sustainable mobility, transport

Henrik Hololei, DG MOVE Director-General at the European Commission, outlines the importance of learning the lessons of resilience for smart & sustainable mobility

In order to make our transport and mobility system fit for future we need to increase efficiency, capacity, cut emissions and make sure it is a smart and sustainable system that can integrate all transport modes in multimodal way. It is a pre-condition for modern and sustainable European transport and mobility.

At the same time, it is equally essential to build more resilience into our transport system – resilience to deal with unexpected shocks what we have experienced by the COVID-19 pandemic, and then by Russia’s illegal and unprovoked aggression on Ukraine. In times of crisis, a concerted, proportional and timely response at the EU level is necessary.

Sustainable mobility is already in motion

The good news is that our ongoing work to make transport more sustainable and smarter is already reinforcing resilience in many ways. Digitalisation increases efficiency and flexibility, which is invaluable when dealing for example with fluctuating demand. The lessons learned over the last two years are now helping us to reinforce resilience in preparation for the next crisis, whenever it comes, and in whatever form it takes.

That is why our Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy was very timely and important. The success of this strategy depends on a solid and well-functioning Single Market, where competition is the norm and bottlenecks, missing links and unsubstantiated barriers are removed. It is also essential that the EU and its Member States must do their utmost to continue to preserve the integrity and enhance the functioning of the Single European Transport Area.

The three objectives of the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy

The Strategy has three key objectives: making transport sustainable, smart and resilient. The last objective, resilience could not be more relevant in the context of the ongoing Russian aggression in Ukraine.

In making our transport system more resilient we have a variety of policy instruments at our disposal at the EU, national and local levels. These range from research funding to technical standards to EU Directives to investment support. We need to “pull all levers” in order to make the transformation happen.

Making transport more sustainable lies on three pillars. First, we need to make all transport modes more sustainable, secondly, make sustainable alternatives widely available in a multimodal transport system and lastly, put in place the right incentives to drive the transition. Let me be clear – our intention is to reduce emissions not mobility. Greening mobility must be the new licence for the transport sector to grow.

Last year has also been very intense for us, with tabling two major policy packages that drive further sustainable and smart mobility in the EU. The Fit for 55 policy package of July 2021 is a significant package with a dozen policy initiatives. As part of it, the Commission proposes an ambitious revision of the CO2 standards for cars and vans so that by 2035, emissions from all new cars and vans have to be reduced by 100% compared to the requirements in 2021. There is also a review of the CO2 standards for heavy-duty vehicles foreseen for 2022.

This is complemented by our proposal for the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure. Where we proposed a set of binding targets for Member States to ensure that sufficient publicly accessible infrastructure is in place for zero-emission vehicle uptake. Such a push for vehicles and infrastructure is flanked by measures to address user behaviour and incentivise the uptake of such vehicles.

In December last year, we published another major transport policy package, including the proposal for the revision of the TEN-T guidelines and for the revision of the ITS Directive.

Smart mobility is today a key buzzword, and rightly so. We need to take full advantage of smart digital solutions and intelligent transport systems and make connected and automated multi-modality a reality. Cooperative and automated systems have enormous potential to fundamentally improve the functioning of the whole transport system and contribute to our sustainability and safety goals.

Data will pave the way for the implementation of strategies

But the key to getting there is access to data. Therefore, we have proposed a revision of the ITS Directive to increase the deployment and operational use of Intelligent Transport System Services and to create better conditions for the collection and use of critical data.

This year we intend to modernise the legal framework supporting multimodal travel information, booking and ticketing services. This should give us new possibilities for selling ticketing or mobility services, as well as enabling smart and interoperable payment services.

Our intention is to make transport and mobility smarter and more digitalised. One action is the finalisation of the implementing framework on electronic freight transport information, with the aim to have paperless freight transport by 2030. I would also like to see more progress on updating the Single European Sky, which has real potential to reduce CO2 emissions from aviation, but has been stuck in inter-institutional negotiations for too long and turned it into a genuine Digital European Sky.

In ensuring consistency between all these different strands of action and the broader Commission initiatives in this area, Commission has put forward the idea of a common European mobility data space. This should facilitate access, pooling and sharing of data from existing and future transport and mobility databases.

In two and a half years, we have delivered many key actions listed in our Strategy. Nevertheless, we do not intend to rest on laurels and slow down as there is plenty more to achieve. We will be working hard and in close collaboration with our stakeholders to achieve all the goals of the Strategy and to make sure that the European transport and mobility system is fit for the future, sustainable and smart.

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DG Move of the European Commission
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