Brussels, 12 May 2009
What is the European Commission doing to foster the mobility of its staff?
Under its mobility policy, the European Commission has brought in a range of measures on travel by staff in connection with work. The policy lays down a mobility plan for journeys between the Commission’s various sites (including between Brussels and Luxembourg) and buildings, as well as between home, welfare facilities (crèches), schools, and the workplace.
In Brussels, the plan is implemented by the Transport and Mobility unit, which manages relations with the transport operators, various associations, and cyclist groups, and provides information and promotes awareness among staff. A similar unit operates in Luxembourg.
What developments have there been in the policy in the last few years?
Initially, the main effort focused on work-related journeys between the Commission’s various buildings, centred on the following four main areas:
(1) Use of bicycles
Service bicycles for travel between offices have been a marked success and the Commission now has twice as many bicycles as cars. In 2008 the bicycles were used nearly 26 000 times, a 13% increase over 2007, with each bike being used an average of 120 times a year, while in Commission car parks, the number of spaces for bikes has been increased to 2900. New Commission buildings are now all equipped with changing rooms and showers. And quite a number of staff have taken up cycling using the service bikes and have then gone on to buy their own.
(2) Public transport
Since 1997 there has been an arrangement between the Commission and the Brussels public transport company STIB/MIVB on the Eurobus scheme, with bus routes 21 and 22 serving most of the buildings occupied by the Commission and the other European institutions in Brussels. The European Parliament joined the Eurobus scheme at the end of 2006. The agreement was extended on 1 June 2007 until 2009 and a further extension is close to being agreed.
For work-related travel between sites not on the Eurobus routes, Commission staff can obtain one-way tickets that are valid across the entire STIB/MIVB network.
All these complementary facilities are helping to promote public transport and have had an impact on the travelling habits of staff, especially those living close to the No 21 and 22 bus routes.
(3) Purchase of clean cars
When renewing its car fleet, the Commission pays special attention to environmental criteria: cars are small-engined diesel vehicles, equipped with particle filters as these become available on the market. The Commission monitors technological advances by manufacturers and its fleet already contains hybrid, biofuel and blue or dynamic efficiency vehicles. As a result, CO2 emissions from the Commission’s car fleet fell by 21% between 2004 and 2008 (from 265 g/km to 211 g/km), with a target of a 26% reduction by 2012.
(4) Payment of part of the cost of public transport season tickets by the Commission
In 2006 the Commission first envisaged paying 50% of the cost of STIB, SNCB, TEC or De Lijn season tickets if the necessary funds could be provided in the budget. As discussions with the budgetary authority currently stand, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee have been granted the funding required, but not the Commission. In September 2008 the Secretaries-General of all EU the institutions agreed on a common approach whereby they would seek funding in the 2010 budget for 50% of their staff’s season tickets.
Since April 2007 the Commission has offered staff the possibility of teleworking, giving them the option of working from home, so saving travelling time and transport costs. Regular teleworkers now number more than 1000.
What are the main changes in the modes of transport used by staff?
Surveys of all Commission staff in Brussels in 2004 and 2008 confirm a gradual shift in the use of the different modes of transport for travel between home and work. Between 1998 and 2004, private vehicle use dropped from 50% to 29%, while use of public transport rose from 32% to 50%, and walking and cycling rose from 17% to 18%. Car-pooling remained marginal at 1%. Almost a third of users said that the facilities available to staff had prompted a change in their habits.
What targets does the new mobility plan set for use of the various modes of transport?
The objectives of the Mobility Plan 2006- 2009 were:
These targets have been exceeded. The new Plan for 2010-2012 will be adopted in the course of the year.
What role can the public transport operators play?
There has to be close cooperation with the public transport operators so that the necessary supporting measures can be taken to underpin the effort by employers and their staff and bring about the switch from private cars to public transport. This involves improving all aspects of the transport services on offer, in particular comfort, quality, and frequency, extending operating hours, especially in the evenings, and ensuring greater security and sufficient flexibility, particularly in outer suburban areas, where travel needs are more difficult to identify and satisfy.
How was the Commission’s mobility plan prepared?
The plan is based on the work of a joint working party on mobility that met in 2004, involving DG TREN, DG ADMIN, and OIB, together with staff representatives, and takes into account the staff mobility surveys conducted in 1998 and 2004. It also fits in with the new legislative framework for Brussels, which now requires any organisation with over 200 staff to adopt an employee mobility plan. The new urban planning policy of the Brussels authorities, which changes the ratio of office area to parking space required in order to obtain a building permit, has also had an impact on the Commission’s mobility policy, since it will reduce the area available for parking in new or renovated buildings (Brussels-Capital Region, Circular No 18 of 12 December 2002 on limits on parking spaces). The mobility plan also takes account of the Community ‘eco-management and audit scheme’ (EMAS).
 See the definition in Article 19 of the Order of 25 March 1999 on evaluating ambient air quality, published in the Moniteur belge of 24 June 1999.
 See Article 19 of the Order of 25 March 1999 on evaluating and improving ambient air quality, published in the Moniteur Belge of 24 June 1999.