The European Commission has published (10 February) the third call for proposals for the creation and update of freight transport services under the second Marco Polo programme. Successful projects should fight congestion on European roads and improve the environmental performance of the freight transport system, two main objectives of the EU transport policy. Companies across the European Union and beyond are invited to submit proposals.
The general aim of the Marco Polo programme is to help companies introduce services that shift freight off the road and on to short-sea shipping, rail and inland waterways. This support is available during the high-risk start-up phase of the projects.
The top-ranked projects in the competitive evaluation process will be offered grant contracts of up to six 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 for a grant.
The call is open to applications for five types of actions :
Modal shift actions which will shift freight from the road to short sea shipping, rail, inland waterways or a combination of modes of transport ;
Highly innovative catalyst actions which are aimed at overcoming structural barriers in the freight transport market in the European Union, such as low-speed of freight trains or technical interoperability problems between transport modes ;
Common learning actions which will improve cooperation and optimise working methods and procedures between actors in the freight transport chain.
Motorways of the Sea actions which shift freight from road to short sea shipping or a combination of short sea shipping and other modes of transport, offering a very large-volume, high-frequency intermodal maritime transport service.
Traffic avoidance actions which integrate transport into production logistics in order to reduce freight transport demand by road.
The budget for the 2009 call has been increased to €62 million compared to €60 in 2008. In parallel, the funding intensity has been raised from €1 to €2 per 500 tonne-kilometres shifted off the roads.
The full call text including information on how to apply for a grant is available on the Marco Polo website :