The EU has stated that the recovery from the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic should be used to accelerate the decarbonisation and modernisation of the entire transport and mobility system, limiting its negative impact on the environment and improving the safety and health of our citizens.
The twin green and digital transitions should reshape the sector, redraw connectivity and re-energise the economy. The Commission acknowledges that this transformation – which needs to be socially fair and just – will not come easily, and will require the full dedication and support from all transport actors, as well as a substantial increase of growth-generating investment from public and private sectors.
The sustainable European transport system that the EU strives for must be smart, flexible and adaptable to ever-changing transport patterns and needs, based on cutting-edge technological advancements to provide seamless, safe and secure connectivity to all European citizens. Transport should showcase European ingenuity and industriousness – standing at the vanguard of research, innovation and entrepreneurship, and driving the twin transitions.
The Commission is putting forward a comprehensive set of measures listed in this strategy’s action plan to put the EU on the path to creating the sustainable, smart and resilient mobility system of the future and bringing about the fundamental changes needed to achieve the objectives of the European Green Deal. These efforts can only be successful if there is sufficient commitment by all those concerned, namely European institutions, Member States and their authorities at all levels of government, stakeholders, businesses as well as citizens.
Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy – putting European transport on track for the future
Mobility and transport matters to us all. From daily commuting to work, visiting family and friends, tourism, to the proper functioning of global supply chains for the goods in our shops and for our industrial production, mobility is an enabler of our economic and social life. Free movement of people and goods across its internal borders is a fundamental freedom of the European Union (EU) and its single market. Travelling in the EU has led to greater cohesion and a strengthened European identity. As the second-largest area of expenditure for European households, the transport sector contributes 5% to European GDP and directly employs around 10 million workers.
Whilst mobility brings many benefits for its users, it is not without costs for our society. These include greenhouse gas emissions, air, noise and water pollution, but also accidents and road crashes, congestion, and biodiversity loss – all of which affect our health and wellbeing. Past efforts and policy measures have not yet sufficiently addressed these costs. The transport sector’s greenhouse gas emissions have increased over time and represent now as much as a quarter of the EU’s total.
By far, the most serious challenge facing the transport sector is to significantly reduce its emissions and become more sustainable. At the same time, this transformation offers great opportunities for better quality of life, and for European industry across the value chains to modernise, create high-quality jobs, develop new products and services, strengthen competitiveness and pursue global leadership as other markets are moving fast towards zero-emission mobility.
Given its high proportion of total EU greenhouse gas emissions, the EU’s goal of at least -55% greenhouse gas reduction target by 2030 and of climate neutrality by 2050 will be reached, only by introducing more ambitious policies to reduce transport’s reliance on fossil fuels without delay and in synergy with zero pollution efforts. The success of the European Green Deal depends on our ability to make the transport system as a whole sustainable.
The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on mobility. In the context of the recovery from this severe crisis, public support should help mobility “build back better” and leap forward to a sustainable and smarter future.
Greening mobility must be the new licence for the transport sector to grow. Mobility in Europe should be based on an efficient and interconnected multimodal transport system, for both passengers and freight, enhanced by an affordable high-speed rail network, by abundant recharging and refuelling infrastructure for zero-emission vehicles 3 and supply of renewable and low-carbon fuels, by cleaner and more active mobility in greener cities that contribute to the good health and wellbeing of their citizens.
Digitalisation will become an indispensable driver for the modernisation of the entire system, making it seamless and more efficient. Europe also needs to use digitalisation and automation to further increase the levels of safety, security, reliability, and comfort, thereby maintaining the EU’s leadership in transport equipment manufacturing and services and improving our global competitiveness through efficient and resilient logistics chains.
This evolution should leave nobody behind: it is crucial that mobility is available and affordable for all, that rural and remote regions are better connected accessible for persons with reduced mobility and persons with disabilities, and that the sector offers good social conditions, reskilling opportunities, and provides attractive jobs. The European Pillar of Social Rights is the European compass to make sure that the green and digital transitions are socially fair and just.
Overall, we must shift the existing paradigm of incremental change to fundamental transformation. . The scenarios underpinning the strategy, common to those supporting the 2030 climate target plan, demonstrate that, with the right level of ambition, the combination of policy measures set out in this strategy can deliver a 90% reduction in the transport sector’s emissions by 2050.
Various milestones are set out to show the European transport system’s path towards achieving our objectives of a sustainable, smart and resilient mobility, thereby indicating the necessary ambition for our future policies, such as:
- at least 30 million zero-emission vehicles will be in operation on European roads.
- 100 European cities will be climate neutral.
- high-speed rail traffic will double.
- scheduled collective travel of under 500 km should be carbon neutral within the EU.
- automated mobility will be deployed at large scale.
- zero-emission vessels will become ready for market
- zero-emission large aircraft will become ready for market.
- nearly all cars, vans, buses as well as new heavy-duty vehicles will be zero-emission.
- rail freight traffic will double.
- high-speed rail traffic will triple.
- the multimodal Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) equipped for sustainable and smart transport with high speed connectivity will be operational for the comprehensive network.
The Framework, which is a part in the Package for Efficient and Green Mobility, can be accessed here: https://transport.ec.europa.eu/news/efficient-and-green-mobility-2021-1…