Category: Delft Regional Conference 2022

  • TRAN


    All aboard!: With fuel prices on the rise, trains have become a more viable and sustainable mode of travel. However, due to longer travel times, high ticket prices and a lack of last-mile infrastructure, many Europeans still favour the plane or car over the train. What steps can the EU take to improve and facilitate European-wide railway transportation?

    Submitted by: Naut Bordewijk (NL), Sem de Bruijn (NL), Féline Mac Donald (NL), Natascha Martinez (NL), Tess Tang (NL), Tommie Steenwinkel (Chairperson, NL)

    The European Youth Parliament,

    1. Noting with deep concern that people travelling through Europe tend to choose more polluting transportation options such as travelling by plane or car due to a lack of certain customer inconveniences like inadequate luggage space, facilities,  hygiene, and train capacity;
    2. Alarmed by the fact that European train travel is not always accessible for citizens with physical disabilities,
    3. Aware that the existence of national monopolies on rail travel lead to:
      1. deficiencies in technical and functional improvements,
      2. high ticket prices;
    4. Noting with deep concern that a lack of interoperability hinders the aim of a single European railway area because of:
      1. international train operators needing additional certificates for every Member State they operate in,
      2. Member States mostly focus on their own railway infrastructure instead of cross-border railway infrastructure,
      3. technical differences in infrastructure between every Member State;
    5. Taking into consideration that travelling by train is still relatively slow compared to other transportation options as a result of:
      1. long transfer times,
      2. certain destinations in Europe not being easily accessible or not being accessible at all when travelling by train;
    1. Calls upon the European Commision to create an advisory organ consisting of industry experts and lawmakers advising on:
      1. the drafting of guidelines for and checks on European train companies regarding luggage space, facilities, hygiene, and passenger capacity,
      2. the most efficient timetables for international trains travelling through Europe,
      3. the maintenance and upgrading of railway networks,
      4. create a singular international certificate for conductors operating cross-border trains;
    2. Calls upon Member States to invest in high-speed underground railway networks that focuses on improving last-mile infrastructure;
    3. Calls upon Member States to increase funding for the single European railway area financed through the reallocation of a yet-to-introduce distance-based tax on flights happening within the EU;
    4. Calls upon the European Regional Development Fund to increase funding for research projects on more accessible high-speed trains;
    5. Calls upon the European Commission to increase funding for the accessibility of railway stations in order to:
      1. fit every train platform with at least one customer lift,
      2. equip every train station with luggage drop-off systems;
    6. Calls upon the European Commission to facilitate the creation of a European railway deal between all European train and railway infrastructure companies that aims to:
      1. encourage all prospective railway infrastructure to use the same railway width, and electrical voltage, and implement the railway operating system ERTMS,
      2. encourage companies to reform their existing railway infrastructure to common standards,
      3. encourage railway infrastructure companies to collectively invest in new international railway infrastructure projects.
  • PECH


    Under the sea: Marine biodiversity and habitat loss is an ongoing challenge for Europe’s seas. EU actions have not restored its waters to good environmental status nor fishing to sustainable levels in all seas. What more can the EU do to protect marine life in EU waters?

    Submitted by: Isthea Amoilafoa (NL), Jean-Paul Steinbusch (NL), Jet van der Wilden (NL), Larissa Peters (NL), Peter Schalke (NL), Alice Comoglio (Chairperson, IT)

