Soon after the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1950-52, a number of ministers and parliamentarians in the Six suggested that further sectoral ‘communities’, based on similar supranational principles, should be established. Although ideas for a European Agricultural Community (or ‘green pool’) and a European Health Community (or ‘white pool’) came to nothing, serious consideration was given to establishing a European Transport Organization, modeled closely on the ECSC. Faced with serious resistance from the West German government, however, it was eventually agreed that a looser, intergovernmental body – known as the European Conference of Ministers of Transport – should be set up instead.
Established in October 1953, the ECMT was concerned primarily with promoting practical cooperation in road transport, railways and inland waterways across Europe. Eventually comprising 51 countries (including associates and observers), the body’s Council of Ministers met once a year to discuss the technical, administrative and economic aspects of transport policy, on the basis of detailed preparatory work at official level. The ECMT’s secretariat was provided by the Organization for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC), and later by its successor, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The Conference’s main conclusions were often adopted in the form of resolutions and sometimes as conventions among the participating states. The Conference became an important source of statistics on transport use, accidents, investment, traffic forecasts and related issues. Its value in policy-making, however, was largely overtaken by the emergence of a common transport policy within the European Union, as well as by cooperation in various other intergovernmental fora. In May 2006, the ECMT decided to transform itself into a new International Transport Forum (ITF), which would aspire to a wider membership outside Europe and also include non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Since 2008, an annual ITF meeting has been held each May in Leipzig, with the old ECMT committee of deputies replaced by a management board. The OECD continues to service its operations.
Copyright: Anthony Teasdale, 2012
Citation: The Penguin Companion to European Union (2012), additional website entry