Policy tool for urban mobility to be launched in April
The Urban Transport Roadmap policy tool, commissioned by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE), is designed to help cities deliver on the goals of their Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs). The tool will be presented at the 3rd European Conference on SUMPs in Bremen (Germany) on 13 April 2016. The tool focuses on transport scenarios and roadmaps for implementation that are feasible and practical and will be available for participants at the conference to try themselves.
European Parliament green lights negotiation on new ports regulation
In a vote at plenary in Strasbourg the European Parliament has voted in favour of allowing Knut Fleckenstein MEP (Rapporteur on the Parliament’s transport committee) to open negotiations with the European Council on a European Commission proposal for a new regulation on port transparency and commercialisation of services. The proposed regulation tackles issues such as improving transparency and easier access to the port services market, financial transparency for port authorities and introduces new mechanisms to handle disputes and consultations between port stakeholders. In a related move the Commission has also published the first draft of a new regulation aimed at modifying the General Block Exemption Regulation to widen its scope and include ‘non-problematic’ investment aid to port as being exempt from State Aid rules. A Commission consultation on this has been published as is available here.
New consultation seeks views on research into transport technologies
The European Commission has launched a consultation on the development of a comprehensive, integrated Research, Innovation, and Competitiveness Strategy for the Energy Union. In the context of European Commission’s recently published Energy Union Strategy the Commission is now seeking stakeholder views on how to support breakthrough low-carbon technologies under the 5th pillar, “Research & Innovation” of the Energy Union Strategy. In combination with an updated Strategic Energy Technology Plan and the Strategic Transport Technology Plan existing research and innovation agenda in the transport area of the Commission’s policy-making, the Commission is looking to further develop and mutually reinforce positive outcomes achieved through research in energy and transport areas across Europe. A roadmap outlining how the Commission proposes to approach this has been drawn up and the European Partnership welcomes the views of its partners in relation to this.
European Commission answers East of England MEP question on TEN-T and Felixstowe
The EU Transport Commissioner Bulc, has provided a written answer to a question on TEN-T and the eligibility of the Port of Felixstowe for future rounds of funding under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) submitted by Richard Howitt MEP. In her answer the Commissioner said that “the Port of Felixtowe is an integral part of the TEN-T North Sea-Mediterranean Core Network Corridor” as provided for in the CEF regulation. Ms Bulc went on to say that “the Port of Felixtowe is a cross-border section if it is successfully demonstrated that it ensures continuity of a project of common interest between the nearest urban nodes on both sides of the border of two Member States indicating that the Port should continue to be seen as a cross-border section of the TEN-T network in proposals for future CEF funding.
European Council gives green light on new vehicle emission tests
The European Council on 12 February has adopted the 2nd package of rules introducing Real Driving Emission (RDE) tests intended to more accurately measure pollutant emissions from cars and other light vehicles. The new tests will tightens the margins for error on exceeding limits of emissions of NOx and other harmful pollutants, prevent test vehicles being driven in a biased manner, ban so-called ‘defeat devices’ and require more information on them from car manufacturers. Following this Council decision, the Commission may now adopt the regulation with two further packages of legislation expected to complete the legal framework of real driving emission tests.
European Commission plays down CEF project hopes as demand exceeds supply
The European Commission’s Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) has reported receiving funding applications worth almost €13 billion for its second Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) call for proposals. The call is worth only €7.6 billion however leaving it certain that any of the 427 project proposals will not receive funding. In response the Commission has called for project promoters to look to its Investment Plan and investigate publishing the project on the European Investment Project Portal.
