EU plans for a greener and more competitive transport sector by 2050 need more concrete interim targets and adequate funding. This was the message delivered by Europe’s regional presidents and mayors to Commissioner Kallas today. Meeting at the Committee of the Regions plenary in Brussels they adopted a key transport opinion drafted by the Mayor of Lisbon Antonio Costa (PT/PES).

The European Commission recently outlined its ‘roadmap’ for upgrading the continent’s transport system and making it more sustainable by 2050. Regional and local authorities have a key role to play in transport policy for instance in maintaining the road network managing public transport and enforcing air quality standards. Presenting his proposals at the Committee of the Regions plenary today Siim Kallas Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for transport said: “I see the roadmap not only as a series of Commission objectives: I see it as a unique opportunity for local and regional authorities to shape the future of our transport system.”

Committee of the Regions President Mercedes Bresso expressed her satisfaction concerning the concrete modal shift proposed in the transport white paper from road to rail inland waterway and maritime transports: “We need greener and more efficient transports to tackle the challenge of global warming. This change should imply a strong involvement of public stakeholders at all levels.”

Contrary to some national governments the Committee of the Regions (CoR) supports the Commission’s main goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector by 60%. At the same time Europe’s regional presidents and mayors made it clear that they now expect practical steps concrete interim targets and appropriate funding from the EU level. Antonio Costa Mayor of Lisbon who drafted the CoR opinion adopted today stated: “When we look at the daily rush hour traffic jams in our big cities and the health and environmental damage caused by them it is obvious that things have to change and as soon as possible. Many of the goals set by the European Commission seem highly ambitious but too long-term oriented. Instead the roadmap now has to be strengthened and completed with measurable short-term goals and it is obvious that the Commission’s objectives can only be realised if the appropriate framework and funds are in place.”

CoR members endorsed the most controversial of the European Commission’s proposals: To halve the use of ‘conventionally-fuelled’ cars in urban transport by 2030 phase them out in cities by 2050 and achieve essentially CO2-free logistics in major urban centres by 2030. Furthermore the CoR opinion insists that all “external” costs to transport such as social costs environmental pollution noise and health hazards have to be factored into the price. According to the CoR this has to happen by means of harmonised taxation across all modes of transport. All revenue generated from implementing EU legislation aimed at better integrating these external costs – for instance the ‘Eurovignette’ directive – must be used for developing an integrated and efficient transport system.

Regional and local politicians share the Commission’s “zero deaths” goal on road safety while recognising the many challenges it poses. In this regard the CoR also proposes the provision of access to and interoperability of road traffic offence registers. This should make it possible to take infringements committed in other EU countries into account when applying sanctions. The Committee also welcomes the proposals on sustainable urban mobility plans a key demand of earlier CoR opinions on the issue. However the CoR expressed its disappointment that the Commission’s 2014-2020 financial framework didn’t introduce a new financial instrument for co-financing these mobility plans as requested by the CoR.

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Original Publication Date: Wed 06 Jul 2011