, such as the Channel Tunnel, and has fostered major changes in traffic flows between these economic centers. The period since the completion of the link has seen an important growth in traffic, combined with a strong modal shift from air and road transport to rail - due in large part to significant reductions in travel times and the added convenience offered by increases in the number of services offered. Eurostar now attracts more than 60 % of traffic between London and Paris. The high-speed Rhine-Rhone project incorporates three branches (east, west, south) that will connect the high-speed network around Lyon to high-speed networks in eastern France, Switzerland and Germany. The first phase of the new eastern branch, Dijon-Mulhouse (190 km), was opened on 11 December 2011. This significantly cut travel times between Strasbourg and Lyon from 3 hrs 40 mins to 4 hrs 45 mins and has reduced journey times between Frankfurt and Lyon by 1 hr 15 mins.
CEF: Pre-identified projects
European Coordinator for the TEN-T North Sea-Mediterranean Corridor, Mr Péter Balázs
Mr Péter Balázs was born on 5 December 1941, in Kecskemét, Hungary. Mr Balázs was appointed European Coordinator for the TEN-T North Sea-Mediterranean Corridor on 12 March 2014. Mr Balázs has previously been European Coordinator for the TEN-T Priority Project 17 (Paris-Bratislava) for the period July 2005 to April 2009 and again from 8 June 2010 to 31 December 2013.
2009-2010: Minister for Foreign Affairs in Hungary
2005-2009: Central European University, Budapest: Professor
2004: Member of the European Commission, responsible for regional policy
2003-2004: Permanent Representation of Hungary to the European Union: Ambassador (Coreper II)
2002-2003: Ministry of Foreign Affairs: State Secretary for Integration and External Economic Relations. Hungarian Government Representative in the European Convention
2000-2002: Budapest University of Economics and Public Administration: Professor
1997-2000: Hungarian Embassy: Ambassador in Bonn and Berlin
1994-1996: Hungarian Embassy: Ambassador in Copenhagen
1992-1993: Ministry of Industry and Trade: Permanent State Secretary supervising the sectors of industry, energy, building industry, trade and tourism
1988-1992: Ministry of International Economic Relations: Director General for multilateral relations
1987-1988: Prime Minister’s Office: responsible for international economic organisations
1982-1987: Hungarian Embassy, Brussels: Counselor in charge of the EC
1969-1982: Ministry of Foreign Trade: Desk Officer, Director
1963-1968: "Elektroimpex" Hungarian Foreign Trading Co.: Economist
Professor in the Department of International Relations and European Studies at Central European University, Budapest (since 2010)
Adoption of the Seine – Scheldt Implementing Decision, 27 June 2019
The European Commission has adopted on 27 June 2019 the Implementing Decision laying down the steps and timeline to complete the Seine-Scheldt cross-border project. This Decision was elaborated under the supervision of European Coordinator Prof. Péter Balázs, in close cooperation with France and the Belgian regions of Flanders and Wallonia.
See also the press release.
Joint seminar of the MoS, NSM and ATL Coordinators on “Ireland’s European Connectivity”, Dublin, 16-17 April 2019
On 16-17 April 2019, the European Coordinators for Motorways of the Sea, the North-Sea Mediterranean and the Atlantic Corridor invited to a joint seminar on “Ireland’s European Connectivity – ports and maritime links in the Atlantic sea basin”. In the context of a possible Brexit, the connectivity of Ireland to continental Europe is very much challenged. This seminar aimed at looking at the current and future transport flows in the Atlantic sea basin, the current state of preparations and logistic solutions by the maritime sector as well as ways for a reinforced cooperation of all Atlantic stakeholders. Please find further details in the press release.
Seminar of the European Coordinators, 5 October 2018, Brussels
European Coordinators gathered in Brussels on 5 October 2018 to discuss topics of common concern, such as the further evolution of the TEN-T and the state of play of the Commission proposal on a Connecting Europe Facility 2. Horizontal priorities (ERTMS and Motorways of the Sea), cross-border cooperation, military mobility were also on the agenda. Coordinators welcomed Ms Jensen, Ms Radicova and Mr Ruete as new members of the team and expressed their gratitude to Mr Brinkhorst and Mr Simpson whose mandate as Coordinator ended on 15 September 2018.
Visit to Ireland, 3-4 April 2017
As part of keeping close contact with the member States along the North Sea – Mediterranean Corridor, European Coordinator Professor Péter Balázs visited Ireland in the days of 3rd and 4th of April 2017.
