Academic journal article European Research Studies

Helsinki Corridors: Ways of European Expansion and Development

Academic journal article European Research Studies

Helsinki Corridors: Ways of European Expansion and Development

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

A new geopolitical situation--and a new situation for the transport sector--was created when the European Union enlarged with 10 countries of central and eastern Europe and the Mediterranean in May 2004. This historic enlargement eastwards and southwards was continued as Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU in January 2007. The newly enlarged EU-27 not only has more Member States, but also a new set of external frontiers and a new set of neighbours on its borders. Some of the surrounding countries--Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Turkey--have been formally named candidates for EU membership. The other countries from the western Balkans--Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Serbia/Kosovo are seen as potential candidates.

Meanwhile, the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) was developed with the objective of avoiding the emergence of new dividing lines between the EU and its neighbours: its aim is to promote peace, stability, security, growth, development and prosperity in the neighbouring countries as well as modernisation of the economy and society (Thalassinos and Pociovalisteanu, 2007; 2009). Twelve bilateral ENP action plans have thus far been agreed with Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, Israel, Lebanon and Egypt. The action plans support the implementation of national plans and reform programmes in the political, economic, social and institutional fields.

The EU and Russia have decided to strengthen ties in a different framework by building cooperation in four so-called 'common spaces': a common economic space; a common space of freedom, security and justice; a space of cooperation in the field of external security; and a space of research and education, including cultural aspects. Transport is a key element in the EU's cooperation with neighbouring countries and its efforts to promote the conditions for sustainable economic growth, trade and cultural exchange. Transport is also one of the areas where the EU works to facilitate the spread of its own internal market principles and rules abroad. Under enlargement policy, candidate countries have to align themselves with EU legislation on transport in the interests of a well-functioning internal market, while ENP aims to ensure that legislation, standards and technical specifications of main trade partners are compatible with those of the EU. In the transport sector the action plans concentrate on measures designed to improve the safety, security and efficiency of transport operations as well as the development of an efficient transport network.

Closer cooperation in transport fosters economic development and trade. This in turn can contribute to wider aims: transport can have an important enabling role in strengthening regional cooperation and integration across borders.

2. Helsinki Corridors

2.1 Brief history

Several Conferences on Pan-European Transportation were organized at beginnings of 1990's as a consequence of the openness of Eastern block. Their objective was the identification of the needs for transportation infrastructure development within Eastern Europe. The concept of Pan-European transport policy and corridors was born during the preparatory work for the First Pan-European Transport Conference organized by the European Union (Commission, Parliament) and the European Conference of the Ministries of Transport (ECMT) in 1991 in Prague. The purpose was to speed up the development of transport routes throughout Europe and to further contribute to smoother economic exchanges. With the enlargement process becoming a priority in Europe, the corridor concept started gaining ground. The Corridors were defined in their actual form by the 3rd Pan-European Transport Conference in Helsinki, 1997.

Nine Pan-European transport corridors were defined at the second Pan-European transport Conference in Crete, March 1994, as routes in Central and Eastern Europe that required major investment over the next ten to fifteen years. …

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