The Marco Polo programme is the successor of the PACT-programme (Pilot Actions on Combined Transport), which was active until 2001. The aim of the PACT was the development of a sustainable transport system. Subsidies were administrated to innovative projects for the benefit of combined transport, to projects which realised a shift towards environmental friendly transport modes as well as to projects which promote the development of cleaner cars and the development of telematics in transport.
Marco Polo I: 2003-2006
The Marco Polo programme aimed at supporting a key element in the policy of the 2001 Transport Policy White Paper . This key element intended to achieve a balanced modal shift, thanks to the contribution of intermodality.
The principal goal of the Marco Polo programme was to reduce congestion on roads as well as to improve the whole transport sector in a more ecological way. This could be reached by transferring road transport to sea (Short Sea Shipping), to rail or to inland waterways. The Marco Polo programme was introduced by the Commission on 30 January 2002 and became valid in 2003 (MAP-001).
The Marco Polo programme supported the following projects:
- Start-up support for new non-road freight transport services, which should be viable in the mid-term and which support modal shift;
- Support for launching freight services or facilities of strategic European interest (catalyst in the freight logistics market);
- Stimulating replication, and forging common goals, based on projects executed in the market
The projects should always have an international nature. The Marco Polo programme could also support projects submitted by candidate Member States.
Marco Polo II: 2007-2013
In July 2004, the European Commission introduced a new and adapted Marco Polo Programme II for the period 2007 – 2013 through “Regulation (EG) Nr. 1692/2006 (MAP-002). On the basis of the experience with the first programme, some modifications were made.
On 27 July 2009, the Council of Ministers amended the second Marco Polo programme by suggesting the simplification of the use of funds in the programme. This amendment includes: simplification of the participation of small enterprises (a single enterprise can now appeal for an allowance), lower thresholds, bigger intensity of the investment and simplification of the application of the programme and of the administrative procedures (MAP-003). Before introducing a third call for proposals under Marco Polo programme, the European Commission will announce the results achieved in the period 2003 – 2010.
Some relevant documents:
MAP-003: Regulation (EC) No 923/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 September 2009 amending Regulation (EC) No 1692/2006 establishing the second “Marco Polo?? programme for the granting of Community financial assistance to improve the environmental performance of the freight transport system (Marco Polo II) (European Commission and the Council)
MAP-002: Regulation (EC) No 1692/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 2006 establishing the second “Marco Polo?? programme for the granting of Community financial assistance to improve the environmental performance of the freight transport system (Marco Polo II) and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1382/2003 (European Commission and the Council)
MAP-001: Regulation (EC) No 1382/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 July 2003 on the granting of community financial assistance to improve the environmental performance of the freight transport system (“Marco Polo programme??) (European Parliament and the Council)