© European Union , 2015 Source: EC – Audiovisual Service Photo: Etienne Ansotte
The European Commission published its summary report Overcoming Obstacles in Border Regions as part of a public consultation to investigate the barriers of crossing European borders.
Among the obstacles, including legal and administrative and language barriers, difficult physical access was the third most common obstacle encountered. This was followed by economic disparities, public authorities’ co-operation and socio-cultural differences. A lack of trust was the least commonly cited reason for avoiding cross-border travel.
The report states:
“A frequent topic concerns integrated public transport services in border regions, and is one of the main problems respondents face in their daily lives. Different public transport systems functioning in isolation from one another without taking into account what happens beyond the border are often mentioned…. some [respondents] emphasise that market forces often lead to a level of transport service provision unable to match the needs of some border region residents, forcing them to use their cars as the only viable means of cross-border transport.”
The lack of an integrated public transport system, with a lack of connections, particularly in rail, and the low frequency of connections, were highlighted as problems. For some borders, for instance natural borders like mountains or rivers, this could not be overcome simply by better co-operation between Member States, but in the case of straight-forward borders, issues like ticket fares and systems hinder cross-border travel and can be addressed by better co-operation.
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