The European Commission on Wednesday pledged to push for upgrades in road and rail infrastructure under an action plan to get EU countries to cooperate on shifting troops and military hardware around the bloc.
By next year, the Commission said it will review transport networks to assess where investment is needed to ensure infrastructure is suitable to move military wares like tanks around.
A pilot exercise last fall showed that in several countries, the maximum height clearance and weight tolerance of certain bridges “isn’t sufficient for oversized or over-weighted military vehicles,” the plan said.
National governments should first conduct their own stock takes on the infrastructure upgrades required, the Commission said. Brussels will then draw up a list of priority projects for funding.
A proposal on how to finance the upgrades will come under the EU’s next long-term budget, the multi-annual financial framework, Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc said Wednesday. The proposal for the MFF is due to be published May 2.
The plan also asks EU countries to “consistently take military requirements into account when building transport infrastructure.”
Brussels intends to streamline administrative processes like customs checks for the movement of troops and hardware. Emphasizing the need for a “joint approach to defense” including “strong joint coordination,” Bulc was keen to downplay concerns over the proposal, stating: “This is not a military Schengen zone.”
The plan is being pitched as a part of the European Defense Union initiative, due to be set up by 2025. The Commission will issue a progress report in mid-2019.