Building and Governing EU Networks
The EU’s basic objective is to create a single European Market as a tool for political integration. This objective is being transposed into all economically strategic sectors, including at a data level in each of these sectors.
In the infrastructures, this objective translates into the unbundling of the network industries into a monopolistic infrastructure on the one hand and a market for services delivered on the basis of these infrastructures on the other.
Based on these unbundled infrastructures at the national level, the EU aims at creating interconnected infrastructures which offer full interoperability for all the services provided on these infrastructures. This aim is being implemented in a systematic way in electricity (“copper-plate Europe”), in railways (“Single European Railway Area”) and in air transport (“Single European Sky”). One could add to this road infrastructures and perhaps telecommunications infrastructures, even though unbundling does not take place there in the same way.
Of course, the implementation of this idea progresses differently in the different infrastructures, owing to technological specificities, national interests, and funding requirements, among others. In this NIQ we will look at energy, rail and air EU-wide infrastructures, how they have developed, whether they make progress, and what obstacles they encounter. In the last paper, we will also explore the idea as to whether this idea of an EU-wide infrastructure can also apply to digitalisation.
The first contribution by Pototschnig analyses energy network development planning and implementation. The author argues that optimally dimensioned and efficiently operated energy networks in Europe is the key to the integration of the EU energy market, the increasing penetration of renewable-based generation and security of supply.
Mastrodonato explores the creation of a seamless and competitive European railway network. He argues that the ongoing railway regulations’ revision should help to strengthen the coordination at the European level. The railway industry has to improve cross-border services and be ready to prioritise the needed investments.
Finger, Serafimova and Zeki reflect on the air transport, which unlike the other network industries has always been unbundled. Despite of that, the integration of the Air Traffic Management into one single European Sky is moving slowly; the currently most promising option to accelerate the process might be digitalisation.
Montero and Finger discuss digitalisation, which enables a new way of constructing the single market in the network industries. Digital platforms are in the position to build virtual networks on top of fragmented national assets and services managed by third parties, providing a seamless experience to users. In this sense, digital networks are a new tool to build a smarter single European market.