“We are responding to our European obligations. We are strengthening airport security. We carry out key transport infrastructure projects with the mandated traffic congestion management. We are creating a better operation of long-distance and urban public road transport” emphasized the Minister of Infrastructure and Transport Christos Staikouras during his initial presentation in the Plenary on the bill for the “Incorporation of Directive 2006/1/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of January 18, 2006 on the use of hired vehicles without a driver in road freight transport, as amended by Directive (EU) 2022/738 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 April 2022, and Directive (EU) 2021/1187 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 July 2021, on streamlining measures to promote the implementation of the trans-European transport network, and other transport provisions’.

Mr. Staikouras, starting his presentation, expressed his “disgust and pain over the tragic accident and the attack on the hospital in Gaza” noting that “in this environment of great geopolitical instability, security and self-restraint must prevail. As a government and the prime minister, we have repeatedly said that we recognize the right to self-defense, but within the framework of International Law. Preventing a humanitarian crisis, strengthening security and even more guarding our borders.”

Regarding the results of the self-administered elections, he said that “despite the fact that the results of the elections are positive for the governing majority, I will again argue that the polls always have messages for everyone – and we should evaluate them with modesty, responsibility and respect for the citizen’s verdict” and added: “As the political leadership of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, we must congratulate all regional governors and mayors who were elected and cooperate with all self-government bodies in the implementation of infrastructure projects and the development programs of each region.”

The minister, for the draft law of the integration of the two Directives, responded to the comments of the rapporteurs and buyers of the opposition, he said that the bill had been in consultation for two weeks and received only two comments! He noticed that the report of the Scientific Committee does not confirm any of the objections heard and all it has are some legal and technical observations that we will try to incorporate most of them by the end of the meeting. He rejected the criticisms of the opposition for the fact that in the bill there are other provisions apart from the Directives, saying that these were mature and were included in order not to come as amendments to other bills so that there is the possibility of better parliamentary processing. In the disagreements recorded by the SYRIZA rapporteur on the extensions of the transport project at the OASTH, Mr. Staikouras wondered if “what you are actually proposing to us so that there are no public costs is for the OASTH to go to private individuals?”, noting that “it is it is obvious that whatever choice we make, the state pays the OASTH” and added that “these extensions preserve the status that existed under SYRIZA”.

Analyzing the goals, the minister said that it is the country’s response to its obligations towards the European Union.

The further strengthening of airport security. The best execution of critical transport infrastructure projects with the mandated management of the traffic burden. The best operation of intercity and urban public road transport.

On the articles of the bill, Mr. Staikouras gave clarifications to the opposition MPs: In terms of the vehicle that can be rented, the trailer is also included. The notification of the lease agreement is foreseen by the competent Department of Transport and Communications of the region. The district will issue a certificate of notification of the lease agreement. In this certificate, which will be granted after a check by the competent service of the assistance of the legal conditions of the lease, the transport work of the leased truck will be written, among other things. There is an authorization for the issuance of a ministerial decision, which will determine the conditions and supporting documents for the issuance of a notification certificate. DX truck leasing refers to leasing from purely Greek companies. With the DX truck leased to a non-transport company, only the transport work of the companies can be carried out. He emphasized that nothing changes about the leases from the local government from what is provided by Law 4093/2012. “We are not changing anything. We are improving it legislatively by adding the heresy of Union law”.

Regarding the Directive concerning the trans-European transport network, he pointed out: “The policy of the European Union aims to facilitate transport within Europe and reduce regional, economic and social disparities through the development of interconnected air, road, rail and maritime infrastructures transportation. This forms the basis of the policy for the development of the trans-European transport network. Regulation 1315/2013 is expected to enter into force in the first half of 2024 with a completion time of 2050, where it will be developed gradually with proposed deadlines in 2030, 2040 and 2050 for the extended network”. He noted that the main change for Greece is the abolition of the Orient/East-Med Corridor, which with the 2013 Regulation is the only corridor connecting the country to Central Europe. He is replaced by two new ones with different corridor architecture. The first corridor is the Western Balkans-Eastern Mediterranean European Transport Corridor, which revives Pan-European Corridor 10 and connects Greece with Austria, Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia and North Macedonia and the Baltic, Black Sea and Aegean European Corridor – the Three Seas, i.e. – evolution of the existing one that connects Greece with Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and a number of other countries. The integration of our Directive, the minister underlined, “enables us to run more quickly the projects on these two corridors that will be decided in 2024 so that the country can claim resources and make a better mainly railway network”

Regarding the flood prevention projects of great, strategic importance, Mr. Staikouras stated that these “are the responsibility of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport.

All other projects – and they are not legislation of the last government – belong to the regions.” Responding to the question of whether anti-flooding projects are being carried out, he said that “today studies are underway for 28.9 million euros for eleven major anti-flooding projects. Ten more are implemented for a total amount of 344 million euros in the Regions of Attica, Central Macedonia and Peloponnese. Another four €197m projects are under contract, as are two €497m PPP projects.’ To these, he said, “one should also add 49 irrigation projects that come under the Ministry’s responsibility for implementation by the Ministry of Rural Development and Food, with a budget of 642 million euros and which are in different stages of maturity.”

Regarding the reinforcement with permanent staff of the CAA, the minister said “Proclamation 1GB/2023 has been issued on August 9, 2023 for 140 positions of various branches and specialties of PE and TE for the CAA. In addition, 35 air traffic controllers are being recruited.

Regarding the provisions of the ministerial amendment, Mr. Staikouras said that there is a commitment by the country regarding the service of the 250 new electric buses in Athens and Thessaloniki.

Regarding the temporary assignment of the transport project to OASTH, the minister said that “I would like the opinion of all parties – what we will do with OASTH as we will have to take some initiatives.

Finally, regarding the implementation of the Flyover, in Thessaloniki, the minister stated that “in addition to the other initiatives, we are also proceeding with specific initiatives so that KTEL will carry out a specific traffic project in Thessaloniki in the next period of time, in the next few days we will have approximately 70 new routes in Thessaloniki, while the process of recruiting 150 drivers for OATH for six months is being completed within the next hours, maybe days, in order to cover needs with the existing fleet of OATH, which currently exists”.