17 Jan, 2018

Transport Community Becomes a Reality – Here’s What You Need to Know

At the end of last year, the Act on Ratification of the Treaty Establishing the Transport Community (“Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia – International Agreements“, No. 011/2017) (the “Act”), concluded by and between the European Union (the “EU”) and the South East European Parties—i.e. the Republic of Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Republic of Albania and Kosovo [1]  (the “South East European Parties”)—came into force, which effectively implies that Serbia has already joined the EU, at least with respect to rail, road, inland waterway and maritime transport sectors.

The aim of the Treaty Establishing the Transport Community (the “Treaty“) is the creation of a transport community in the fields of road, rail, inland waterway and maritime transport, as well as development of the transport network between the EU and the South East European Parties.  Also, the Treaty implies the obligation of the contracting parties to apply the EU acquis regarding the transport sectors (excluding the air transport), with emphasis on acquis concerning social, environmental and public procurement issues, as well as their liability to apply standards with respect to traffic management and safety, along with other technical standards. This further means the direct application of EU rules governing the transport sector and related issues in Serbia, which are contained within regulations, directives and decisions of EU authorities explicitly listed in Annex I to the Treaty.

The Treaty provides, in accordance with their mutual agreements, the facilitation of administrative formalities and procedures between contracting parties when crossing from one customs territory to another. Also, in relation to railway undertakings licensed in an EU Member State or by a South East European Party, the Treaty provides the right of access to the infrastructure in all EU Member States and South East European Parties, for the purpose of operating international rail passenger or freight services. Specifically, the Treaty provides there shall be no restrictions on the validity of licenses, certificates and authorizations of railway undertakings and train drivers issued by the EU or a South East European Party.

In addition to the above mentioned, the Treaty and EU acts listed in Annex I to the Treaty contain a number of other rules, jointly aimed to convergence of South East European Parties towards the EU operating standards and policies on transport, as well as to development of the indicative TEN-T extension of Comprehensive and Core Network to the Western Balkans.

Accordingly, by ratifying this Treaty, Serbia has undertaken the obligation to implement the regulations listed in Annex I to the Treaty. Upon the expiration of transitional periods set forth in Protocols I-VI to the Treaty, the relevant regulations shall enable the contracting parties to exercise their rights and obligations, i.e. the integration of their transport markets.

The transport community established by the Treaty, often referred to as the “small EU“, has set not only a legal framework for the future development of the contracting parties’ legislation in the field of transport, but has also set a basis for improving their transport infrastructure and the overall quality of their transport services. Certainly, the subject community is of particular importance for development of the Western Balkans region, with the help of joint projects and financial mechanisms of the EU.

Which regulations will Serbia implement and within what timeframe? What can be expected of the “small EU” in the future and what does it all mean for transport companies in the region? More, on this undeniably colossal step towards Serbia’s EU integration, coming soon in a series of articles on our website.

1 This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with United Nations Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) and the International Court of Justice Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.