    The European Youth Parliament,

    1. Taking into account that there are now around 5.25 trillion macro- and microplastics in the ocean which are having a detrimental effect on EU marine populations,
    2. Noting with concern that there are still 3,000 bilge water dumpings a year occurring in Europe’s waters,
    3. Conscious of the destruction of European coral reefs due to various pollutants entering the water,
    4. Acknowledging the existence of aquaculture such as fishing farms, due to the excessive demand for seafood,
    5. Pointing out the existence of projects and laws like Natura 2030, the EU 2030 Biodiversity Strategy, and the Nature Restoration Law that strive for the conservation and restoration of marine habitats,
    6. Profoundly concerned that there are fishing practices such as bottom trawling that result in a substantial amount of bycatch and the destruction of large swaths of marine habitats;
    7. Appreciating the creation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs);
    1. Instructs all Member States to limit the use and dumping of plastic products by:
      1. introducing returnable deposits on recyclable plastic items which can be collected at supermarkets or other collection centres,
      2. increasing fines for illegally dumping plastic,
      3. including the clean-up of plastic waste dumped in cities and nature in court-ordered community service;
    2. Calls upon the European Commission to subsidise companies which:
    3. have found technological solutions to clean up the oceans from macro- and microplastics, such as The Ocean Cleanup,
      1. study new plastic materials and their recyclability,
      2. research clean-up methods for oil spills;
    4. Requests Member States to take action against companies which make use of the environmentally harmful practice of bilge-dumping by:
      1. collecting evidence in cooperation with companies such as Skytruth,
      2. prosecuting companies guilty of bilge dumping;
    5. Demands all Member States to follow the guidelines of agreements such as Natura 2030, EU 2030 Biodiversity Strategy, Nature Restoration Law, and the 14th Sustainable Development Goal;
    6. Encourages the European Commission to prohibit the use of environmentally harmful fishing techniques such as bottom trawling by 2030;
    7. Invites the European Commission to transition to the acquisition of seafood in fishing farms, cellular-pisciculture, and plant-based seafood;
    8. Urges all Member States to improve the state of marine life in EU waters by creating more MPAs in threatened areas to let marine organisms recover by having an expert team define the areas in need of being protected;
    9. Further urges Member States to limit or ban recreational activity in all MPAs;
    10. Asks the Member States to help people who are directly disadvantaged by the newly created MPAs through:
      1. providing financial assistance,
      2. offering retraining courses.
  • LIBE I


    Journalism under pressure: In recent years, freedom of the press has come under pressure in the EU. With journalists facing threats or even coming under attack, what can the EU do to ensure journalists can work safely and freely?

    Submitted by: Dan Nguyen (NL), Famke van den Dungen (NL), Rahim Hammani (NL), Wies de Ridder (NL), Sofia Giani (Chairperson, IT)

    The European Youth Parliament,

    1. Alarmed by the large number of Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs)1,
    2. Aware of the rise in government censorship in some Member States,
    3. Deeply concerned by the growing number of homicides of journalists in the EU,
    4. Disturbed by the increasing harassment and violence journalists in the EU are facing,
    5. Fully believing in freedom of the press as a pillar of liberal democracy in the EU;
    1. Calls upon the European Commission to create an intergovernmental task-force of lawyers aimed at providing legal advice to legal persons2 being sued with SLAPPs; 
    2. Encourages the European Commission to further support the work of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) like the European Federation of Journalists to ensure the safety and health of journalists, increase the trust in and quality of journalism, and counter political interference in the media;
    3. Urges the European Commission to direct funds to NGOs that safeguard journalists such as Reporters Without Borders; 
    4. Requests the Council of Europe to further develop and expand their Europe Platform to Promote the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists with additional guidelines for journalists reporting from ‘dangerous’ environments;
    5. Recommends the Directorate-General for Communication (DG COMM) to spread awareness about the principles stated in the International Federation of Journalists’ Global Charter of Ethics for Journalists through media campaigns;
    6. Reminds Member States to align their actions to Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights;
    7. Invites Member States to further fund NGOs that support or help independent media outlets and journalists.
  • AGRI


    While current intensive agriculture and farming techniques cause damage to the
    environment, they also provide a livelihood to millions of farmers across Europe. What can the EU do to ensure a green transition and the safeguarding of nature while taking into account the livelihood of agricultural producers?

