As the leading source of banking-sector finance for trans-European transport infrastructure, the European Investment Bank (EIB) is contributing to the debate on new transport priorities by organising a conference on Trans-European Networks (TENs). The conference will be held in Strasbourg on 14 February 2001.

The European Commission and the EU Member States are studying new transport priorities with a view to updating the current framework approved by the Essen European Council in December 1994.

The conference on 14 February 2001 will examine the investment needed in the transport sector to eliminate existing bottlenecks in the EU, to contend with increasing demand and to improve links between the Central and Eastern European countries and the present internal market. In addition, the conference will consider how transport pricing should be adjusted to strengthen incentives for transporting freight by rail both on environmental protection grounds and in response to the sustained trend towards high energy costs. In this regard, completion of an efficient multimodal trans-European network is of key importance for economic integration of the EU and its neighbouring countries as well as for development of its less advantaged regions.

Speakers will include representatives from the European Commission, the European Parliament, the EIB, transport authorities within and outside the EU as well as transport-sector operators and industrialists. 

The conference will bring together some 200 participants from all EU Member States and from candidate countries, including representatives of transport-sector authorities, project promoters, major public works enterprises, academics working on transport policies, bankers specialising in transport projects, members of the European and national Parliaments, the press and NGOs.

Since 1993, following the recommendations of the high-level Group chaired by Commissioner Christophersen and the identification of priority networks by the Essen European Council in 1994, the Bank has stepped up its operations to establish trans-European networks (TENs) for transport, energy and telecommunications and to extend them to regions bordering on the EU, particularly the candidate countries. Hence, the EIB has since 1993 approved loans totalling EUR 65 billion for TENs projects costed at some EUR 206 billion in all.In this context, the Bank has strongly supported public-private partnerships (PPPs) covering the entire spectrum of European communications infrastructure projects. Experience accumulated by the EIB over the years continues to represent value added, particularly in the transport sector where the gap needs to be bridged between high investment requirements and relatively scarce public subsidies.Examples of major PPPs financed by the EIB include the Oresund fixed link, Athens airport, the London-Channel Tunnel high-speed rail link, the new tunnel under the Elbe in Hamburg, the E18 motorway in Norway and several motorway sections in the United Kingdom and Portugal.