European Commission publishes proposals for improved mobility

01 June 2017

01 June 2017

Transport in Europe is set to change following the publication of a set of initiatives intended to improve many areas of travel from pollution to congestion. The aim of the proposals are to ensure the sector remains competitive as it transitions towards a cleaner and digital future. 

The plans are set out under the title ′Europe on the Move‘ and promote ideas to make traffic safer; encourage fairer road charging; reduce CO2 emissions, air pollution and congestion; cut red-tape for businesses; fight illicit employment and ensure proper conditions and rest times for workers. The long-term benefits of these measures will extend far beyond the transport sector by promoting jobs, growth and investment, strengthening social fairness, widening consumers’ choices and firmly putting Europe on the path towards low emissions. 

The vision is set out on three pillars: Clean; Fair and Competitive; and Connected. Under the Clean strategy, EU member states will be free to introduce road charging, although there needs to be some common principles in place, including charging for distance driven rather than time to reflect usage and pollution, and charges based on emissions performance, a plan it put forward in April 2017. The Commission is also working on post-2020/2021 CO2 targets for cars and vans, and on the first-ever CO2 targets for heavy duty vehicles. The commission also wants to improve the alternative fuel infrastructure throughout the continent to aid promotion of electric vehicles (EVs).  

Under ′Fair and Competitive’, the initiative wants to ensure proper conditions for workers and new opportunities for companies, especially in the road transport sector. This includes fighting against illicit employment practices and ′letterbox companies’. There will be improved cross-border cooperation and a better enforcement system as well as introducing common rules for all member states to avoid confusion. 

Finally, under the Connected pillar, the commission wants to pave the way for automated driving, which it believes has the potential to reduce CO2 levels and congestion. As well as this, it suggests common specifications for electronic tolling to ensure drivers do not have to buy on-board units for each national system.  

Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc comments: ′The EU has a unique opportunity to not only lead the modernisation of road transport at home, but also globally. Our reforms will set the foundation for standardised, digital road solutions, fairer social conditions and enforceable market rules. They will help decrease the socio-economic costs of transport, like time lost in traffic, road fatalities and serious injuries, health risks from pollution and noise, whilst serving the needs of citizens, businesses and nature. Common standards and cross-border services will also help make multimodal travel a reality across Europe.’ 

The Commission’s long-term strategy plans to deliver smart, socially fair and competitive mobility by 2025, using targeted legislation and supporting measures, including infrastructure investment, research and innovation.″¯ 

The measures have been welcomed by the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA), highlighting the positive impact it will have on the industry and the recognition it provides. A statement released by the body comments: ′An important component of this agenda is reducing transport-related greenhouse gas emissions. Further reductions of CO2 from cars and vans beyond 2020 will be strongly dependent on increased sales of alternatively-powered vehicles. However, this will only be achievable with a higher level of investments in recharging and refuelling infrastructure. The Directive on Alternative Fuel Infrastructure has already set clear objectives for member states’ deployment of the relevant charging infrastructure, but unfortunately its implementation to date has been poor. ACEA therefore strongly supports the Commission’s intention to publish a much-needed European Action Plan on alternative fuels infrastructure, which will address market failures, propose follow-up actions and strategic recommendations, and create a new funding package.‘ 

The first batch of eight proposals will be complemented over the next 12 months by other proposals, including on post-2020 emissions standards for cars, vans and heavy-duty vehicles. 

The EU Commission has been vocal about its desires to adopt policies that will improve transport cooperation, including plans to facilitate cross-border testing of connected and autonomous vehicles.