    Submitted by: Yonis Ali (NL), Anouschka Graaf (NL), Noor Laros (NL), Madelief Oosterveld (NL), Nicolas Vardon (Chairperson, SE)

    The European Youth Parliament,

    1. Conscious that the agricultural industry is one of the largest emitters of nitrogen and methane which are harmful greenhouse gases,
    2. Aware that the agricultural industry represents a significant share of the European economy, consisting of 44 million jobs and 10.5 million farms,
    3. Noting with regret that the maximisation of crop yields1 clashes with the environmental goals set in the European Common Agricultural Policy,
    4. Alarmed by the perpetual decrease in the quality of topsoil, biodiversity, and crops due to intensive farming practises2
    5. Seriously concerned by the mismanagement of subsidies towards intensive farming while environmentally friendly and lower income farms are severely underfunded;
    1. Encourages Member States to provide farmers with further education on topsoil-friendly and environmentally-sustainable farming practices;
    2. Urges the Member States to subsidise environmentally-friendly products financed through the reallocation of taxes on environmentally harmful products;
    3. Invites Member States to create financially attractive programmes aimed at incentivising farmers to transition to more sustainable production methods;
    4. Further encourages the European Commission to open a dialogue with representatives of farmers assisted by third-party mediators to provide increased job security;
    5. Calls upon the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) to create a European wide index disclosing whether agricultural products follow environmentally friendly and healthy production standards;
    6. Requests the European Commission to foster transparency on the allocation of agricultural funds through:
      1. the enhancement of the financial transparency system by making it more accessible to the general public,
      2. ensuring farmers utilise their funds appropriately.
  • SEDE

    Committee on Security and Defence

    A European Army: With NATO and the transatlantic partnership having been unstable, calls for more European strategic sovereignty in foreign policy and military matters have arisen. Seeing how Member States like Germany and Poland have already upscaled their military expenditures, how should the EU follow in potentially mutualising its defence ambitions?

    Submitted by: Bobby Blaauw (NL), Tim Hazebroek (NL), Tayma El Yalte (NL), Misha Zwietink (NL), Nikola Pantelić (Chairperson, RS)

    The European Youth Parliament,

    1. Noting the lack of military unity in the EU,
    2. Aware of the high degree of dependence of some EU Member States on non-EU countries or defence alliances, such as NATO,
    3. Conscious of the rising threat of China and Russia,
    4. Taking into account the growing concern amongst EU citizens regarding safety and security,
    5. Keeping in mind that many EU Member States lag behind in military spending when compared to the great powers1,
    6. Draws attention to the vast amount of resources misspent by Member States on a yearly basis on duplicate or incompatible military equipment,
    7. Regrets the lack of a permanent military command structure2 for the EU,
    8. Concerned by the fact that some Member States may resist efforts to unify European militaries due to differing national interests;
    1. Proposes the creation of a unified European military consisting of all 27 EU Member States;
    2. Recommends all EU Member States to implement the agreement made by NATO defence ministers in 2006 regarding an increase of European countries’ military spending to a minimum of 2% of their annual GDP;
    3. Urges the European Commission to decrease duplicate military spending by initiating a common budgeting policy for all EU Member States;
    4. Calls upon the Member States to create a unified governing body in charge of managing the European military proposed in OC 1 which includes all Member States’ interests in its decision making process.
  • ECON

    Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs

    Money, money, money: With the ECB recently increasing interest rates to counter inflation, many Europeans are seeing their savings dwindle while the threat of stagflation looms large over the Eurozone. What steps can the EU take to ensure economic growth and combat inflation while protecting European consumers?

