As our societies become ever more mobile, EU transport policy focuses on specific issues that affect all EU countries, like (road and air) traffic congestion, oil dependency, and greenhouse gas emissions. It is pursuing a strategy (and providing funding) to bring transport infrastructure up to a certain standard all across the EU, as well as seeking ways to help the European transport sector to compete on the fast-developing global market.
As our societies become ever more mobile, EU policy seeks to help our transport systems meet the major challenges they are facing:
New high-speed lines across the EU offer European citizens a safe, fast, comfortable and ecological mode of transport.
Over the last 20 years, EU policy has helped the European transport sector achieve many advances:
Road – Trucks can now operate in countries other than their own, and so no longer return empty on international journeys. This new flexibility encourages competition, drives up the quality of both freight and passenger services, brings down costs and makes journeys more efficient thereby cutting pollution. Common technical standards have also improved safety levels.
Air – Flying is becoming easier and cheaper, with new airlines, more routes and hundreds of services connecting very numerous airports across Europe. The EU's Single European Sky will help that trend continue. "Open skies" agreements allow any EU airline to fly from any EU airport to any city into other countries. Open skies agreements have also been signed with the US, the Western Balkans, Morocco, Jordan, Georgia and Moldova – and more are on the way.
Rail – Any licensed rail company can now offer their services throughout the EU. The high-speed rail network has grown enormously in recent years, saving passengers time and money. Further improvements are on the way.
Maritime – 75% of Europe’s trade with other countries and 40% of freight within Europe is moved by sea, and some 400 million passengers use European waterways every year. Opening up the maritime market has allowed shipping companies to work and move freely in other countries.
The interests of travellers in the EU are protected by wide range of passenger rights.
London was the first capital to charge motorists entering its central district.
The EU supports research and effective deployment of new green transport technologies. New EU legislation will lower limits for carbon emissions from cars and promote better fuel efficiency and the use of alternative fuels.
The transport infrastructure section of the EU's Trans-European Networks policy aims at creating a multimodal "core network" linking major cities and bringing together the western and eastern parts of the EU. The EU's general approach to transport infrastructure also seeks to support other objectives, such as social cohesion and limiting climate change.
Transport infrastructure is funded by the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), which has a budget of up to €50 billion for 2014-2020, which will support the roll-out of high-performing, sustainable and joined-up trans-European networks in the fields of transport, energy, and broadband & digital services.
A new approach to transport charges is needed, alongside public funding, to create a fair financial environment, reflecting the "polluter pays" and "user pays" principle.