The EU aims to ensure clean, competitive and connected mobility integrating all means of transport by 2025. In an opinion drafted by the TEN section and adopted at the EESC October plenary session, the Committee urges the Commission to further improve the regulatory framework in order to establish an efficient Single European Transport Area.
Rapid progress should be made towards establishing a clean, competitive and connected mobility system integrating all means of transport across the European Union by 2025. This is the message from the EESC opinion adopted at the 529th plenary session on 18 October 2017 and drafted by rapporteur Ulrich Samm (Employers' Group) and co-rapporteur Brian Curtis (Workers' Group) of the Section for Transport, Energy, Infrastructure and the Information Society (TEN).
The EESC broadly supports the mobility agenda set out in the European Commission communication Europe on the move: An agenda for a socially fair transition towards clean, competitive and connected mobility for all and welcomes the attempt to resolve some outstanding single market transport issues while taking account of human and labour rights as well as environmental aspects.
However, with a view to providing the Single European Transport Area with an appropriate regulatory framework, the EESC urges the European Commission to further refine the proposed legislative changes, in particular regarding access to professions, market access (including cabotage) and working conditions, as they do not provide effective answers in these areas.
"Transport will be revolutionised by digitalisation providing better quality, convenience, flexibility, affordability and safety in services for consumers and businesses," noted rapporteur Ulrich Samm, adding: "Automatic driving now has the potential to be a game-changer that, as well as providing new services and business opportunities, could markedly improve the active safety of vehicles and significantly reduce fatalities." With this in mind, the EESC encourages the Commission to further pursue the "Vision Zero by 2050" project.
In addition, the EESC strongly supports the Commission's proposal to overcome the poor interoperability between the various existing electronic road toll systems in the Member States and implement a common interoperability framework.
Finally, electric vehicles can help to reduce air pollution locally, while a clean electricity generation policy is essential to reach the EU's global GHG objectives. The EESC notes the discrepancy between the anticipated emissions reduction (13%) in road transport under this package and the 18-19% that the transport sector would need to contribute towards achieving the 2030 climate and energy targets. It therefore emphasises that the production of clean electricity is a vital precondition for successfully introducing electric vehicles into the mass market.
The EESC also recognises that rebuilding trust in the automotive industry and the regulatory system by means of realistic emission standards and adequate test procedures is vital. The EESC calls for an independent EU-wide vehicle emissions testing oversight authority and regrets that the proposal by the Commission in this respect was dropped earlier in 2017.
Making a general point, co-rapporteur Brian Curtis commented: "The challenges that road freight offers to clean mobility remain substantial but solutions are at hand. A modal shift in transport combined with extending the planned Zero Emission Vehicle mandate to include trucks and buses and reforming the Energy Tax Directive to increase Europe’s minimum diesel taxes will have a major, positive impact."