Research on SUMPs presented by ENDURANCE project
The results from the qualitative part of the ENDURANCE research project, funded by the former Intelligent Energy Europe Programme, were presented at a workshop in Brussels last Thursday. At the event DG MOVE, the Transport Directorate-General, outlined how Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs) are becoming an increasingly significant part of the European Commission’s policy-making in the area of urban transport. Their inclusion in the Urban Mobility Package produced in 2013 was highlighted alongside other initiatives such as CIVITAS. The use of Local Transport Plans (LTPs) in the UK was examined with the conclusion that at a time when the EU is modelling its promotion of SUMPs on the UK’s transport planning activities, the UK is moving away from this by devolution of such planning to a local level without central government support.
TRAN Committee supports latest Council position on a regulator for railways
A legislative proposal for a regulator on railways across Europe has made steps forward after members of the European Parliament’s Transport (TRAN) committee supported a report for the legislation’s 2nd reading in the European Parliament. The report examined the European Council’s position on the rail package following inter-institutional agreements between each institution ahead of the European Parliament adopting its final position in April 2016. The proposals concern promoting use of the ERTMS system, completing the single European Rail Area and reducing costs associated with its completion. The Committee rapporteurs’ position was to support the European Council’s positions without amendment and it is likely the report will go to a TRAN committee vote on 15 March with a full vote on a second reading of the legislation at Plenary in April 2016.
Directive proposed on recognizing professional qualifications in inland navigation
The European Commission has put forward a new proposal intended to enhance the mobility of inland navigation crew members and provide new career prospects. The directive would include aims to increase the talent pool available to industry in inland waterways transportation by streamlining, modernizing and extending the recognition of skilled workers in inland navigation further across Europe. The existing EU legislative framework is limited to the mutual recognition of boatmasters operating on inland waterways outside the Rhine river whereas the proposal would extend the scope of recognition of professional qualifications beyond the level of boatmasters to all crew involved in the operation of vessels, including on the Rhine River. The Commission expects to adopt the Directive in mid-2017.
MEPs highlight concerns about social dumping in the transport sector
Jens Nilsson MEP has submitted his report to colleagues in the TRAN Committee of the European Parliament concerning the Committee’s input into an Own-Initiative report being produced by the Employment (EMPL) on the issue of ‘social dumping’ in the EU. He emphasised the importance of monitoring and enforcing compliance with existing rules at a recent Committee meeting saying that unattractive working conditions could make it difficult for the transport sector to recruit staff in future. With respect to the current Road Package of legislation going through the EU institutions Mr Nilsson highlighted that this should address the question of cabotage, in particular regarding the definition of a ‘home base’ for air crew members. His suggestion of having an EU Road Agency to promote social standards in the road sector was contested however with the issue of excessive costs on logistics operators cited as a major concern. The report will be voted on by the TRAN Committee on 7 April with a further vote on this submission to the EMPL’s INI expected on 19 April.
TEN-T bids questioned by East of England MEP
The European Commission has been questioned by Richard Howitt MEP, a representative of the East of England, on the region’s recent unsuccessful bid for funding from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). The question, available for download, outlines that the Port of Felixstowe, the connecting rail freight line to the Midlands and the A14 dual carriageway in the East of England are all part of the TEN-T core network and the North Sea – Mediterranean Core Network Corridor (CNC) however did not secure funding to upgrade access to this vital route. The project was in-part unsuccessful due to a perceived ‘lower European added value’ of the project despite its role in connecting Europe with the UK and the rest of the world. The Commission is being asked to confirm that the Port of Felixstowe and its hinterland connections constitute a cross-border connection within the TEN-T network and to provide an explanation as to how European added value in CEF funding calls is calculated by both external evaluators and the final selection committee. The European Partnership is also in close contact with the Commissioner’s office of DG MOVE at the European Commission through representation via its European and International Panel and will continue to support the panel in securing future CEF funding for the East of England region.
