ACROSSEE, Accessibility improved at border CROSsings for the integration of South East Europe, SEE/D/0093/3.3/X was a project co-financed by the EU Transnational Cooperation Programme "South-East Europe", working in line with the new EU TEN-T Guidelines and aiming at improving cross-border accessibility in the South -East Europe Area. This objective was reached by promoting prioritization and optimization of the existing network and extending the EU transport network to the Western Balkans.
CHALLENGES AND OBJECTIVES
Despite projections and efforts for Europe's rapid growth, doubts on rail freight's capability still persist. Since 1990s the EU has been promoting greater interoperability on its inland rail freight, still these measures are highly criticised as insufficient, whereas the co-operation for easing problems on cross-border issues is still stagnating. Furthermore, due to the extension of the EU rail network to the new member, candidate and accession countries new opportunities for the rail freight are open but not fully exploited due to several causes:
- lack of investments' co-ordination
- unbalanced openness to the market
- unexploited potential of the intermodal connectivity
- slow improvements in the TEN-T network completion in the SEE area
- economic pressure deriving from the international trade and rising consumption patterns.
The current situation presents relevant affirmation of the road transport despite the growing market for international rail freight transport, in particular among the main international corridors. On the other hand railway transport is still affected by high transit time, mainly due to the long processing times at rail border-crossing points in the SEE, but also by other problems that hamper its optimization such as certificates and cabotage issuing, language and permits of stay.
It is furthermore important to consider that in the South East Europe Area, there is a great number of border crossing stations that are characterized by long waiting times, different customs services, burdensome administrative procedures that cause trade costs for manufacturers and importers/exporters, in particular in the rail freight transport.
Within this context, the ACROSSEE project aims at improving cross-border accessibility in the SEE area and at coordination enhancement among SEE national administrations, in the light of EU legislation with a threefold general objective:
- to contribute to the extension of the TEN-T network and optimise the existing SEE network implementation with the aim of fostering intermodality and co-modality on transnational corridors and of reaching the White Paper targets by linking different regional strategies of SEE, including the Western Balkans and the traffic generators from Russia/Ukraine, Turkey and Suez.
- to adopt a common transport model for the entire South East Area, integrated with the rest of Europe and compatible with the current EU system, adequate to be exploited also by public administrations and transport operators
- to improve the cross-border accessibility of the freight flows and adopt concrete measures in order to cut the running time in the cross-border points and ease up the existing bottlenecks in the SEE area, as well as to increase operations' transparency.
The main aim of the project was achieved through several specific objectives:
- Status and needs analysis of the existing cross borders sections
- Optimisation of the TEN-T planning in relation to the current and future traffic flows
- Contribution to the international borders management optimisation, that includes reducing crossborder transit time, increasing regional and international trade by improving border crossings, and ensuring the compatibility of national trade facilitation measures with markets and administrative procedures
- Goods and mobility facilitation across borders by improving infrastructures facilities and institutional capacities
- Promotion of an Integrated Border Management Strategy
- Reduction of non-tariff costs on trade and transport by strengthening and modernising customs administrations and other border agencies
- Efforts integration of the participating national authorities and European Commission in the context of the TEN-T extension to the Western Balkans to jointly align national procedures to EU standards
- Contribution to the new EU Financial Framework 2013-2020 through pilot actions and recommendations
- Creation of the first geo-referential model for the South East Europe and for the Western Balkans
- Promotion of economic cooperation among countries in the region by focusing on efficient transit
- Involvement of various actors responsible for the organisation of transport, through networking and
- exchange of information activities;
- integration and coordination among organising authorities, cities and rural communities and operators at all levels: strategic, planning and technical;
- multi-modal transport action plans development aimed at relieving missing links along cross-border
The project was structured in 5 Work Packages (WP) consisting of specific actions.
Work package 3: The WP was coordinated by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Transport Innovation and Technology. It promoted institutional and stakeholders cooperation to contribute with its activities to the macro-regional strategies: Danube strategy, Western Balkans integration and South East Europe. By these actions partners wished to create an Institutional forum and promote effective multilevel governance to complete the implementation of the TEN-T network crossing the SEE area through the activation of interventions to foster administrative cooperation for the procedures standardization.
The partners established an institutional multilevel platform and promoted administrative cooperation in order to complete and extend the implementation of the TEN-T network and to enhance cooperation among relevant stakeholders with the aim of improving national and regional strategic plans.
Work package 4: The WP was coordinated by the Central European Initiative (CEI), project lead partner. Within this WP partners elaborated an integrated transport model completed with the inclusion of local and international flows.
The WP4 foresaw activities of collection of necessary, adequate and updated data associated to the demand analysis and traffic forecasting. Then, a geo-referenced model was established, as a visualisation and analysis tool, to support the other project activities, the decision making process, as well as the web toolbox available to all interested parties (public administrations, transport operators) and to wider public.
Work package 5: The WP was coordinated by Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, that elaborated an action plan for cross-border points and bottlenecks in South East Europe Area and for the facilitation of the trans-national flows.
Thanks to the project a joint proposal for administrative standardisation and concrete plan for cutting transit time on EU corridors and Western Balkans comprehensive network were elaborated. A Field survey on 30 selected rail border crossing points in the whole South East Europe Area and field survey on 35 road selected crossing sections will be conducted.