    Submitted by: Ebe Lubecht (NL), Kik Maassen (NL), Madelief van Poelvoorde (NL), Mirte van der Worp (NL), Laura Simón (Chairperson, ES) 

    The European Youth Parliament,

    1. Noting how inflation causes  financial hardship for citizens of the EU, 
    2. Taking into account that current market tendencies are leading to a wage-price spiral1,
    3. Concerned about the decreasing availability of loans for consumers in the EU caused by potentially rising interest rates,
    4. Aware that the European Central Bank (ECB) has been consistently raising interest rates2,
    5. Fully alarmed by the rise of Member States’ national debts,
    6. Recognising the burden that low employment rates inflict on Member States’ economies; 
    1. Calls  upon the European Commission to introduce  a fund for the European Food Banks Federation; 
    2. Urges the Member States to set a price cap for necessity goods;
    3. Further urges Member States to compensate industries’ rising cost of production;
    4. Suggests Member States to introduce a luxury goods tax to finance the costs emerging from OC 2 and OC 3;
    5. Authorises the European Commission to demand  businesses to justify the rise of product prices based on the respective increase in production costs;
    6. Ask the Member States to increase understanding of household finances and economics through:  
      • their national secondary education curricula,
      • additional courses for adults;
    7. Encourages Member States to increase corporate income tax for large corporations;
    8. Seeks the European Commission to start a second temporary support to mitigate unemployment risks in an emergency focussed on countering inflation-inflicted hardship.


    Rule by the people: With the European Parliament recently declaring that Hungary is no longer a full democracy, as well as the pressure the judiciary is facing in Poland, what can the EU do to uphold the democratic functioning of its Member States?

    Submitted by:  Pjotr van Aalst (NL), Lina Assalhi (NL), Ciana Kokos (NL), Marc Weenk (NL), Marieke de Weerd (Chairperson, NL)

    The European Youth Parliament,

    1. Emphasising the decline of adherence to the EU’s core values within certain Member States, opening up the possibility of a deterioration of fundamental rights in the future,
    2. Noting with concern the current shortcomings of Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) due to the necessity of a unanimous vote by all Member States,
    3. Deeply disturbed by the violation of human rights in Hungary through:
      1. governmental rule by decree1 powers, which disempower democratic institutions, endanger the rule of law2, and place fundamental rights at risk,
      2. the rise of hate speech against certain minority populations, such as migrants and foreigners;
    4.  Alarmed by the violation of human rights in Poland through, the undermining of the independence of the judiciary, the restriction of the freedom of expression, and the unlawful or arbitrary killings by police forces;
    1. Calls upon the European Commission to initiate a change to the voting system of article 7.2 TEU termed “serious and persistent breach of EU values” from a unanimous vote to a four-fifths majority;
    2. Calls upon the European Commission to initiate the legislation of a “yellow-card-red-card-system” which means that:
      • Member States will receive a yellow card for a maximum of ten years if they undermine a core value resulting in:
        1. the loss of access to financial aid until they have restored their adherence to the core values,
        2. the implementation of economic sanctions amounting to one percent of the Member State’s GDP, being issued three months after the distribution of the yellow card;
      • Member States will receive a red card if they have violated multiple not-coinciding core values leading them to be expelled from the EU for twenty years; 
    1. Encourages the European Commission to guide sanctioned Member States in rebuilding EU core values in order to halt the process of democratic backsliding;  
    2. Appeals to NGOs such as Freedom House and the Hungarian Helsinki Committee to assist the EU’s effort to enforce the adherence to core values in the Member States at risk of breaching them. 
  • DEVE


    Rebuilding Ukraine: Current estimates predict the rebuilding of Ukraine will cost upwards of 350 billion Euros as of September 2022. Meanwhile, EU officials have spoken out for Ukrainian admission into the EU. In what way should the EU support the rebuilding process and shape future relations with Ukraine after the war?

