On the 23/3/2011 “Partners in Dialogue”, under the patronage of the Mission of Switzerland to the EU, addressed the challenge of green, efficient and affordable transport in Europe. The speakers discussed the latest developments in transport policy and sought answers to the following questions:

  • Can the “modal shift” as applied today in the sensitive Alpine regions become a model on a broader EU scale?
  • According to the European Commission, in order to achieve ambitious CO2 targets, more freight will have to be shipped on barges and trains, therefore how can we accelerate movement in this direction?
  • Are EU’s co-financing schemes enough for achieving an effective TEN-T?
  • Could there be a harmonised approach for all the Member States and how can this be ensured?
  • The European Commission is moving towards the liberalisation and unbundling of the rail market. Which issues should be taken into consideration when revising the competition policy of the rail markets?

The evening debate was opened by H.E Mr. Jacques de Watteville, Ambassador of Switzerland to the European Union. There is a close partnership in transport between the EU and Switzerland, this partnership is ground for a new common challenge, implementing greener transport policies. Both the EU and Switzerland are on the search for new efficient solutions for transport and means to finance them.

MEP Eva Lichtenberger (AT/Greens) saw two sides for transport policy, Paper vs. Reality. There is a strong desire for good legislation, but in reality, mainly due to lack of finance, implementation is problematic. Lichtenberger brought TEN-T as an example, it has many great projects but the lack of finance is holding back their implementation.

Andreas Meyer (CEO of the Swiss Federal Railway) explained that since Switzerland is considerably smaller than the EU, it is easier to successfully implement transport legislation. For example, in the last 10 years, Switzerland showed higher usage of train transport than the EU.

Jean-Eric Paquet (Director, DG MOVE) described Switzerland’s transport policy as complimentary to the EU transport policy. The 2 main drivers behind both the EU and Switzerland transport policy are competition and sustainable transport. However, as Switzerland is smaller than the EU, it is by far easier to have better implementation of the legislation. As traffic will continue to grow, both must search for more sustainable means of transport, such as rail. The EU need better coordination of investments to finance transport policies.

Gregor Saladin (Head of Communication, Swiss Federal Office of Transport) emphasized that in order to achieve successful green transport; each country must collaborate with its neighbouring countries.

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