The European Commission has published the fourth call for proposals for the creation and upgrade of freight transport services under the second Marco Polo programme. The projects to be chosen will fight congestion on European roads and improve the environmental performance of the freight transport system which are 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 more environmentally friendly modes such as 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 five years. However only projects capable of demonstrating viable 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 of getting 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 market barriers in European freight transport
  • 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 and preferably promoting the use of the most environmentally friendly transport modes such as inland waterways and rail for hinterland freight transport and integrated door-to-door services
  • Traffic avoidance actions which integrate transport into production logistics reducing freight transport demand by road with a direct impact on emissions
  • Common learning actions which will encourage the improvement of cooperation and sharing of know-how between stakeholders in the freight logistics sector

The budget for the 2010 call is €64 million. The funding intensity is the same as for last year i.e. €2 per 500 tonne-kilometres of freight shifted off the roads. A single company will be able to apply for a Marco Polo grant this year and the eligibility thresholds are now lower than in the past thus making it easier for smaller enterprises to participate. The overall procedure has become simpler and faster with in perspective a shorter time from the day of application until the signature of the grant agreements.

The full call text including information on how to apply for a grant is available on the Marco Polo website

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Original Publication Date: Tue 27 Jul 2010