European Union transport ministers have reached an agreement on proposals to transform existing roads, railways, airports and canals into a unified European transport network by 2020.

The proposed Regulation for Guidelines for Trans-European Networks (TEN-T) will cost $660bn and be implemented to remove cross-border bottlenecks, upgrade infrastructure and streamline cross-border transport operations across the EU. EU Commission vice president Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, said this is a significant step forwards.

"Transport is the lifeblood of the European economy. And if it does not flow smoothly, our economy will weaken and fail to grow," Kallas said.

"Ministers have today given strong political backing for plans to build the strategic transport connections necessary to fuel Europe’s future economic growth."

The TEN-T network includes ten transport corridors, connecting 86 main European ports, 37 airports and upgrading 15,000km of railway to high speed, as well as 35 cross-border projects spanning across the continent, from Sweden to Italy and Portugal to Paris.

EU transport ministers agreed on a plan to implement the core transport network by 2030 which will be complemented by a comprehensive transport network feeding into the core network by 2050.

TEN-T network requires that road safety standards including tunnel safety requirements, road safety norms and an intelligent transport system should be uniform across the network.

If electric vehicle infrastructure charging points are to be built in future, the system is required to be of common standard across the network for easy operability.

The agreement is the first step of the legislative process, to be approved by the European Parliament, with the vote expected in early 2013 and adoption of final text in the first half of 2013.