Interview with Ambassador Gerhard Pfanzelter, Secretary General of the Central European Initiative
1. How did SEETAC contribute to the transnational
cooperation among the CEI member states and what did SEETAC mean
for the CEI Secretariat?
First of all, let me express the great satisfaction of the
Central European Initiative with the results of the South East
European Transport Axis Cooperation project. We were honoured to be
the Lead partner of this strategic project. I am very thankful to
our team at the CEI Secretariat for having done an admirable job.
They succeeded in running the project smoothly and efficiently in
full harmony with our partners. I am also grateful to all SEETAC
partners for their enthusiasm and commitment to produce tangible
and sustainable results. Special thanks to the Joint
Technical Secretariat of the South- East Europe programme for its
continuous support and constructive cooperation.
The CEI is a champion of regional cooperation for European
integration: the European perspective of its Member States remains
its core mission. The objectives of SEETAC are completely in line
with our mission: it has improved some of the key aspects in
transnational cooperation such as communication, institutional
cooperation and harmonization of national plans. By improving the
transport system in the region, SEETAC contributes to the
competitiveness and economic development in the Western Balkans,
preparing it for the European single market. The path ahead of us
is still long, but I believe this approach is very challenging and
SEETAC has also enhanced the CEI's visibility among the main EU
players. The constant contact and collaboration with the EC, in
particular with the DG Move and DG Regio is an important asset.
2. How do you think SEETAC has contributed to the
transport system of the Western Balkans?
SEETAC has done an excellent job at the right time, when
transport planning in the Western Balkans is being developed and
the EC is engaged in the process of the TEN-T revision. The
presence of both EU Member States and candidates/future candidates
as SEETAC partners offered an added value to this strategic
project. After a three-year cooperation period, partners have
already shifted their perspective to working in a team for a common
goal. The huge efforts each state is making towards the creation of
better transport infrastructures, conditions and services are part
of an intriguing puzzle in the South-east Europe transport
On 12 December 2011, the European Commission issued a proposal,
selecting a Core and Comprehensive network for all of Europe. Only
the Comprehensive network includes the road and railroad sections
of Western Balkan countries.
SEETAC through the joint cooperation between all its Balkan
members in SEETO and the South East Europe Transport Observatory
co-financed by the EU, is helping to define the requirements to
make the existing networks efficient and at the same time to
propose the inclusion of the South-East Europe into the Core
3. What is according to you the role of this project
with regard to the integration process of the IPA countries into
SEETAC has created numerous benefits with regard to the process
of integration of the IPA countries into the EU. The results
achieved so far in SEETAC will play an important role during the
financing of the infrastructural improvements by IFIs and the
SEETO's presence in our SEETAC partnership is crucial. SEETO
guarantees the elaboration of the methodology for the selection of
priority projects and its representatives underlined that SEETAC
goes hand in hand with the activities foreseen by SEETO. In this
partnership SEETAC can provide SEETO with the collected data and
the analysis of future scenarios.
Finally, I strongly believe SEETAC is helping the IPA countries
in their accession progress with the EU by improving their
transport system and infrastructures. It is also boosting their
competitiveness and economic development, which are two crucial
conditions the candidates need in order to meet the
requirements to finally access the EU.
4. To your mind, which are, the most important results
achieved by SEETAC in the field of transport and transnational
I would like to single out three main SEETAC results. The first
one is the institutional cooperation: SEETAC served as a platform
of cooperation on transport issues among Transport Ministries from
EU Member States, EU candidates and potential EU candidates. We
could never have achieved these important results without the
active collaboration of the institutional representatives in the
The second result is the comprehensive transport analysis of
South East Europe. The project provided technical topics and latest
traffic data for the integration of the Western Balkans in the EU
transport system, by demonstrating the benefits of an extension of
the Trans-European Transport Network TEN-T to the
Western Balkan countries.
The third result is the assessment of the present transport
situation and future scenarios in the SEE region. The modelling
analysis has provided a complete assessment of the current
technical and functional characteristics of the road, rail and
waterway systems in the region. Modelling outcomes have
highlighted the growth potential of SEE infrastructure.
Important results have also been reached in the identification of
necessary financial resources and financing mechanisms mainly
focused on the need to eliminate cross-border bottlenecks.
5. How can the results of SEETAC be used in the future
development of transport policies in the WB countries and why is it
SEETAC 2 so important?
At European level SEETAC results will be of special interest in
the development of transport policies in the Western Balkan
countries. We have received a lot of positive feedbacks on the
outcome of SEETAC. SEETO shows interest in cooperation in the
project evaluation phase of infrastructural improvements and data
exchange. Another input was given during the last SEETAC
Ministerial conference in Bled, where the Coordinator of the Danube
region strategy for mobility-road, air and rail stressed the
importance of the results achieved by the project which will be
taken into consideration in the future.
The excellent results achieved by SEETAC are encouraging us to
continue. The partners involved in SEETAC and the European
Commission expressed their willingness to continue this joint
collaboration to build a new initiative. Currently, the CEI is in
the final stage of the negotiations with the SEE programme for the
kick-off of a transport project "Accessibility improved at border
CROSsings for the integration of South East Europe (ACROSSEE)"which
was build on the results of SEETAC and foresees to improve and
finally solve some of the criticalities exposed by SEETAC.