An extensive programme had been prepared by the Irish Department for Transport, Tourism and Sport including visits to Limerick, Shannon Foynes Port and Dublin Port Company.
During the visit to Shannon Foynes Port a meeting to discuss the future closer involvement of the port into the corridor was discussed with members of the port management headed by the CEO Pat Keating. At the meeting and lunch with Shannon Foynes also MEP Deirdre Clune (EPP) and the minister of state Patrick O'Donovan were present and the conversation was to some extent focused on the unknown consequences of Brexit. The European Coordinator was firm in reassuring than he would do all he could to keep Ireland closely involved in the corridor work.
In Limerick a meeting took place with representatives of the Port of Cork (Henry Kingston and Paul O Regan) informing about the challenges and possibilities of establishing more capacity in the port. Also during this meeting the various issues related to Brexit was discussed. Motorways of the Sea was mentioned as a tool to secure close cooperation between the Irish ports and mainland Europe.
On the second day of the visit to Ireland a visit to Port of Dublin took place including a boat trip around the port area to view the plans for the extension of the port area and capacity.
The CEO Michael Sheary hosted the visit. A specific meeting in the ministry focusing on Brexit took place in order for the ministry to present various issues in the NSMED Corridor which might be influence by the leave of UK from EU – not least the question of the UK land bridge becoming unviable and due to divergence of road tolls and extra administration burdens when the UK is no longer an EU Member. The UK is after all the biggest trading partner of Ireland especially if Northern Ireland is included. In the afternoon a fruitful meeting with the minister Shane Ross (Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport) took place in the parliament building.
There was a clear wish for close cooperation between the minister and the European Coordinator in strengthening the corridor and continue the finalisation of the many projects along the corridor – not least the major port projects.
Professor Péter Balázs was accompanied by his advisor from DG Move Andreas Faergemann on the mission.
Visit to Paris on 8 March 2017 Meeting in the French Senate
As part of his task as European Coordinator for the North Sea – Mediterranean Corridor Professor Péter Balázs attended on 8 March 2017 a conference in the French Senate to debate the question on Inland Waterways in France. The meeting in the Senate was chaired by M. André Rossinot representing the association Seine-Moselle-Rhône. Also M. Gérard Larcher the Chariman of the Senate was present modifying the debate.
A number of studies were presented lining out the added value of increased capacity on the IWW system in France with the view to a broader discussion of the outlook of inland waterways in France and Europe. Obviously the main project remains the full establishment of Seine-Nord Europe as part of the major cross border project of the seine-Escaut/Seine-Scheldt.
During the meeting in the ordinary general meeting of the association Seine-Moselle-Rhône took place. Professor Balázs gave a key note speech about the corridor with a focus on French IWW projects including the need for continued financial support and priority of the French government.
The European Coordinator pointed out that Saône Mosel project is postponed beyond the horizon of the present planning of the corridor; clearly beyond 2030 as pointed out in the Comité 21 report, with 2050 horizon affects opening to the south and Mediterranean. Mr. Rossinot when meeting the coordinator at a working group for regions in Metz was open to Seine-Scheldt project, and keen to promote Mosel, including development of ports along the Mosel which are cooperating in order to become major logistic centers and face competition with rail/road logistic centers of Luxembourg and also opening Mosel to the south using general wording which means to my opinion
However a question remains: concerning the priority between Saône Mosel and Saône Rhine branches of a project which was presented as a Saône Rhine/Saône Mosel project as a whole in the recent years in an attempt to avoid competition between the two branches.
Saône Rhine branch has been lobbied for by another association coming in particular from Alsace. However they all belong now to the same "Grand Est" region and such debate has become indeed a new regional internal debate which might have not much progressed.
These are the lines along which an EU corridor "planner" could build an open intervention for developments of territories along NSM corridor.
Concerning Seine-Est project and construction of a new link between Seine and Mosel, this did not come forward, indeed, for a long time. Perhaps minor projects along the existing canal with limited gauge could be promoted, and/or a possible improvement of IWT services within capillary networks (for example for building materials or agricultural products or waste).
For connections between Saône, Mosel and Rhine basins, the most recent studies did not enter the debate of choice between branches so far, nor the choice of possible routes for each of the two branches, which is also not an easy one.
