18 March 2010
EESC calls for a green and competitive transport sector
European transport policy needs to face the challenge of maintaining the sector's competitiveness whilst curbing emissions of greenhouse gases. This can be achieved through steps having a rapid, direct and tangible effect on costs, argues the opinion adopted by the EESC plenary on 17 March 2010.
The opinion by Mr Stéphane Buffetaut (Employers' Group, France) on European transport policy in the framework of the Europe 2020 and the Sustainable Development Strategies stresses that competitive, reliable, free-flowing and profitable transport is a condition for European economic prosperity. "However, the transport sector as a whole has been hard hit by the current economic crisis and is aware that it lacks sustainability", said the rapporteur.
The main challenges to be faced and the issues to be integrated into a sustainable transport policy are growing urbanisation and the demand for comfort in daily journeys; the preservation of public health; maintaining a trading economy that incorporates the need to reduce emissions; getting economic stakeholders and the general public on board in implementing new policies and types of behaviour in the field of mobility.
A future European transport policy must pursue four goals: the promotion of low-carbon transport modes, energy efficiency, security and independence of supply and the reduction of traffic congestion. "The implementation of concrete measures by both local authorities and the Member States is needed. The EU can act by passing legislation, channelling money from the cohesion or regional development funds, setting new TEN-T guidelines and intervening through the European Investment Bank", pointed out the rapporteur.
The EESC opinion suggests a number of simple steps which would have a rapid, direct and tangible effect on costs (e.g. choosing the greenest option, redeveloping abandoned railways, improving intermodal transport facilities where they exist), alongside a set of bolder political decisions involving greater financial outlay.
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