The Council of the European Union welcomed the Commission’s Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy, first presented last December.
“With these conclusions, we, the Transport Ministers, are sending a clear political message regarding our commitment to a more sustainable, inclusive, intelligent, safe and resilient transport system,” commented Pedro Nuno Santos, Portuguese Minister for Infrastructure and Housing, President of the Council. “This transformation is essential and will be a major contribution to meeting the objective of a climate-neutral EU by 2050, in line with the Paris Agreement.”
The Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy aims 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.
By 2030, at least 30 million zero-emission cars will be in operation on European roads and 100 European cities will be climate neutral. By 2035, zero-emission large aircraft will be market-ready. And by 205, nearly all cars, vans, buses, as well as new heavy-duty vehicles, will be zero-emission.
The Council is supporting the Commission’s vision to make European transport more sustainable, inclusive, intelligent, safe and resilient. However, in parallel with a shift to more sustainable modes, all transport modes should contribute to a substantial reduction in the transport sector’s emissions by 2030 and by 2050 in a way that preserves their competitiveness and takes into account their emission reduction potential. Therefore the Commission is required to assess, in line with the Better Regulation requirements, how each measure envisaged in the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy will ensure that transport modes can best contribute to the achievement of the above-mentioned 2030 and 2050 targets, including by conducting an in-depth examination of the environmental, economic and social impact at Member State level.
Indeed efforts to achieve the emission reduction targets should be delivered collectively in the most cost-effective manner possible, with all Member States participating in those efforts, taking into account considerations of fairness and solidarity and Member States’ different starting points and specific national circumstances, including those of island Member States and islands while leaving no one behind.
The Council is also of the view that an ambitious but balanced shift towards zero-emission vehicles requires an update of the EU legislative framework, in line with the principles of a functioning internal market, to facilitate the placing on the market and the take-up of alternative propulsion systems. In this context, low-emission and low-carbon or renewable transport fuels may provide effective solutions for the transition.
The Council is also stressing that the polluter pays and user pays principles should be reflected in transport policy measures for and across all modes of transport.
Digitalisation and the promotion of innovation in green technologies are key driving forces behind the long-term global competitiveness of the EU transport system, as they can improve sustainability, including by reducing pollution, bring greater efficiency, safety, security and comfort and promote an integrated multimodal transport ecosystem. Thus, the Council is calling for the approach identified in the Passau Declaration of 29 October 2020, Smart Deal for Mobility – Shaping the mobility of the future with digitalisation – sustainable, safe, secure and efficient to be taken up when transport and mobility policies are developed.
Finally, completing the Single European Transport Area remains a cornerstone of EU transport policy: a precondition for realising that goal and for achieving sustainable and smart transport and mobility is to have resilient, up-to-date, high-performance multimodal transport infrastructure to help connect and integrate all the Member States and regions of the EU, including remote, outermost, insular, peripheral, mountainous and sparsely populated ones, with a view to improving the free movement of persons, goods and services.
While becoming more sustainable, digitalised and automated, the transport and mobility system should remain user- and human-centric. EU transport policy should be inclusive, promoting availability and accessibility to all, including to vulnerable groups such as the elderly, persons with reduced mobility and persons with disabilities, as well as to children. Affordability should be ensured so as to combat transport poverty and transport safety should be stepped up, including inactive mobility.