After the debate in the Senate the Coordinated attended a networking reception/lunch with members of the French Parliament.
Visit to the Netherlands, 8-9 September 2016
As part of his task as European Coordinator for the North Sea-Mediterranean Corridor, professor Peter Balázs conducted a visit to two projects in the region of Noord-Brabant in the Netherlands.
On 8 September the Coordinator visited Roosendaal to visit a large scale pipeline installation connecting the chemical plants of Moerdijk to the hinterland and further on towards Germany. The pipelines transport dangerous goods as well as gas and oil. The region would like to expand the use of pipelines and seek to have such a transport recognised as an innovative way of transporting goods.
During a debate which included participants from the regional government as well as stakeholders, companies and representatives from Flanders, the Coordinator expressed an interest in the idea of further development of the use of pipelines in the future.
On 9 September the Coordinator conducted a visit to the Port of Moerdijk to examine a rail-link project to develop further capacity to move goods by rail from the port to the rail net in the hinterland. The current link is one tracked. During the visit there was a test drive with the train on the existing tracks and a visit of the port. After the field visit a discussion between companies located in the port, the Dutch government and regional government took place in the port offices. The representative of the Dutch government pointed out that at the current stage, the national budget for infrastructure upgrading has been allocated until 2028-29. The representatives of the companies expressed disappointment about this situation and consulted the Coordinator of how to push forward the project which was not retained in the 2014 call due to a limited budget (2014-NL-TM-0157-S). The Coordinator recommended that the project is put forward again when the next call is published and further to this urging the stakeholders + the port to think in alternative financing schemes such as the Juncker plan or involving the EIB where the Coordinator would be happy to facilitate the contact.
In the evening of the 8 September there was a dinner hosted by the Regional minister for Economic and International Affairs Mr. L.W.L. Pauli where a range of issues regarding upgrading the infrastructure of the Netherlands was discussed.
Visit of project Seine-Escaut (Part 3, Wallonia) 19 July 2016
The visit, which was organized by the Service Public de Wallonie, as part of a series of three visits in France, Flanders and Wallonia, included some presentations on the Seine Escaut project, both under TEN-T and CEF and its activities and progress in Wallonia so far:
Presentation no 1 focused on the historical and current context of Seine-Escaut, the Walloon IWW network (450 KM including 365 KM of TEN-T waterways), and objectives towards 2025 including a network better connected to Flanders, France and the Netherlands.
Presentation no 2 focused on progress achieved under the TEN-T project which indicated the precise level of achievement. Much has been achieved, activities 4, 5, 8 & 10 fully completed; activities 9 & 11 partly completed.
Presentation no 3 focused on the technical aspects of the project and presented the different works, especially the crossing of Tournai which presents many operational and political difficulties due to the modification of historical infrastructure objects. A reasonable compromise had to be found between the needs of safe passage for CEMT Va vessels and the need to preserve as much as possible the original character of Tournai city centre.
A visit to Canal Pommeroeul-Condé was organised to show the extent of works needed on both sides of the BE and FR border which require cross-border coordination.
The mission was extremely useful to gain a clear vision of what Wallonia is achieving through the Seine Scheldt global project and on its approach on IWW infrastructure works.
Visit of project Seine-Escaut (Part 2, Flanders) 18 July 2016
The visit, which was organized by Waterwegen en Zeekanaal, as part of a series of three visits in France, Flanders and Wallonia, included some presentations on the Seine Escaut project, both under TEN-T and CEF and its activities and progress in Flanders so far:
The project has evolved from one focusing on the Lys from the border to Gent, to a project with a larger scope including connections to the sea ports and Scheldt.
The Lys works were presented- the objective being to increase its capacity from CEMT IV to Vb (1 direction) with bridge under clearance raised to 7m (8 bridges concerned) and areas for barges to cross each other. Infrastructure works have been integrated with an important environmental rehabilitation dimension.
Locks are being upgraded to CEMT Vb : Everghem put into service in 2009 (TEN-T); St Baafs Vijve, publication of the tender foreseen in 2017.
In Harelbeke, major works are on-going to upgrade the lock and banks in the city centre. In Wervik too, works are on-going to calibrate the river and build new banks on the left side. The bridge is to be lifted to 7m. W&Z is following a generic bridge design approach in order to create an identity for the Lys and to cut costs. W&z has also explained that increasingly the waterways are part of the urban and residential development strategy; this has to be taken into account when planning the works.