    Submitted by: Isabelle van Hillegersberg (NL), Leah Israel (NL), David Pham (NL), Felix Crawford (Chairperson, NL)

    The European Youth Parliament,

    1. Aware of the necessity to rebuild Ukraine through consistent financial support, both during and after the war,
    2. Gravely concerned about the Ukrainian peoples’ wellbeing, specifically regarding mental health issues and risks,
    3. Further concerned about the displacement of the population, and consequent distress or family separation,
    4. Realising that corruption in Ukraine limits the effectiveness of:
      1. financial support programs,
      2. proper, just and effective governance,
      3. general short and long term recovery;
    5. Regretting the challenges Ukrainian civilians face when trying to leave warzones,
    6. Acknowledging the insufficient housing and care for Ukrainian refugees in the EU,
    7. Conscious of the traumatic consequences of the Russo-Ukrainian war, leaving (mental) healthcare facilities understaffed and underequipped,
    8. Recognising the many different and sometimes conflicting beliefs Ukrainian communities hold, 
    9. Stressing the need for a long-term solution for the destruction caused by the Russo- Ukrainian war;
    1. Demands that Member States ban the spreading of any disinformation about the Russo-Ukrainian war on their state-sponsored media outlets;
    2. Suggests all Member States to further inform their citizens through relevant media outlets about the need for shelter and housing for Ukrainians, the real-time situation in Ukraine, the necessity to create a welcoming space for refugees of war, opportunities to financially support Ukraine and its people;
    3. Invites the Council of Europe to establish a Ukraine Recovery Concept (URC), consisting of both short-term and long-term solutions such as:
      1. easing entry restrictions into the EU for Ukrainians fleeing the war,
      2. more accessible and safer housing in the EU for refugees of war,
      3. governmental support for Mental Health Europe to assist in reducing the risks and effects of mental health problems for Ukrainians,
      4. clear and simple national legislation regarding citizenship and residence permits for Ukrainian refugees,
      5. the provision of long-term schooling opportunities for Ukrainian children;
    4. Calls for the establishment of a council to provide a centralised way of giving structural and monetary support to Ukraine, consisting of representatives from the NATO, the European Bank for Development and Reconstruction, the European External Action Service (EEAS), the Security Council of the United Nations, the G-7, and the European Commission;
    5. Hopes that the Ukrainian government will further work on:
      1. promoting democracy,
      2. the deradicalisation of pro-Russian separatists and other extremists,
      3. the fight against corruption through further investments in their National Anti-Corruption Bureau,
      4. legislation that prevents democratic backsliding or corruption,
      5. meeting the other requirements necessary to join the EU;
    6. Underlines the importance of the reconstruction of Ukraine, specifically focussing on the infrastructure and transportation in Ukraine;
    7. Expresses its hope that Member States will work together with, and utilise the support of the Council established in OC 4;
    8. Encourages all European countries to discuss the possibility for more humanitarian corridors, utilising the Red Cross, EEAS and RescEU.
  • Words of Welcome from the President of Delft 2022

    Dear Participant,

    As President of the Delft Regional Conference, it is my honour to welcome you to this event.

    For many months, both my team and the other teams have been working diligently to make this session possible. Dedicating much of their free time to the success of this session, my team has been hard at work researching, writing the Topic Overviews and becoming experts in their respective subjects. Subjects ranging from inflation and ecology to defence and foreign policy. All of them are highly relevant issues which Europe is facing now, and which we will have to deal with in the short term. Soon, by doing your own research and with the guidance of the Topic Overviews, you’ll have the opportunity to dive into those subjects and become experts yourself.

    Working under the theme of ‘New beginnings: turning crises into opportunities’, it has been my vision from the start to help create an environment wherein participants can meet new people, grow their mutual understanding and are handed the tools for change. You’ll have the opportunity to develop yourself, gain ownership and grow academically. Your views will be challenged, and you’ll be challenging the views of others. However, rather than letting that divide us, through debating in good faith and opening yourself up to other points of view, it will bring us closer together. Over the course of this conference, I am looking forward to seeing what progress you make, what new skills you learn and what valuable experiences you’ll be taking home.

    For now, I wish you the best of luck in preparing yourself for the session, and I am very much looking forward to meeting you all very soon.

