Development of the trans-European transport network

Mr President, Madam Vice-President, ladies and gentlemen, on 1 May, a whole array of new states will be joining the European Union, but that day will not, of course, accomplish integration or the real unification of Europe; for that, many measures will be needed, in particular where infrastructure is concerned, and in the extension of the railways. I recall how, in this Chamber, Mr Jarzembowski, we crossed swords on the subject of the Transit Regulation and how some of you – including you, my dear Mr Jarzembowski – said: `so let us invest more in railways!´ Well, we now have the chance to support not only Austria but also the countries bordering on it if, tomorrow, we vote in favour of these rail projects linking East with West, North with South, becoming reality.I am referring here, on the one hand, to the project that has already been mentioned – from Prague to Graz via Linz and then further southwards – and also, on the other, to the southbound line through Vienna. These will help not only our neighbours, the Czech Republic and Slovenia in particular; if we think ahead a bit, we will be including the whole of the Balkans, and if we want to free up the roads for those who have to use them or for whom it makes more sense to use them, whether with private vehicles or HGVs, then I believe this extension of the railways is what we need.Madam Vice-President, I am very glad that a representative of the Commission, addressing the Committee during its deliberations, took a very positive view of what is known as the Summerau project, that is to say, the line running from Prague to the south via Linz. I hope that the Commission will support these projects, for what matters is that we provide this Europe of ours with an infrastructure that is environmentally friendly, that is efficient and that really does link the countries in Central Europe with one another.I would not wish to deny that profits may well accrue from this to Austria, which suffers a great deal from heavy goods vehicle traffic, but I do hope that we will receive support from all sides of this House; this is not about self-centred interests, but about those of Europe as a whole, and when it comes to pursuing and maintaining those, we should as far as possible be in agreement.