Changes in the discipline of transport economics in Europe have implications :for different modes, topics, and agents within the field. This article presents some of the most important changes, with a focus on the situation within the European Union (EU). The EU offers a coherent institutional basis for presenting some important regulations toward liberalization, in this case, those that are part of so-called European Common Transport Policy. The selection of the topics has depended largely on the interest and expertise of the author; obviously, other important topics developed by experts from individual countries or even transport authorities within their boundaries could expand the discussion.
The European Union (EU) originated from an uncoordinated patchwork of different driving forces, disconnected networks, and strong national regimes. The pace toward more coordinated policies, for instance, in the area of a common transport policy (CTP), has usually followed a gradual approach not exempt from some frustration and failures.
Transport is one of the connecting principles of European integration policy (Nijkamp et al. 1998). In 2001 the European Commission proposed in a white paper more than 50 measures to develop a transport system capable of shifting the balance between modes of transport, revitalizing the railways, promoting transport by sea and inland waterways, and controlling the growth in air transport (COM 2001). Because the difficulties implementing the CTP developed by the Treaty of Rome were clear at that time, it was necessary for the Treaty of Maastricht to reinforce the political, institutional, and budgetary foundations for transport policy, inter alia, by introducing the concept of the Trans-European Network (TEN).
The commission's vision on the future development of the CTP, published in December 1992(COM 1992), focuses on opening up the transport market. However, the more or less rapid implementation of the European Community's (EC's) decisions according to modes of transport explains the existence of certain difficulties, such as (1) unequal growth in the different modes of transport; (2) congestion on the main roads and rail routes, in cities and at certain airports; and (3) harmful effects on the environment and public health, and poor road safety.
Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) policy aims to provide the infrastructure needed for the internal market to function smoothly and for the objectives of the Lisbon Agenda, with special emphasis on economic growth and employment. It also promotes accessibility and territorial cohesion. It facilitates every EU citizen's right to move freely within the territory of the member states, integrating environmental protection requirements with a view to promoting sustainable development (COM 2009, 1).
One of the major debates in transport economics in recent decades has been whether transport infrastructure investments, in well-developed or emerging economies, promote economic growth, mainly at the urban, regional and national level, and, consequently, how the impact of such investments can be measured. This controversial issue is one of the key determinants of decisions on transport infrastructure investments, and one of the principal instruments that has been used in the past to promote social cohesion between the different...