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Iveta Radičová: the woman who… connects East to West

An exclusive interview to Iveta Radičová, European Coordinator for the TEN-T Mediterranean Corridor

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  Per la versione in Italiano: https://www.stradeeautostrade.it/incontri-e-interviste/iveta-radicova-la-donna-che-connette-oriente-e-occidente/

The Mediterranean Corridor is the main east-west axis in the TEN-T Network south of the Alps. It runs between the south-western Mediterranean region of Spain and the Ukrainian border with Hungary, following the coastlines of Spain and France and crossing the Alps towards the east through Italy, Slovenia and Croatia and continuing through Hungary up to its eastern border with Ukraine.

The corridor primarily consists of road and rail, aside from the Po River, several canals in Northern Italy and the Rhone River from Lyon to Marseille. The corridor is approximately 3.000 km long. It will provide a multimodal link for the ports of the Western Mediterranean with the center of the EU.

It will also create an east-west link through the southern part of the EU, contribute to a modal shift from road to rail in sensitive areas such as the Pyrenees and the Alps, and connect some of the major urban areas of the EU with high-speed trains.

The fundamental section of the Corridor is the new cross-border connection between France and Italy (Lyon-Turin), which has been a much-debated issue lately.

Iveta Radičová
The Mediterranean Corridor is the main east-west axis in the TEN-T Network south of the Alps. It runs between the south-western Mediterranean region of Spain and the Ukrainian border with Hungary, following the coastlines of Spain and France and crossing the Alps towards the east through Italy, Slovenia and Croatia and continuing through Hungary up to its eastern border with Ukraine

We have asked some questions about this and other topics to Iveta Radičová, who was in Italy on the last March 27th for a double visit promoted by AIPo to important infrastructures of the waterway system of the Northern Italy: the port of Valdaro (Mantua) and the Serafini Island navigation basin on the Po river (Monticelli d’Ongina, Piacenza), inaugurated a year ago.

“Strade & Autostrade”: “You have been recently nominated European Coordinator for the Mediterranean Corridor: could you please illustrate your role and the characteristics of the Corridor?”.

“Iveta Radičová”: “The Mediterranean Corridor is the main east-west axis in the TEN-T network south of the Alps. In political terms, it also constitutes a major link between countries of Western Europe and the countries of Central Europe.

It runs between the most south-western region of Spain, following the Mediterranean coastlines of Spain and France, crossing the Alps towards the east through Italy, Slovenia and Croatia, continuing through Hungary up to its eastern border with Ukraine. With 18% of the EU’s population, the Mediterranean Corridor regions generates around 17% of the EU’s GDP.

It is a tremendous contribution. It is one of the most interconnected Corridors in Europe, crossed by seven other Core Network Corridors. It features in total 70 core nodes, including 12 highly competitive and global sea ports.

Finally, large parts of the Corridor traverse environmentally sensitive areas (the Alps) and touristic zones (the coastline). This Corridor has a high potential to shift from road/air to rail both for freight and passengers, utilizing better the high-speed network between dynamic urban zones and conventional rail lines for the transport of goods.

I was very pleased when the European Commission proposed me to become one of the European Coordinators for the trans-European transport network. This was an opportunity to join a team of distinguished personalities with strong international track records who commit themselves to help enhancing Europe’s transport system. We must pursue efforts to have the Corridor fully realised by 2030”.

“S&A”: “Which are, in your opinion, the main problems that must be solved in order to make the Corridor operational?”.

“IR”: “The Mediterranean Corridor is about 3000 km long. We must prioritize investments and make sure that they are not fragmented. Continuity and multimodal logic of highest standards are the key words that I would like to apply to this Corridor.

The investment planning has to be well coordinated between Member States and the EU. We need to resolve major bottlenecks that exist along various modes of transport.

The most important is the completion of key missing links, notably the cross-border sections. The three emblematic projects come to mind: Lyon-Turin base tunnel, high-speed line linking Barcelona with Montpellier, connections between Trieste-Ljubljana-Zagreb-Budapest up to the border with Ukraine.

We also need to complete missing key sections of national characteristic. The Corridor features dynamic urban nodes, they suffer from lack of capacity and have congested ring roads and we need to ensure full connectivity of maritime ports with hinterland.

This aspect is crucial for the full functioning of the Corridor as 9 out of 12 sea ports are ranked in the top 40 EU ports in terms of freight (source: Eurostat “EU transport in figures”, year 2017)”.

TEN-T Mediterranean Corridor
2.
“S&A”: “If you could illustrate the most important strengths of the Turin-Lyon high-speed railway to a decision-maker, on which ones would you bid?”.

“IR”: “The strategic position of the Lyon-Turin Base Tunnel is crucial for the whole Mediterranean Corridor. This is the most obvious missing link within the TEN-T MED Corridor, it is situated in an environmentally sensitive area and in close proximity with others crucial TEN-T Corridors such as North Sea-Mediterranean, Rhine-Alpine, and the Atlantic.

There is a strong potential for the development of international rail traffic (passengers and freight) on the Mediterranean Corridor. It cannot be achieved if we do not complete the Lyon-Turin project.

Once the new line is realised, it would become the main border crossing point for traffic flows between not only France and Italy, but far beyond, connecting the Iberian Peninsula to the eastern part of the continent.

