Just imagine getting on a train in Brussels and getting off in Porto or in Helsinki, without having to change anywhere. Imagine that this would be a more affordable option than the plane and that it would save you much more time than if you took the car! Well, this is my vision for an EU Single Market transport area in 2050 or even earlier. The EU has given citizens freedom of movement – but now they need the means of transport to move quickly and easily throughout Europe. In the midst of the eurocrisis summit discussions, we met at the EESC for our plenary this week and dared to think beyond the crisis. One of the issues we dealt with was envisaging a functional, sustainable model for European mobility beyond 2020 and up to 2050.
During our plenary, we made recommendations to Commissioner Kallas, responsible for transport, with regard to the EU 2050 transport plan just launched by the European Commission. We said that we need to start reforming the transport system to make it greener on a cleaner planet. This is why the EESC agrees with the 2050 vision goal of a 60% greenhouse gas reduction in the transport sector as put forward in the Commission's White Paper "Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area".
We also recognised the vital role of transport as a driver for competitiveness and prosperity. This vital role has become even clearer following the recent bold move by the Commission President to launch the Connecting Europe Facility which is, as Mr Barroso puts it, a "perfect demonstration of the value added that Europe can provide."
However, we are concerned about several aspects, including the gap between the ambitious objectives, the ways in which they are to be attained and the financing required for achieving them; the social dimension of the roadmap - the Committee stresses the importance of social dialogue in the transport sector. We are naturally aware that some of the proposals made in the White Paper might suffer from a lack of political and public consensus. As the Roadmap rightly states, a higher market share of the alternative modes requires major infrastructure investments, including investment in road transport infrastructure.
It is helpful that the urban transport issues affecting both passengers and freight are highlighted in the Roadmap, as more and more people in Europe are living in urban areas. The Roadmap notes that urban transport is outside the EU's legislative mandate and that this limits the options for policy measures. However, I think we could have more common rules, as is the case for car traffic. At least as far as freight is concerned, it might be worth considering the extent to which urban last mile transport is linked to and is relevant for the free movement of goods within the internal market.
Despite the Roadmap's many positive aspects, the document has overlooked the practical aspects of disability. Key concepts such as sustainability and safety are discussed without making any reference to the issue of accessibility. The Committee believes that in order to achieve better accessibility, it is essential for all stakeholders to work together to produce standards that are fully compatible across all modes of transport to create genuinely barrier-free transport.
I am sure that all these issues and others will be tackled in our upcoming conference jointly organised with the European Commission on 5 December on "The viewpoint of civil society on the Transport White Paper". We will have a "citizens' panel" made up of 20 different civil society representatives who will contribute their expertise on developing future transport in Europe. I am happy that Commission Vice-president Kallas will again be with us to listen to what we have to say and to work with us.
There probably will be no soiluton for Europe\'s present problems without having a vision about the global future. And this vision should be honest otherwise it will not be shared by the people. I often feel that the major problems are not even addressed and the goals to be achieved are far from reality.Yes, I cannot agree more: keeping different perspectives at the same time should be essential on each scale.There are huge regional differences also within Europe that should be kept in mind. Health standards that are included inherently in Western life may lead to e.g. the disappearence of traditional cattle raising in the Eastern part (e.g. Transylvania, Mountain region) even without any serious intention or even consideration. Only those processes should be regulated on an all European level whose possible major consequences had been properly studied and can be forseen on each: local, regional, global scale. This can be a sort of generalization of the precautionary principle to social, political issues. Of course, being in a serious crisis asks for prompt actions, short term soilutons. Here it would be important to avoid those soilutons that makes more difficult to get nearer to a sustainable society in the long run.