Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Ceisteanna (74)

James Browne


74. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he has applied to the European Union to designate the Dublin to Rosslare railway line with Trans European Transport Network, TEN–T core status; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39688/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar 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.

The Core TEN-T network on the Island of Ireland 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 to Rosslare Europort railway line is on the Comprehensive TEN-T network. Rosslare Harbour is also on the TEN-T Comprehensive Network and doesn’t meet the threshold for TEN-T Core port status. The European Commission's methodology for establishing the core and comprehensive layers of the network are available online. I have not applied to the Commission to designate the Dublin to Rosslare railway line as part of the Core Network.

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 expected to take place later this year. Following the conclusion of the Commission’s review, a legislative proposal to amend the TEN-T Regulation may follow.

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 in which I outlined national policy developments since the TEN-T Regulation came into force in 2013. These developments include the Government's National Development Plan and National Planning Framework, jointly referred to as Project Ireland 2040, and the implications of Brexit on Ireland's international connectivity. In relation to Rosslare Europort, while State investment 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.

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 the end of 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 networks, will be eligible to apply for CEF co-funding through relevant calls for proposals.