On 17th June, the European Commission presented a Communication on the future of European Transport Policy. The Communication does not include a detailed programme outlining political measures. Its objective is to initiate a discussion in order to collect proposals for the planned Transport White Paper scheduled for 2010. Statements should be submitted by 30th September 2009.
Trends and challenges
The Commission identifies six central challenges for the transport policy: an aging population, migration and internal mobility, environmental protection, availability of energy resources, urbanisation and globalisation. The first challenge that the Commission recognises in its Communication is the demographic development in Europe. Based on the fact, that in 2060 the expected share of persons over 65 in the overall population will be at 30 % (compared to 17 %) and that the mobility requirements of senior citizens will significantly change, transport policy has to adapt accordingly. Furthermore, the Commission estimates a net migration of 56 million citizens by 2060, who will also create a greater demand in goods and passenger traffic. The greatest challenge of the transport policy, however, exists with respect to environmental protection. These environmental problems do not only sharpen the situation as a result of the scarcity of fossil fuels, but they are also based on the fact that EU citizens are still exposed to a dangerously high level of air and noise pollution. The TERM Report (Transport and Environment Reporting Mechanism) of the European Environment Agency (EEA) established that in 2008 in particular the limits for fine dust (PM10) were in many areas higher than there were in 2005. Traffic is the second greatest cause of fine dust. Another central challenge is the advancing urbanisation. The Commission expects the share of EU citizens living in cities of 72 % in 2007 to rise to 84 % in 2050. The increase in urban areas is simultaneously linked to an increased demand in local and individual transport. This is especially problematic as local public transport accounts for 40 % of CO2 emissions and for 70 % of emitting other pollutants in road transport.

Conclusions of the Commission sometimes not comprehensible
During the press conference, Vice President Antonio Tajani, who is responsible for transport, several times emphasised the importance of full integration and interoperability of individual parts of the transport system. The intention, for example, with regard to passenger transport is to drive forward the integration of air with high-speed rail transport. “Intelligent systems” for road transport and transport management systems for rail and air transport respectively will also play an important role in optimising the utilisation of transport networks. Vice President Tajani regards the internalisation of external costs as an effective means for reducing emissions from transport. In many areas, the prices paid by transport users to not reflect the actually caused social or ecological costs. The lack of cost transparency results in wrong market signals. There are, for example, no economic incentives for using means of transport with lower noise emissions or more safety.

Not at all comprehensible is the opinion of the Commission, legal provisions had resulted in an improvement of labour conditions in road, rail and maritime transport, when in fact only recently the decision was made to increase the possible driving time for bus drivers from 6 to 12 days. In addition, the Directive proposal on “Working time of persons performing mobile road transport activities” intended to exempt self-employed HGV drivers from the area of application. This would enable (pseudo) self-employed drivers to be on the road for over 80 hours/week. Both examples demonstrate that neither labour conditions nor road safety will be increased. Following massive lobbying by the European Transport Workers' Federation, the Austrian vida and by AK EUROPA, the European Parliament has rejected the Working Time Directive for the time being. Due to the new majorities in the European Parliament, however, it is by no means certain, that the exception provided for by the Commission for (pseudo) self-employed drivers will not be accepted after all.

Further information:

Press Realease of the Commission

Commission Comminication: A sustainable future for transport