Joint roadmap on research, innovation and competitiveness launched
The European Commission has launched a roadmap for developing a new strategy on Research, Innovation and Competitiveness which will bring together energy, transport and research policy for the first time. The document says that the European economy is undergoing constant disruption and transition and in order to meet climate and energy challenges requires major technological advances and fostering of new business models and social organisation. Existing European strategies will feed into this roadmap to shape the new strategy for example creating a Strategic Transport Research and Innovation Agenda which would build upon a previous Commission communication on joint transport and research needs whilst ensuring the sector would meet both the challenge of decarbonisation and increasing mobility needs. The Commission has also outlined what it sees as likely outcomes from a new integrated strategy, which in the transport sector includes much more focus on electric charging infrastructure, storage in batteries & smart grids, generation, provision and use of low-carbon fuels and greater use of ICT in energy, buildings and transport.
Road safety speech emphasises Commission’s Zero Fatality policy
In a speech on European road safety, Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc has highlighted the Commission’s actions in relation to its overarching goal of zero fatalities. She reminded the audience in Ljubljana that the Commission is currently undertaking an evaluation of the Cross-border Enforcement Directive, with the aim of publishing a report on the effectiveness of cross-border information exchange, reviewing the Directive on Infrastructure Safety Management, reviewing the Directive on Standards for professional drivers. Moreover she underlined the introduction of e-Call technology as a mandatory feature for new cars to be equipped with from 2018 onwards. The Commissioner also hinted at further EU investment in research and innovation related to connected and automated vehicles to come in the long-term by saying that this would eventually eliminate the problem of drink-driving from Europe altogether.
Commissioner Bulc speech provides update on EU aviation policy
In a recent speech on EU aviation policy the EU Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc has outlined that the European Commission sees the near future as a time to firm up implementation of its aviation programme. The Commissioner highlights several areas of future work, namely the Commission’s desire to see the Single European Sky (SES) initiative completed and new regulation entered into force as soon as possible whilst also maintaining passenger rights in its current review of the legislation and forthcoming publication of ‘Guidelines on Passenger Rights in 2016’. In terms of investment the Connecting Europe Facility will channel €2.5 billion into the deployment of SESAR, between now and 2020 which the Commission believes will result in the creation of over 300,000 new jobs in the aviation sector.
New transport Action Clusters launched by European Commission
The EU Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc, opened the 2016 Transport for Smart Cities conference at which two new initiatives for the European Innovation Platform (EIP) were launched: Electromobility and New Mobility Services. The Electromobility (EV4SCC) initiative aims to bring together cities and regions together with companies to showcase innovative electro-mobility solutions and to support their scaled-up replication in key market segments such as the intelligent management of public and private fleets of electric-vehicles, smart urban logistics with light e-vehicles, smart electrification of public transport, etc. The New Mobility Services initiative is to focus on contributing to the development of collective systems for seamless multi-modal mobility and will develop open platforms and open data to allow public and private service providers to develop and test schemes around information provision, ticketing and planning for trips. The initiative is seeking to create test beds and develop standardised new mobility service models for data sharing in this regard.
Requests total €2 billion for Horizon 2020 transport-related projects
The Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) has reported that almost €2 billion has been requested by participants hoping to get involved in Horizon 2020 projects in areas relating to transport. The Mobility for Growth 2016 call received 293 project proposals totalling €1.4 billion for only 11 topics which will provide a maximum of €174 million in EU contribution to funding. A further 26 project proposals requesting €96 million in total were submitted for the single-stage topics under this call whereas the EU will be providing €22 million to successful proposals. The Automated Road Transport 2016 call will eventually provide up to €61 million and this saw project proposals from 45 bidders requesting almost four times that amount at €234 million. Meanwhile the Green Vehicles 2016 call which was open for project proposals on technologies for low emission light duty powertrains and hybridisation of road vehicles has a budget of €65 million however still saw 19 proposals submitted for the call in total requesting around €134 million, mostly for the topic on technologies for low emission light-duty powertrains. Successful applicants to the 1st stage of two-stage calls will receive an evaluation by the end of April and will then have a further 3 months within which to submit a full proposal for the 2nd stage of the Mobility for Growth and Automated Road Transport topics.