The Commission has set two deadlines in 2017 for the submission of proposals for transport projects in the EU. The first deadline is 14 July 2017 and the second is 30 November 2017. The funding will come from the Connecting Europe Facility-Transport and will bring together public and private funding and the Junker European Fund for Strategic Investments. The Commission considers that projects must be clean, connected and competitive and be along the Trans- European Transport Network. Details can be found on the European Commission Website under Mobility and Transport.

Setting Sail for 2017

EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc has made 2017 the European Maritime year and the Commission is preparing a European Maritime Strategy. On 8 December, the European Community Shipowners’ Association, ECSA, set out its vision for the strategy. ECSA pointed out the short sea shipping has been decreasing since 2006 and has made five proposals as to how this could be reversed. Key to the reversal is the completion of the single market for shipping. The main problem is that goods shipped between Union ports can lose EU status during transport. This gives a strong advantage to road transport. ECSA also calls for quicker adoption of international conventions and hopes that the EU can take a global transport leadership role. Finally, ECSA has five proposals on lifelong careers in the shipping industry. In all ECSA makes 16 + 1 concrete proposals.

CO2 and Shipping

The International Chamber of Shipping representing more than 80% of merchant shipping is concerned about a European Parliament vote to include maritime transport within the EU’s carbon emission control system, the emission trading system. The Chamber considers that a regional approach could distort competition and the better approach is to address the problem in the IMO which has a mandate to address the issue. The Parliament on the other hand considers that without a push from the EU nothing will be done and uses the airline sector as an example. The call by the ECSA to implement international agreements must be seen in this light.

China invests in high-speed train link between Hungary and Serbia

The European Commission is investigating whether EU procurement rules have been respected in relation to the planned high speed rail link between Belgrade and Budapest. The US$ 2.9 billion project to upgrade the 350 km rail link is being financed by China and is part of the one belt one road (OBOR) programme. The link is part of the Land Sea Express and is to link Hungary to the Chinese port of Pireaus. Concerns have already been expressed that the OBOR programme is based on the idea that only Chinese companies and technology can partake in these projects. The Commission is investigating the Hungarian part of the project which has been granted to the State-owned China Railway International Corporation and is financed by the Export-Import Bank of China, another State-owned entity.

EU Commission looks at Maersk and Hamburg Sud

The EU Commission is expected to give its initial views on the proposed take-over by Maersk of Hamburg Sud by the end of March 2017. The deal was submitted for approval in mid-February. Approval often comes down to the maintenance of competition on specific routes. Thus, it may be that Maersk would have to give up certain routes or pull out of certain shipping alliances.

Is China a Market Economy?

The Commission says no and thus has proposed new methodologies for calculating dumping duties on products originating in China. China says yes and argues that the current EU dumping rules are in breach of the WTO’s anti-dumping rules and that the new proposed methodology is also in breach of the same rules. The Commission proposal has now been submitted to the Parliament and the Council for adoption. Currently about 1.8% of trade into the EU from China is affected by measures to counter unfair trading practices. If the new rules are adopted this figure could decrease. If the new rules are tightened it could increase this figure. A final decision is expected for the Autumn of 2017.