The Commission is thinking about the future of transport. In a so-called “Stakeholder” Conference, the Commission, together with a number of invited speakers coming from various interest groups, discussed the greatest challenges for the next four decades.
To begin the discussions, Transport Commissioner Antonio Tajani, together with his Director-General Matthias Ruete and Deputy Director-General Karl-Friedrich Falkenberg presented their visions: transport should be efficient and independent of fossil fuels. A modern infrastructure would be necessary and the Trans-European Networks should be expanded, declared the Commission Representatives. The aging of the population had to be taken into account and an intelligent migration policy was needed. In addition, Tajani had a somewhat surprising idea: the Trans-European Networks should not only be expanded in the direction of Eastern Europe but also towards Africa as this could make a contribution to greater stability in Africa.

Ideas and challenges concerning municipal transport, passenger and freight transport were outlined in individual workshops.

Urban transport:
The following trends had to be taken into account: an aging population, on whose needs transportation had to increasingly focus, growing freight transport in towns and cities, capacity problems with respect to public transport, improved consideration of environmental issues and from time to time financing difficulties. The speaker of the workshop offered several solution possibilities: public transport should be strengthened. Apart from that, travel information systems with new information technologies (Intelligent Transport Systems) should be provided. Vehicle technologies should be developed further (hybrid technology, electric vehicles). The existing infrastructure, in particular with regard to rail transport, should be improved. The EU should drive forward the Action Plan for municipal mobility; the principle of subsidiarity for the regions should continue to apply. Subsidies would be provided via EU Structural Funds.

Passenger transport:
The representatives of this workshop came out in favour of setting up traffic junctions, which would enable a better linkage of long-distance traffic with regional traffic. A uniform solution for all, however, would hardly be possible. Competition in passenger transport had to be fair; the infrastructure should be provided by public authorities, which in turn should impose charges. Internet and mobile phones should be increasingly used for ticketing. With regard to shipping, a mandatory scrapping of 20 or 30-year old vessels should be considered. New vessels would be significantly more efficient and environmentally friendly. Passenger feedback had to play a central role.

Freight transport:
A new infrastructure should reduce congestion costs and improve efficiency, whereby the global market had also to be taken into account more strongly. It would turn out, however, that the EU had a leading position in logistics. DB-Schenker pointed out that they had developed own corridors for their business transactions and would therefore be able to meet their customers’ requirements more efficiently. Shipping traffic would be strongly represented - the EU Fleet accounted for around 41 % of all fleets worldwide. The representative of International Road Transport Union (IRU) commented that 85 % of all traffic would cover a distance of less than 150 km. If it was down to IRU, there would be no alternative to road transport. Furthermore, road traffic, based on tonnages transported, would be the cleanest means of transport according to IRU. In particular with regard to freight transport, the workshop concluded that the rail infrastructure had to be expanded and that bottlenecks had to be removed. As it turned out, however, money for this kind of investment was often scarce.

ETF: Social concerns are hardly taken into account
In the final round of the Conference, it was the turn of Eduardo Chagas of the European Transport Workers' Federation to have his say. He was appalled that the Conference had not addressed any social concerns. Bad training and working conditions and the lack of consideration concerning driving and resting times were reasons for many traffic accidents. This in turn, said Chagas, had a negative impact on the economy. Both a consequent social policy and a social dialogue had to be driven forward. Currently, the EU would rely on competition, which would result in lower wages and a worsening of working conditions. This competition-orientated thinking would go so far that companies would relocate to countries with lower safety standards to save costs.

Chagas demands investments in the training of young people; all transport workers had to be paid; working conditions had to be adhered to. Social security legislation must also apply to the self-employed. There should not be any discrimination - women should have the same career prospects as men. Social partners should be contacted with respect to all planned changes in the transport sector. Apart from that, the Commission should set up a social and environmental observatory to create a sensitisation for workers’ and environmental concerns.

Further information:

Information about the Commission Conference