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EC Calls For More Proposals For Marco Polo Programme

by Ulrika Lomas, for, Brussels

02 August 2006

The European Commission on Monday published its fourth call for proposals for the highly successful Marco Polo programme.

Commercial undertakings across the European Union and fully participating third countries have been invited to submit proposals for the creation of new freight transport services that fight congestion on European roads and improve the environmental performance of the freight transport system, two main objectives of EU transport policy.

The general aim of the programme is to help companies initiate new services for shifting freight off the road and on to short-sea shipping, rail and inland waterways during the high risk start-up phase.

The top-ranked projects in the competitive evaluation process will be offered grant contracts of up to four years. However, only projects capable of demonstrating sustainable non-road freight transport services - i.e projects that can survive on the market even after they cease receiving EU financial support - have a chance of receiving a grant.

The call is open to applications for three types of actions foreseen by the programme:

  • Modal shift actions which will shift freight from the road to short sea shipping, rail, inland waterways or a combination of modes of transport;
  • Common learning actions which will improve cooperation and optimise working methods and procedures between actors in the freight transport chain; and
  • Highly innovative catalyst actions which are aimed at overcoming structural barriers in the freight transport market in the European Union such as low speed freight trains or technical interoperability problems of transport modes.

In order to address increasing congestion problems and demand from the markets, the budget for the 2006 call has been increased to EUR35 million, compared to EUR30.1 in 2005.

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