Policy Areas

Transport and Communications

Under the EEA Agreement Norway is a full participant in the internal market in the fields of transport and communications.





Transport and communications are vital for uniting markets and people. It is difficult to conceive of vigorous economic growth capable of creating jobs and wealth without an efficient transport system that allows full advantage to be taken of the internal market and globalised trade. At the beginning of the 21st century we are entering the era of the information society, where advanced telecommunications and information technologies help people and businesses to communicate in a more efficient and sustainable way, thus producing added value.

Hence transport and communications are essential to the European Economic Area. Therefore, Norway has, through the EEA Agreement, accepted the same legal obligations as the EU Member States, and has also supported other relevant initiatives taken by the European Union in the transport and communications sectors. Thus, under the Agreement Norway is also a full participant in the internal market in the fields of transport and communications.

The enlargement of the European Union by 10 new member countries as of 2004 has also implied a considerable geographical extension of the European Economic Area. Integrating the transport systems of these countries into the internal transport market will be a huge challenge and will require legislation designed to ensure economic efficiency, social responsibility and sustainable development.

Transport is the single most significant factor uniting markets and people across borders and can act as a motor of economic change. Transport has thus been a major focus of Community attention.

The European Common Transport Policy has in recent years been seeking to ensure free market access in all transport sectors and to promote safety and sustainable mobility, and has established transport networks (TENs), giving access to distant markets and international trade.  The White Paper on European Transport Policy 2010 – Time to decide, published in 2001, contains the basic strategies to be followed. The White Paper can be found on the website of
DG Energy and Transport.

Road transport: Most passenger (78 per cent in 2001 for EU 15) and goods traffic (45 per cent in 2001 for EU 15) goes by road in the EU. The internal market for goods transport by road has been fully liberalised since the late 1990s, while passenger transport by bus and coach is in the process of deregulation. Recent legislative initiatives have to a large extent focussed on traffic safety and sustainable mobility. A Commission recommendation (non-binding) on the maximum alcohol blood content for drivers was adopted in 2001, a regulation for the purposes of establishing a driver attestation for professional drivers was adopted in March 2002, and a directive on the installation and use of speed limiting devices for certain motor vehicles was adopted in September 2002.

A number of proposals for Community acts have been adopted. These include a directive on the training of professional drivers for the carriage of goods and passengers and a regulation on the harmonisation of certain social legislation (driving times, breaks, etc.) relating to road transport.

Railways: The railways account for a declining share of the total transport market. In 1999 they were responsible for 8.4 per cent of goods traffic and 6 per cent of passenger traffic. Historically the railways have been organised as state-owned monopolies responsible both for infrastructure management and for operations. The EU is now aiming to revitalise its railways and create a genuine internal market for rail transport. The “Railway package I”, which has been adopted by the EU, contains rules on the separation of traffic and infrastructure. Access for international freight transport services was opened in March 2003 for 50 000 km of the national section of the trans-European rail freight network (TERFN), and will be opened in 2008 in regard to entire freight network.

On 23 January 2001 the Commission adopted a new package (“Railway package II”) of measures to rapidly establish an integrated European railway area. The package comprises directives on the safety of Community railways, on the interoperability of the Trans-European rail system, and on the future liberalisation of Community railways. It also includes a proposal for a Regulation on establishing a European Railway Agency.

Public transport: In line with the subsidiarity principle, the Commission emphasises the exchange of good practices for the purpose of making better use of public transport and existing infrastructure, e.g. the Civitas initiative, the promotion of the increased use of clean vehicles and of forms of public transport accessible to all users, and, finally, the identification and dissemination of best urban transport system practices.

In the light of a series of amendments adopted by the European Parliament at its first reading, the Commission on 22 February 2002 presented an amended proposal for a regulation concerning public service requirements and the award of public service contracts. The main objective of the proposal is to stimulate more efficient and attractive public transport through the use of controlled competition. The proposal is to apply to the national and international operation of public passenger transport by rail, road and inland waterways. The proposal is still awaiting a common position in Council.

