In addition to the establishment of the new rail freight corridor, officials from the relative ministries of the EU’s member states accepted the report on regulations proposals that will have a major effect on the work of freight transport companies abroad and conducted a political debate on the possible solutions to the reorganisation and unification of road toll systems as the session of the Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council on 5 December 2017 in Brussels.

In its progress report, the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union summarised the results so far with relation to detailed negotiations on the four legislative proposals on the social and internal market pillars of rail transport, which form part of the Mobility Package. Minister of State for Transport Policy Róbert Homolya once again indicated: The realisation of these regulatory proposals could hit primarily Central European freight transport companies with extra costs and administrative burdens. Finding a solution that is both applicable in practice and fair is not only in the interests of Hungary; the issue also affects the competitiveness of the whole European Union. The restriction of the basic right to provide services and the free movement of goods on an ideological and unfounded basis could lead to the irreparable distortion of the European transport market.

The head of the Hungarian delegation underlined: he regard continuous consultation with the sector’s participants as very important, including at a community level. In addition to trade organisations and advocacy groups, producers and consumers must also be given the opportunity to form an opinion. The planned regulatory changes will affect everyone and could increase the cost of freight transport by road by up to 20-30 percent, which will most certainly be reflected in the prices of good on supermarket shelves. Increasing inflation and the breaking of supply chains could also lead to a reduction in GDP if the interests of everyone involved are not taken into account. On Hungary’s initiative, the heads of 13 member state delegations met prior to the session of the Council to discuss the putting forward of a joint standpoint, in addition to which the Minister of State for Transport Policy also met with his British and Spanish counterparts to discuss the issue.

In its Conclusions, the Council recognised the progress achieved with relation to implementing the Trans-European Transport (TEN-T) Network and the transport elements of the Connecting Europe Facility (DEF). “The CEF is a successful instrument for the realisation of common transport policy goals”, the Minister of State said. “Hungary has made full use of its national cohesion envelope and regards rapid tender assessment and decision-making as the construction’s advantages that should be preserved. The main form of CEF financial funding must remain non-returnable within the upcoming multiannual financial framework”, Mr. Homolya highlighted.

During the political debate on the future of road toll systems, the Minister of State stated: Hungary already introduced a distance-based toll system for freight vehicles exceeding 3.5 tons in 2013. It is the country’s determined standpoint that the expansion of the system to include other vehicle categories cannot be made compulsory at EU level and that decisions on this issue must remain within a national sphere of competence. Basing the tolls payable by buses, coaches and cars on distance would heavily increase the costs for private individuals who regularly use toll roads.

The member states involved signed the agreement founding the supervisory body for the Amber rail freight transport corridor. The new corridor’s highest level body will be headed by Hungary in future. The rail corridor begins in the north in Warsaw and on the Polish-Belarus border and extends south all the way south to the port of Koper and the Hungarian-Serbian border. It links important Hungarian industrial centres and intermodal terminals with the Adriatic and the Balkan States. Its Hungarian stretches include the Chinese-financed Budapest-Kelebia railway. The corridor could play an outstanding role in helping the majority of goods arriving from the Far East to the ports of Koper and Athens and destined for Europe to reach Poland by rail.

Germany has joined the Orient-East Med rail freight transport corridor, thus enabling its ports in the north and on the Baltic Sea to become directly linked to Romanian ports on the Black Sea and to Turkish and Greek ports, including the Port of Piraeus.

(Ministry of National Development, Communications Department)