Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all let me say that I deeply regret not being able to be with you, today, to attend your General Assembly in Valencia. Nevertheless, I would like to grasp the opportunity of this address to spend a few words on Urban Mobility in order to set scene and to reiterate the position of the European Commission in this regard.
The objectives of the European transport policy cannot be achieved without looking at mobility in urban areas. This was clearly demonstrated during our high level Future of Transport conference, which we organised on 9 and 10 March in Brussels, in order to prepare our communication on “The future of the European Transport Policy”, which will be adopted next of June and which will deal, among others, with Urban Mobility.
As a matter of fact, urban transport is an integral part of the EU transport system. Most transport starts and ends in urban areas and by-passes several urban areas on its way. Hence, urban mobility is not only important for the daily life in cities, but also for long-distance transport. Urban areas should provide efficient interconnection points to the trans-European transport network and offer efficient “last mile” solutions for freight and passengers transport.
Tackling climate change, facilitating trade, securing energy supply, addressing health concerns and taking care of demographic change are all issues of key importance for policy makers in Europe. Mobility in urban areas is closely related to these challenges.
A large majority of Europe’s citizens lives in urban areas. Cities and towns are real growth engines for our economy: almost 85% of the EU’s GDP is generated in cities. But in parallel, many negative effects of transport are concentrated in towns and cities.
Developing clean, energy efficient, intelligent, safe and affordable urban transport systems is therefore essential to tackling climate change and meeting our commitment to sustainable development.
40 years of EU experience in urban mobility
Urban transport is not a newcomer to the European transport policy. Public transport markets in urban areas have been regulated by the EU for 40 years, since 1969. Furthermore, many corridors of the trans-European network pass through urban areas, and many of its interfaces are located there. It is thus not surprising that all our important policy papers, in the last two decades, addressed urban transport.
Our 2007 Green Paper on urban mobility has helped to put the issue in the heart of the discussions on the future of transport in Europe. The Paper launched a wide debate on key issues of urban mobility, such as free-flowing and greener towns and cities, smarter urban mobility, and urban transport that is accessible, safe and secure for all European citizens. In the debate attracting a large interest, citizens and stakeholders confirmed their expectations of the EU’s involvement in urban mobility – in particular as a facilitator.
Over the past years, we have launched a number of important actions in order to make urban mobility more sustainable. Let me give you some examples of actions that are of particular interest for the public transport sector.
New European rules on public transport services and passenger rights
Important new EU legislation for public passenger transport will enter into force at the end of this year. First, the Regulation on public transport services for passengers travelling by rail and by road will require the competent authorities to conclude public service contracts when granting exclusive rights or financial compensation for public service obligations. Second, the Regulation on the rights of passengers in rail transport will extend European rules to domestic urban, suburban and short-distance regional rail services, usually covered by public service contracts.
In December 2008, we also proposed to strengthen the rights of passengers travelling by bus or coach. These rules address, among others, the equal treatment of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility.
Promoting clean vehicles and supporting sustainable urban transport
A new European Directive promoting clean and energy efficient road vehicles will soon come into force. It requires that procurement of vehicles used in public transport takes into account their lifetime energy consumption as well as their CO2 and pollutant emissions. This will, without doubt, be a strong incentive for further developing the market of clean and energy-efficient vehicles. To facilitate the implementation of this Directive, the Commission has launched an internet site on clean and energy efficient vehicles, with a legislation guide, a lifetime calculator, information on joint procurement and references to Community funded projects related to the Directive.
Another major initiative, the so-called CIVITAS programme helps cities test and implement integrated packages of measures in the field of both energy and transport. These measures aim to reduce congestion, save energy and promote alternative fuels in urban transport. Since 2002, the EU has made available € 180 million to support integrated approaches promoting sustainable transport in many cities across Europe. We are now looking at the future in order to build on the success achieved by the CIVITAS programme.
An Action Plan for the future
We cannot achieve the objectives of European transport policy without looking at transport in urban areas. I am therefore totally committed to further developing European activities in the field of urban mobility. New actions have already been launched this year, and more will come. In doing so, we will of course fully respect the principle of subsidiary. The various views expressed in response to the Green Paper on urban mobility have also provided valuable input to a comprehensive Action Plan on urban mobility which is being prepared by the European Commission. The Action Plan is in the Commission’s work programme for 2009 and I would like to underline that I am strongly committed to urban mobility and to the adoption of a comprehensive Action Plan on urban mobility in the near future.
Our Action Plan will build upon, and integrate single actions that we have been carrying out for a long time into a coherent framework. This should provide the policy framework and the political vision for future new actions where initiatives at EU level are considered helpful or even necessary.
I wish you all a successful conference.
Vice-President Antonio Tajani Commissioner for Transport