Aviation: The internal aviation market has been fully liberalised since the mid-1990s. The air transport industry was seriously hit by the terrorist attacks in the USA on 11 September 2001. The Commission has authorised Member States to grant emergency aid measures, e.g. covering risk insurance policies, and have adopted a regulation on minimum requirements for insurance coverage for air carriers and aircraft operators. Common rules for civil aviation security at airports were adopted through a conciliation process between the Council of the EU and the European Parliament in October 2002. On 11 January 2002 the Commission also proposed a regulation on common rules for the allocation of slots at Community airports, entitling air carriers to the same series of slots. This proposal is currently awaiting its 1st reading in the European Parliament.

The Single European Sky (SES) package and the establishment of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) have been adopted. The objective of these initiatives is to improve air traffic management on a European scale and achieve and maintain a uniformly high level of safety and environmental protection in the Community. A political agreement on the SES package was reached in December 2002. A regulation on compensation and assistance to air passengers in case of denied boarding has also been adopted.

A number of aviation issues are also under consideration, such as:

A directive on aircraft noise (1st reading in the European Parliament)

A directive on occurrence reporting in civil aviation (adopted in the Council)

A regulation on the harmonisation of technical requirements and administrative procedures (awaiting a common position in the Council)

A directive on safety requirements and attestation of professional competence for cabin crew in civil aviation (awaiting a common position in the Council);

Ports: Although this service sector is essential for the functioning of the Community’s ports and hence for its trade, so far there has been no specific Community regulatory framework for port services. Thus in February 2001 the Commission introduced a proposal for a Directive on market access to port services, opening up different service sectors for competition. The Directive was adopted in the Council in June 2002, while still awaiting its 2nd reading in the European Parliament.

Marco Polo: In February 2002 the Commission proposed the Marco Polo programme. The objective of the programme is to shift 60 billion tonne-kilometres of road cargo to short sea shipping and railways. Large-scale pilot projects will kick-start a new market for clean, cost-effective intermodal international freight services. The programme is intended to be fully operational in 2003, when it has been approved by the Council of the EU and the European Parliament. The framework budget is still being discussed.

Galileo: The Galileo satellite radio navigation system is intended to provide information on the positioning of users in many sectors, such as transport. In April 2001 the Council adopted a resolution on the Galileo project giving the go-ahead to a two-stage launching of the development phase of this project. A Regulation was adopted in June 2002 on the establishment of a joint undertaking for the development phase of the project. The development phase is scheduled to be terminated by the end of 2005. For more information see Galileo.

The telecommunications markets in most of the Member States have been fully liberalised since 1 January 1998. The major challenge for European policy seems to be to ensure the effective implementation of the regulatory framework for electronic communications and to strengthen competition in electronic communications markets. On 12 July 2000 the Commission presented proposals for an overhaul of the rules for electronic communications. For more information on the regulatory package, see the website of the European Commission on the Information Society.

New regulatory package:  The new regulatory package consists of the framework directive and four specific directives: authorisation, access and interconnection, universal service and user rights, and data protection in telecommunications services (in addition there is a regulation on unbundling access to local loop, a liberalisation directive and a decision on Community radio spectrum policy). This new package will considerably simplify and clarify the existing regulatory framework. The Council and the European Parliament agreed on 12 December 2001 on the framework directive and three of the specific directives. The Council finally adopted this package on 14 February 2002. The data protection directive was formally adopted 25 June 2002 and the total package was implemented in the Member States in June 2003.

The postal sector in the European Union is undergoing changes beyond the current adopted framework. Information on the impact of liberalisation measures on the sector is available on updated information.

Opening to competition:  On 10 June 2002 the European Parliament and the Council amended Directive 97/67/EC with regard to the further opening to competition of the Community postal services. The directive provides a timetable for a gradual and controlled opening of the letters market to competition. Member States may continue to reserve universal postal services to universal service provider(s) within the limits of 100 g/3xtariff from 2003 and 50 g/2.5xtariff from 2006. The final, decisive opening up of the market is intended to take place in 2009.

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Minister of Transport and Communications, Liv Signe Navarsete.Photo: Ministry of Transport and Communications.