Rossen Jeliazkov presented the Bulgarian position on the COVID-19 impact on transport to his EU colleagues

The Minister of Transport, Information Technology and Communications Rossen Jeliazkov presented the Bulgarian position during today's informal meeting of the EU Ministers of Transport. The videoconference meeting on "Sustainable and Digital Recovery of the Transport Sector" examines the effects of COVID-19 on transport by sector.

In the field of land transport, the Minister said that the Bulgarian side encourages the efforts of the EC in support of the railway sector and preparation of a legislative proposal on the charges for the use of railway infrastructure. He also expressed support for joint initiatives for green and digital international rail transport, as well as for the proposal to declare 2021 the year of rail transport. "It is necessary to pay attention to the development and promotion of combined transport, which in a pandemic proved its added value", said Rossen Jeliazkov.

With regard to the development of sustainable international road freight transport, the Minister noted that targeted European financial support is required, as this mode of transport is the backbone of the Single European Market.

"The restoration and development of a sustainable transport service in the field of road transport is also linked to the necessary legal certainty for the sector. We call for roadside checks to take into account the integrated application of heterogeneous rules and derogations in the Member States in the event of an emergency situation", pointed out Rossen Jeliazkov. He added that the economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis must go hand in hand with the green transition. "In this regard, it is necessary to rethink some of the legislative initiatives. Provisions such as the return of vehicles in a certain period in the country of establishment would lead to a significant increase in harmful carbon emissions from road transport. This is contrary to the goals set in the Green Deal. These provisions should be clearly considered as incompatible with European policies and hindering the successful strengthening of the sector after the crisis", said Minister Jeliazkov. 

In air transport, the view was expressed that the situation was serious and that urgent financial support was needed for the sector. With regard to air navigation services providers, the Minister called on the EC to ensure a balanced and fair approach in the implementation of the efficiency scheme for the third reference period. Air navigation services providers should be able to recover their expenses for 2020/2021. The Minister pointed out that a comprehensive package of regulatory measures at EU level is needed for sustainable growth in aviation.

With regard to maritime transport, Bulgaria has made significant progress in the digitalisation of information and the introduction of digital systems for ship traffic management and information services, which contributes to dealing with the consequences of the crisis. Thanks to this, significant difficulties have been overwhelmed, which would lead to losses in every respect – time, money, competitiveness.

By the middle of 2022, the Bulgarian state plans to expand the scope of digitalization to include cargo handling in ports. This will create favorable conditions for the further development of multimodal transport. The system for electronic exchange of information in Bulgarian ports (Port Community System) is to be built, the implementation of which will significantly improve the efficiency of maritime transport, especially in circumstances similar to those of the current crisis.

"Urgent measures are needed to speed up the recovery of the maritime sector and minimize losses. The proposal of the Bulgarian side is to approve aid schemes aimed at providing liquidity and access to finance, as well as measures to maintain employment in the branch, including providing financial assistance to companies affected by the crisis", said Minister Jeliazkov.

"The easing of the state aid regime can play a major role in the successful stabilization and recovery of the transport sector in the short run. This will allow the revitalization of viable enterprises. In the long run, securing the necessary investments is crucial. An important factor in this regard is the provision of sufficient funding from the instruments at EU level, which will ensure support for the transport sector in a sustainable, efficient and intelligent way", said in conclusion Minister Rossen Jeliazkov.