Concerning cross-border works through Wervik/Wervicq, cooperation and coordination between BE (Flanders) and FR is on-going: a treaty is being negotiated; agreements on works and maintenance are also under elaboration.
Other waterways- W&Z is looking into ways to improve the access to the port of Zeebrugge, the main bottlenecks being in the city of Brugge. Improvements to the canals Roelers-Lys and Bossuit-Kortrijk where much industrial activity is taking place are foreseen.
Same for the tidal Upper-Sea Scheldt, Dender and Brussels-Charleroi canal
Other presentations were given on (i) Flanders' feedback on NSMED issue paper on multimodality: general appreciation of the paper but disappointment that digitalisation & automatisation in the IWT was not covered; (ii) automation and innovation: W&Z explained that Flanders is putting a strong emphasis on digitalisation & ICT, focusing on the automatisation of operational processes in the exploitation of waterways, simplification and standardisation of key activities, cross-border information exchange.
Visit to the Seine-Escaut global project – visit to Seine-Nord in France 12 July 2016
The visit, which was organized by VNF, as part of a series of three visits in France, Flanders and Wallonia, included a large number of presentations on activities and progress in France so far. It focused on the construction of the Canal Seine Nord Europe but also included a description of activities and progress in other parts of the project Seine Escaut and related projects.
Canal Seine Nord Europe: a detailed presentation of the project history, review ('reconfiguration'), and recent achievements was given. The structure, organisation and specificities of construction works for each for each of the canal sectors were described. The project approach 'démarche grand chantier' which is also used for Lyon-Turin was described, it revolves around 5 main themes and to date 15 working groups involving about 300 stakeholders have been set up.
Other activities (studies for Oise, Nord Pas De Calais, Seine Aval): a detailed presentation of the activities and subactivities was given. These concern studies preparing the ground for works which are not included in the Action and for which the concerned services are seeking funding and hoping that EU support will be made available in the near/medium future.
Prof. Balazs indicated that he will take account of progress in the Seine Escaut project in his second work plan which is currently being prepared.
Olivier Rolin, deputy director at the Ministry, underlined the necessity for the EU to make a political commitment on continued support for the project beyond 2020, so as to reassure the different stakeholders and in particular the local territories which are co-funding the works. He also expressed his wish to include in the (amended) grant agreement, a number of activities that were kept outside the GA signed last year (but that were in the application).
Visit to Marseille, 10th – 11th February 2016
As part of his task as European Coordinator for the North Sea – Mediterranean Corridor, Professor Péter Balázs paid an extensive visit to Port of Marseille-Fos on 10th and 11th February 2016.
The coordinator was shown the entire port complex including container terminals and ferry port.
The coordinator was accompanied on the visit by representatives of the port and held during the visit meetings with the CEO Mrs. Christine Cabau Woehrel and the secretary general of UMF – Union Maritime et Fleuviale de Marseille-Fos Mrs. Marie-Hélène Pasquier. During a formal working-dinner also representatives of the City Council of Marseille was present.
The main topic of the many talks held by the Coordinator during his visit was concentration around multimodal solutions, hinterland connections and capacity development in the Port. As the second biggest city in France and with the significant role the port as largest port in France plays is became obvious that the Port in its ambitions is very focused on the various transport links to the rest of Europe – not least the part played by rail link as one of the sections of the North sea – Mediterranean Corridor.
The CEO Mrs. Cabau gave an extensive presentation of the Port development plan, and pointed out, that the port is both architect of logistics and industrial solutions, a multipurpose serving centre in the land and port integrated territory, is orientated towards energy diversification and transition as well as a total innovation of the port.
The CEO showed a remarkable dynamism and understanding of the importance of establishing the TEN-T corridors – not least the North Sea – Mediterranean and the Mediterranean corridor which crosses in Marseille. The ports are most interested in an active cooperation with various investments schemes including the optimal use of EIB as investment too.
The port plays an active role in the Corridor Forum and in the Working Group on IWW and Ports + inland ports. It was agreed to stay in close contact and pursue further the options for cooperation of several modes of transport and connections towards the north along the corridor.
Mr Péter Balázs, European Coordinator
To contact Mr Balázs, please use the advisor email below
Mr Alexis Padoy, Adviser of the European Coordinator
North Sea-Mediterranean CNC / TEN-T
Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport
Rue de Mot 28