ITAN in brief n. 1, Transports, September 2014
Map 1 displays two types of opposition. The first is about demographic density. The second is about the network density: all the European territory is meshed, at various degrees but anyhow meshed, including Eastern Europe up to Moscow and including Turkey on its European territory up to central Anatolia. In the Arab Neighbour countries, the network is much more limited, for geoclimatic reasons as well as economic reasons.
Road network in the Neighbourhoods is less dense than in the EU. This is especially true for most remote Russian regions and for desert areas in North Africa and Eastern Mediterranean. The network is dense in the Eastern Mediterranean coast but becomes rapidly sparse when moving away from the coast, except in the Nile valley where it is fairly good up to Aswan. A similar pattern exists in the Maghreb, with good road endowment near the coast that worsens when moving far away from it. Between Tunisia and the Nile delta, the road network is much sparser, effectively creating a gap between Maghreb and the Eastern Mediterranean. The quality of the networks is also quite different, as the number of high capacity roads with lane separation is much smaller in all the Neighbourhoods; apart from Israel, they are only significant in Turkey, part of the Eastern Mediterranean coast and part of the Maghreb.
There is continuity between road networks including with Neighbourhoods: eastward, and with Turkey. But some borders are closed and crossing others implies long administrative delays; this happens mainly in the Southern (in particular between Morocco and Algeria) and Eastern Mediterranean countries (due to the political unrest in the Near East), but also, to minor though rising extent, between Russia and Ukraine.
In the Neighbourhoods, rail network is more sparse and patchy than road network, and of worse quality than in the EU. Especially noticeable is the absence of rail network in most of Libya. The Eastern Neighbourhood however, especially Russia and Ukraine, has a relatively good endowment. High speed rail is right now non-existent throughout all the Neighbourhoods, although several projects are designed. Morocco intends to create 1,500 km of high-speed rail in the two coming decades, to thoroughly modernise its old inter-city network up to Algeria and Tunisia –when financially and politically possible.
As a whole, an important difference between networks in the EU and the ENCs is the transnational continuity. Many Neighbour countries have borders that are difficult to cross or even completely shut, such as those between Morocco and Algeria or Occupied Palestinian territory and Israel. In some cases links are missing, making it impossible to move between neighbouring regions, as for example in the Turkey/Syria or Israel/Jordan borders. The rail network has some extra continuity problems across the neighbourhood as there are incompatibilities between systems in terms of gauge and electrification.
Maps 2 and 3 give the resulting connectivity and accessibility in the wider European region. The number of accessible persons in a span of time of three hours displays a harsh opposition between Western Europe and its outskirts. A striking feature is that the northern part of Maghreb is linked to the European territory in terms of accessibility. At the other extremity of the Mediterranean Neighbourhood, the connection is also strong in Turkey. Another area of important demographic accessibility is the Nile valley but due to local high demographic density and without any connection to Europe. Eastern Neighbourhoods but also, more surprisingly, Western Balkans, display medium to quite low accessibility areas, due to local limited density and/or access to western Europe. The report offers maps computed with other access time, from 30 minutes to five hours. But the three hours indicator seems relevant: it is sufficiently large to avoid any bias due to the very uneven size of the territories (SNUTS 2-3) on the basis of which the map was made; it is sufficiently small to correspond to a possible return trip in the day, which is a proxy of business needs for interaction.