Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Questions (452)

James Browne


452. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the position regarding the need to amend the TEN-T core network regulated requirements; if the need for further investment in transport projects, namely Rosslare Europort, the Dublin to Rosslare Europort railway line and the national roadways, which lead to Rosslare Europort, will be prioritised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38556/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The TEN-T core network is a subset of the comprehensive network and represents the strategically most important nodes and links of the trans-European transport networks.

On the Island of Ireland, the TEN-T core network links the main urban centres of Belfast-Dublin and Cork and encompasses the road, rail and other transport modes on this route. There is also an offshoot to the core Port of Shannon Foynes. The Dublin-Rosslare Europort rail line, and roadways, link to Rosslare Harbour, a harbour which is on the TEN-T comprehensive Network but which does not meet the threshold for TEN-T core port status.

Rosslare Europort is unique among the State-owned ports, as it is not a commercial company operating under the Harbours Acts, but is instead operated on a commercial basis as a division of Iarnród Éireann. While State investment in relation to the port is not permitted under EU Regulations on State Aid, Project 2040 sets out the Government's plans in relation to roads projects such as the recently opened Gorey to Enniscorthy stretch of the M11 and the planned Oilgate to Rosslare stretch of the N11/N25.

In relation to the Port, I am satisfied that Rosslare Europort as a division of Iarnród Éireann is effectively managing operations at the port and looking at the potential of the Port to develop further and take advantage of any new opportunities. The port is targeting growth and new business opportunities, and received the approval of the Iarnród Éireann Board for a strategic plan to grow the port’s business. This includes investment plans for up to €25 million in customer facilities and port infrastructure, port assets, and new technology. The Port is engaging with a number of potential new shipping customers to supplement existing operators and offer greater choice to freight and passenger business.

As regards the potential for EU funding for the development of Rosslare Europort going forward, the Deputy will be aware that Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) co-funding is available to projects on both the comprehensive and the core parts of the TEN-T Network, subject to such projects satisfying the eligibility criteria of a given call for proposals, and being selected in the evaluation process.

While the current CEF programme finishes at end 2020, a proposal for a new CEF Regulation for the period 2021 –2027 was published by the European Commission in May 2018. Ireland has advocated at EU level for projects on our comprehensive network to continue to be eligible for co-funding during the period 2021 - 2027.

Ireland submitted written comments to the European Commission in conjunction with two other island Member States, Cyprus and Malta, calling for projects on the comprehensive network in Member States which have no land border with another Member State to be included as eligible actions. This position was accepted by the Commission during negotiations, and as a result the latest text of the proposal retains this amendment. Subject to the proposed Regulation being adopted, this means that during the period 2021 – 2027, projects on Ireland’s comprehensive TEN-T network, including the rail and road network, will be eligible to apply for CEF co-funding through relevant calls for proposals.

With regard to the amending the TEN-T network, the EU Transport Commissioner, Violeta Bulc, wrote to EU Transport Ministers in February 2019, announcing that the European Commission is advancing the review of the TEN-T Network, which was due to take place no later than December 2023. This review process will include: an evaluation study, due to be completed in spring 2020; a public stakeholder consultation, which was open for contributions from April to July 2019; and targeted consultations with Member States and a wide range of stakeholders later this year. Following the conclusion of the Commission’s review, a legislative proposal to amend the TEN-T Regulation may follow.

The Deputy may also wish to note that, in August 2019, honouring a Programme for a Partnership Government commitment, I made a submission to Commissioner Bulc on the matter of reviewing the TEN-T network. A copy of that submission is available on my Department’s website at the following link: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/3c921e-submission-to-commissioner-bulc-for-a-revision-of-the-core-ten-t-net/