    Yours Faithfully,

    Tim van Woezik

  • TRAN


    Committee on Transport and Tourism
    Written by: Tommie Steenwinkel

    Relevance of the Topic

    For decades, European Member States have prioritised investments and improvements in road and air travel over railway travel. Consequently, the benefits that a good national and international railway system can have are not used optimally, even though it’s clear that railway travel is the most sustainable and eco-friendly transportation option when it comes to transporting European citizens and goods. A more functional and boundary-defying railway system can not only help in the fight against climate change by contributing to the European green deal. Moreover, with prices of fuels such as electricity, gas and kerosene rising, railway travel has also become relatively cheap and thus a more viable option compared to road and air travel.

    Although in recent years the European Union has adopted four major railway packages and recently declared 2021 the European Year of Rail, switching from road to rail is still an ambitious concept rather than a reality. Member States have thus failed to fully implement changes such as introducing competition in the railway market by allowing access to private companies. Another core problem lies in the cooperation between Member States, instead of designing a unified European-wide railway system the construction and designing of railway infrastructure is mostly handled on a national scale. How can we get all European Member States on the same track to ensure a sustainable, affordable and accessible railway system for all European citizens?

    Key terms and definitions

    • The European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS): is the system of standards for management and interoperation of signalling for railways by the European Union. The European Union aims to implement ERTMS across all European railway tracks to increase the interoperability of trains in the EU.
    • The Trans European Transport Network(TEN-T): is a planned network of roads, railways, airports and water infrastructure in the European Union. The TEN-T programme consists of a variety of infrastructure projects that ultimately aim to close gaps, remove bottlenecks and technical barriers, as well as to strengthen social, economic and territorial cohesion in the EU. TEN-T includes the ambition to create a Single European Railway Area (SERA).
    • Last-mile infrastructure: in the context of public transport, last-mile infrastructure describes the last leg of a passenger’s journey between the station and the passenger’s destination. If the distance between the station and the destination is too great, passenger’s may opt to travel by car rather than public transport.
    • Interoperability: is the ability of rolling stock to operate on any stretch of rail in the EU, no matter where they are. Currently, this ability is being hampered by lack of common infrastructure. Many Member States have their own standards, systems and equipment. Some Member States even have a different rail gauge, meaning the rails are either too wide or narrow for many trains to ride over.

    Key Actors

    EU Member States: are crucial actors when it comes to creating a future-proof European railway system. They are the ones responsible for building railway infrastructure and making sure the four railway packages adopted by the European Union are being executed. Some Member States do a better job at this than others.

    The large train companies of Europe: like Deutsche Bahn and SNCF have extremely large concessions which some experts consider a nearly complete if not a full monopoly within their respective countries. While the fourth railway package adopted in 2016 tried to encourage these companies to have more competition with other commercial companies, there is almost never an even playing field. With the European railway packages in place, they should only be responsible for the operational part of rail traffic, not the infrastructure. In practice, many large national train companies are still fully or partially responsible for the infrastructure of rail traffic as well. 

    The European Commissioner for Transport: is the member of the European Commission that is responsible for the planning and development of homogeneous transport policies and regulations across the Union, for the Trans-European Transport Network as well as for interoperation.

    The European Rail Freight Association: is a non-governmental organisation that aims to achieve the best conditions for a competitive railway sector. Their mission is to promote rail transport as a first and viable choice for companies that want to transport European goods and to ensure full market opening of rail across all of Europe. 

    The European Union Agency for Railways: is an EU agency with the mission of moving Europe towards a sustainable and safe railway system without limitations. Their tasks include things like improving railway safety, acting as the system authority for the ERTMS and improving accessibility and use of railway system information.

    Key Conflicts

    Technical and operational challenges

    Currently, a Eurostar train travelling from London via France and Belgium to Amsterdam needs nine different train control systems. Even though the ERTMS tries to remove all these different operating systems into a standardised one, there are still many other technical and operational challenges. Some examples of this are railway control and command systems being specific to certain Member States, certain trains being only able to operate on their respective railway systems and train operators needing different certificates and diplomas to operate cross-border trains for every Member State they pass through.