The Lyon-Turin rail link is an emblematic, truly European and long-awaited investment. Lastly, we shall refrain from using the term “project”. The construction is ongoing with 65 km of test drillings, 25 km of tunnels dug (out of 162 km planned) and many people currently working on it, including local populations. Millions of euros – public money – have been spent since 2003 to reach the current stage”.

“S&A”: “Which are the next steps to make the Mediterranean Corridor into a Smart Road?”.

“IR”: “TEN-T Corridors, in general, are not only about logistics. They are about connectivity and improving citizen’s life. Therefore, the EU supports and welcomes all the projects situated along the Corridors that make them more environmentally friendly, test and apply innovative transport solutions, deploy alternative fuels, invest in intelligent transport systems, make connections safer and more efficient improving the traffic flow within congested areas of urban nodes”.

“S&A”: “Why, in your opinion, does the Turin-Lyon line find so much opposition, while for example there is none for the Brenner Base Tunnel, which has the same length and the same importance for the TEN-T network?”.

“IR”: “Transport Corridor means also a connection in a political sense. This question is more for the Italian Government. Our approach is always bottom-up. The EU plays a supporting role but a final decision on a given project always has to originate from national governments, in this case of Italy and France. From the European Coordinator perspective both projects are equally important because of their environmental positive impact, modal shift, and less congestion”.

“S&A”: “The EU co-finances the Turin-Lyon. Is there an ideal time schedule for the works completion?”.

“IR”: “The TEN-T Regulation 1315/2013 clearly states that Member States have to act appropriately to develop the core network by 2030. Lyon-Turin is on the Mediterranean corridor, part of the Core Network, and is also indicated as a pre-identified section of the Connecting Europe Facility Regulation (2014-2020).

The Council and European Parliament endorse the project as well as several of bilateral French-Italian Agreements. The rationale of the EU intervention is the EU value added. Without EU’s involvement, the Lyon-Turin tunnel would not be built given its very high costs.

The EU value added is therefore obvious. Crossing of the Alps between France and Italy is a clear transport bottleneck which the Lyon-Torino tunnel will contribute to overcome.

It will allow to connect the high speed rail networks of Italy and France. It will also allow an improved connection for rail freight, as today two, sometimes three locomotives have to be used to pass the historic tunnel, which does not meet requirements of a safe, modern and efficient link”.

AIPO
3. Iveta Radičová is the European Coordinator for the TEN-T Mediterranean Corridor
“S&A”: “On the last March 27th you visited the Port of Valdaro in Mantua and the navigation basin on the River Po of Isola Serafini, in the Province of Piacenza, for the first anniversary of its opening. Which were your impressions?”.

“IR”: “I applaud the Interregional Agency for the Po river (AIPo) for the overall vision on how to modernize and revive this mode of transport. Definitely, the inland navigation on the Po river and the associated canals could provide alternative solution to the congested freight traffic that runs along Po plane from West to East, from the industrial cities of Piedmont and Lombardy to the ports of Ravenna, Venice and further to Trieste.

Of course, the challenge is ensuring a sustainable and commercially viable navigability, which for the moment is not there. I have heard many positive words about future planning and investments.

Connecting Europe Facility will continue supporting inland waterways, as they play a crucial part in the overall decarbonisation agenda. Finally, keeping the river in good navigation conditions is profitable not only for transport, but it could be beneficial for tourism in this beautiful areas along the Po river”.

“S&A”: “Which measures will be implemented to make the Mediterranean Corridor a more safe and high-performing axis?”.

“IR”: “Beyond the realisation of the geographical components of the Mediterranean Corridor by 2030, I believe that we must also make sure that we “go with the time” and leverage the technical and technological advances that are within reach today.

Alternative fuels, intelligent transport systems, single windows, better multimodal connections should become a trademark of the Mediterranean Corridor. Many projects going into these directions are already being financed by the Connecting Europe Facility, an EU transport budget dedicated to a full implementation of core and comprehensive transport network in Europe”.

“S&A”: “Do you think that the difference in terms of gauge which still exists between the rail lines of some Countries can be included among the problems?”.

“IR”: “Absolutely, the co-existence of two gauges is a great challenge for this Corridor and one of the bottlenecks. The Spanish upgrade of the rail network to the standard international gauge (UIC) is one of priorities highlighted in the Coordinator’s work programme”.

Iveta Radičová Curriculum Vitae

Ms Iveta Radičová was born on 7 December 1956 in Bratislava, Slovakia. Ms Radičová was appointed European Coordinator for the TEN-T Mediterranean Corridor on 16 September 2018, following on Laurens Jan Brinkhorst. 

Previous assignments
  • 2011-2012: Minister of Defence
  • 2010-2012: Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic
  • 2006-2009: Deputy at the Slovak National Parliament
  • 2005-2006: Minister of Labour, Social Affairs and Family SR
  • 2005: Prof. Department of Sociology, Nitra, Slovakia; Director of Institute of Sociology, SAS
  • 1997: Department of Political Science, Faculty of Arts, Comenius University
  • 1993-1997: Academia Istropolitana, Deputy Director
  • 1990-1993: Department of Sociology, Faculty of Arts, Comenius University
  • 1979-1989: Institute of Sociology, Slovak Academy of Sciences
Current tasks
  • Dean, Faculty of Mass Media, Paneuropean University Slovakia
  • Professor, BISLA, Slovakia
  • Professor, Robert Bosch Academy, Berlin, Germany

  Per la versione in Italiano: https://www.stradeeautostrade.it/incontri-e-interviste/iveta-radicova-la-donna-che-connette-oriente-e-occidente/