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E-mobility, an opportunity for CEE: regional associations sign joint declaration

An 8-point declaration entitled E-Mobility: An OPPORTUNITY for Central & Eastern Europe (CEE): A Call to Action was signed by leaders of the Czech E-mobility Platform, the Polish Alternative Fuels Association and the Slovak EV Association on Monday (17 October), concluding a conference of the same name.

The Call to Action outlines what countries of CEE and the EU must do in order to seize the opportunities presented by the e-mobility transition and the clean industrial revolution underway. The conference was especially timely with the Czech Presidency of the EU Council and against the backdrop of the ongoing war in Ukraine, a related energy crisis and the worsening climate crisis.

According to a press statement, the transition to e-mobility is happening more slowly in CEE than in other parts of Europe and even faces resistance from some quarters. Long-term investment decisions and innovation cycles mean no more new generations of ICE engines will be produced in the future. The countries of CEE must not remain a dwindling island of ICE production but must seize the opportunity presented by the transition to e-mobility or risk losing out and being left behind.

“In Western and Northern Europe as well as in other parts of the world, e-mobility is developing dynamically thanks to the very active support of the government,” said Lukáš Folbrecht, Secretary of the Czech Electric Mobility Platform. “Not only gigafactories for the production of batteries but also the entire supply chain is being transformed, new industries and jobs are being created. The opportunities that e-mobility offers must be actively seized. With a joint declaration, we call on the political sphere, governments, the leadership of regions, cities and municipalities and other institutions to have more courage and implement the steps needed to transform industry and transport.”

“In Slovakia, we are updating our regulations in energy, building and more to provide the right regulatory framework for e-mobility and new industry to grow and we’re using funds from the Recovery and Reinvestment Facility to support the rollout of charging infrastructure,” added Patrik Križanský, Director of the Slovak EV Association. “It’s moving, but slowly and the EU can help further by helping bring EVs to market via the CO2 standards regulation, fleet electrification proposal and setting high early targets in AFIR for charging infrastructure to help people overcome their fear of where will I charge?

“Twenty per cent of Europe’s entire heavy-duty vehicle (HDV) fleet is Polish, up to 30 per cent of all mass goods in Europe are transported by Polish operators and CEE is the main transit area in terms of the TEN-T which will host the heavy-duty transport,” commented Aleks Rajch, Deputy Director of the Polish Alternative Fuels Association. “Electrification of the HDV fleet – which has already started – is therefore especially important for CEE. The high-power needs of the HDV fleet bring up the topic of grid capacity. The Polish national grid is inflexible and overburdened, problems also shared by other CEE countries. We need to address this urgently by updating DSO regulations, improving connection times, and opening up more suitable locations. Working together with our neighbouring countries via our joint declaration to resolve these twin issues will significantly accelerate the electrification of road transport for the entire EU and support the efficient implementation of AFIR – hopefully in as ambitious a way as possible.”

Taken together, the 3 regional associations represent 253 member companies, research institutes and organisations working actively across the e-mobility value chain in their respective markets.

The signed Declaration highlights two interrelated opportunities. First, to make zero emission transport accessible to the people of CEE and thereby improve air quality and quality of life for people in CEE. Second, to actively join the industrial revolution and the emergence of new technologies, industries and careers that electrification is bringing.

To seize these twin opportunities, CEE countries need to take some important steps. Among those, educate the public, media and others about the benefits of the e-mobility transition and address false rumours and fear-mongering; focus industrial policy on new technologies, industries and workforce needs to attract investors; support local companies active in the energy transition, motivate others to follow them; ensure relevant laws, such as electricity market design, building codes, fire safety standards, land use and access regulations and more are up-to-date and fit for the purpose of the e-mobility transition; and use instruments like the Just Transition Fund to support those who will lose jobs in the transition and help prepare them for new ones.

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