    Separation of wheel and track

    Even though increasing competition in the railway sector has been on the European agenda since the 1990s, there is almost little to no competition between train companies in all of the European Member States. One of the main reasons for this is that many big train companies hold a large share of the railway infrastructure as well. Because of this, many railway tracks are only used by the train companies that own them rather than all train companies being able to use these railways. It is however important to note that changes made in the privatisation of the sector need to be well looked at because it has its downsides as seen in the United Kingdom for instance.

    A lack of cooperation between Member States

    Right now, the European railway system is a patchwork rather than a network. Changing that requires more cooperation between Member States. Some of the core problems are train services and websites only providing information and timetables on a national level and Member States being reluctant to invest in cross-border rail infrastructure because it won’t be commercially viable in the short term. Because of this, the goal of a Single European Railway Area with an international train ticketing website and functional international railway infrastructure is a concept rather than a reality right now.

    Customer inconveniences

    If we want to make travelling by train a viable and commonly used option, we need to make the customer journey as convenient as possible. A reason for customers to still choose travelling by plane over train is the price of a ticket. While plane tickets are exempt from value-added taxes (VAT), passengers that buy a train ticket often do have to pay the tax. Furthermore, many train tickets are still very expensive for the average customer because of the monopoly positions certain train companies hold. Although the EU would like Member States to open their railway market to competition, it has faced a lot of push back from many Member States, including the powerblock of France and Germany. Another cause for customers choosing the car over the train could be that there is a lack of good last-mile infrastructure to get customers to their designated places. Although some Member States have been experimenting with a bicycle service to make more destinations accessible, such as the Dutch OV-fiets, a lot of the time, even if there is last-mile infrastructure in place, many of these lesser-used train lines run at a very slow speed.

    Measures in place

    Europe has one of the most mature railway systems in the world when compared to other continents. Amongst other things, EU legislation has had a large impact on the development of the European rail network in recent years. However, despite initiating many projects and passing a lot of legislation, many projects were not completed fully or at all, and a lot of legislation is still not implemented. Thus, there is a lot of room for improvement.

    • The European railway packages, adopted between 2001 and 2016 with the aim of creating a Single European Railway Area, are a set of legislative packages with the aim of gradually opening up rail transport service markets for competition, making national railway systems interoperable and defining appropriate framework conditions for the development of a single European railway area. Some of the ways the railway packages try to achieve these goals are by implementing ERTMS across all European railway systems, creating a ‘one-stop shop’ for all European train services and trying to separate the train infrastructure companies from the train operating companies.
    • The fourth railway package, adopted in 2016, consisted of a ‘market pilar’ and a ‘technical pillar’ which aimed to complete the process of gradual market opening that started with the 1st railway package and boost the competitiveness of the railway sector by significantly reducing costs and administrative burden for railway undertakings wishing to operate across Europe.
    • 2021 was declared the European Year of Rail in order to demonstrate how trains can help the EU become climate-neutral by 2050. During this year, many new European railway projects were introduced to work towards a single European railway area like Rail Baltica that will connect Finland to Poland.
    • The Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) policy addresses the implementation and development of a Europe-wide network of railway lines, roads, inland waterways, maritime shipping routes, ports, airports and railroad terminals. The objective is improved use of infrastructure, reduced environmental impact of transport, enhanced energy efficiency and increased safety. It aims to double high-speed rail networks by 2030 and even triple them in 2050.

    Food for thought

    Even though the importance of European-wide railway transportation is addressed by many different actors, actual improvements in the European railway system are incremental and incredibly slow. What can the EU do to increase competitiveness on a national and international level and thus increase improvements in the railway sector? How can the EU encourage Member States to invest more in their national and cross-border railway systems? Aside from these economic issues, there are also many technical challenges ahead. What can the EU do to increase interoperability across all Member States? Lastly, what more actions can we take to persuade the individual customer to choose the train over other more polluting transport options?