Vice-President of the European Commission Commissioner for Transport Siim Kallas addressing EMTA members during the gala dinner of September 17 2012 in the city of Berlin.
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a pleasure for me to speak at the European Metropolitan
Transport Authorities association’s General Meeting during the
As Europeans, we have one of the best transport systems in the
world. But we also know that there is a great deal of work to do
to make that system fit for the future.
We have to make better use of infrastructure, remove bottlenecks
across the wider network, and provide transport users
with seamless and accessible mobility and services. At the same
time, we are acutely aware of the need to reduce transport’s
impact on our health, and on the environment and climate.
And we know that we need to pay particular attention to the
urban dimension of transport – because our success in meeting
the challenges before us will to a large extent be decided in our
towns and cities. And it is with this in mind that our transport
strategy has the goal of phasing out conventionally fuelled
vehicles in urban areas by 2050.
Obviously, public transport needs to gain in importance and
needs to become cleaner to achieve this goal. In Stockholm,
conventional diesel-fuelled city buses have been replaced by clean
vehicles that run on biogas and ethanol. By the end of this year,
the city will be fully serviced by clean buses with 800 bioethanol
and 270 biogas buses running on a daily basis. Stockholm also
has a comprehensive infrastructure for alternative fuels and local
biogas production facilities that supply much of this fuel.
Ladies and gentlemen: I have been asked whether our goal of
phasing out conventionally fuelled vehicles in urban areas by
2050 is realistic. Well, if Stockholm and others can phase out this
kind of city bus by 2012, it shows what is possible with the
necessary commitment. So I firmly believe that it is possible to
achieve the transition to a modern and sustainable transport system.
But if we are to meet our goals for 2050, it is vital that we step
up the pace and take concerted action on all levels: EU, nationally,
regionally and locally. And you as public transport providers in
metropolitan areas have to play a crucial role.
For instance, the CIVITAS programme and the initiatives
which have been launched under the Action Plan on urban
mobility of 2008 have played a crucial role in forming our policy.
But we also need to hear the views of all the parties concerned
to make sure that our policies correspond to their needs and
Ten years of CIVITAS have demonstrated that we can really achieve
a transition to sustainability in urban mobility and transport when
local efforts are supported by EU action.
But let us come back to reality: What we have achieved so far,
while encouraging, is not enough.
Many cities suffer from severe traffic congestion, which creates
bottlenecks along the main arteries of the trans-European transport
network and has a knock-on effect on long-distance and crossborder
Many cities are also struggling to improve their poor air quality,
which has a serious negative impact on citizens’ health.
European towns and cities have a key role to play in our efforts
to mitigate the effects of climate change by reducing greenhouse
gas emissions produced by transport.
Another important issue is road safety: in spite of considerable
progress in the past, some 30,000 people are killed on our roads
every year. This is not acceptable. It has to be one of our priorities
to reduce that number further. Accidents on urban roads
account for some 40% of the fatalities in road accidents.
So change is clearly needed - and Europe’s cities must be at the
forefront of that change. With their high population densities
and high share of short-distance trips, cities are uniquely placed
to pave the way for new transport services and technologies.
And, if we seize the moment, we can make sure that European
companies become early leaders in a market that offers great
potential for future growth and employment - innovative solutions
for cleaner and more sustainable mobility.
- Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Transport Mr Siim Kallas
Our success will depend on many factors:
Research and innovation is key. Ultra-clean and silent buses
would improve the image of public transport. Clean, quiet service
and delivery vehicles would raise the quality of city life. Through
research funding we have been able to finance demonstration
projects in the urban context with very positive feedback. Further
actions are needed. This year, the Commission will be supporting
electromobility demonstration projects for urban freight, and for
city buses in 2013.
A recent initiative of the Commission in this area is a strategy
paper on "Research and innovation for Europe’s future
mobility that was adopted on 13 September 2012 and it will
be presented this week.
The Strategy summarises the achievements of the European
transport sector in research and innovation, outlines remaining
issues and presents ideas for better serving the needs of
European citizens and businesses. The Commission wants to
facilitate coordination of public and private research and innovation
efforts across Europe. Addressing the challenge of deploying
innovative transport solutions is of particular interest.
Another good example is the Smart Cities and Communities
Partnership, which Vice-President Kroes, Commissioner Oettinger,
and I have launched together this July. This Partnership will help
research-driven companies in the sectors information and communication,
energy, and transport work more closely together in
developing truly integrated system solutions for the urban area.
The proposed projects should demonstrate the cost-effective
performance of technology combinations not quite ready to be
commercialised. The aim is to produce commercial-scale results
and help companies which find it too risky to move towards
quick deployment of innovative technologies. And this is despite
the potential cost savings and longer-term emissions reductions
of schemes which cover a range of public city services.
We also have to avoid fragmentation among our cities and ensure
concerted action for large-scale deployment of alternative fuels
throughout Europe. Isolated actions have been successful; we
now need to make them successful EU stories. The Commission
therefore will shortly launch a Clean Power for Transport
Initiative. This initiative should provide policy and legislative tools
to promote innovative transport solutions such as electromobility
in the urban context. One objective will be for instance the
gradual build-up of charging and refuelling infrastructure so as
to ensure the EU-wide free circulation of vehicles, vessels and
aircraft powered by alternative fuels.
- From left: Secretary of state of Brandenburg, Rainer Bretschneider, Commissioner for Transport Siim Kallas, EMTA President Hans-Werner Franz
But there is more to say on infrastructure.
- On 19 October 2011, the Commission issued two legislative
proposals: a proposed review of the TEN-T guidelines,
and a proposed regulation establishing a ”Connecting
Europe Facility”. This financial instrument will invest
€31.7 billion to upgrade Europe’s transport infrastructure,
build missing links and remove bottlenecks over the period
- One of the key innovations concerns urban nodes. Urban
nodes play a key role in shaping the core network – the strategically most important part of the TEN-T to be implemented as a priority by 2030. A specific article has been introduced in the TEN-T Guidelines’ proposal. With this, the
relevant actors are for the first time explicitely called upon
by European legislation to take the relevant measures.
- A competitive and performing urban public transport
sector needs a well-functioning regulatory framework. The
Regulation on public service obligations and its imple
mentation foster the creation of an Internal Market for
public transport services. In order to fulfil this role the pro
visions of the Regulation need to be implemented in a
- An international stakeholders’ consultation and the work
shop held in November 2011 concluded that the PSO
Regulation constitutes an appropriate legal framework and
can be considered beneficial to the performance of the
public transport sector. However, the Commission received
a mandate to provide guidance to the sector on the inter
pretation of a number of provisions of this Regulation to
ensure their coherent application.
- The Commission is therefore about to establish a guidance
document in form of an interpretative Communication.
Although not legally binding, it will provide some legal
certainty to market actors in the definition of Public Service
Obligations and contracts, their award to operators and the
way to calculate compensation of Public Service Obligations.
But I do not want to stop before mentioning the Green
eMotion project builds on the results of numerous national and
European electromobility projects and combines them into one
European initiative. As a demonstration project, Green eMotion
shows how electromobility can function across Europe,
Ladies and gentlemen,
We have made significant progress in working together on
urban mobility issues. Five years ago, when the Commission
presented its Green Paper ”Towards a New Culture for Urban
Mobility”, the question was often asked: ”Is there a role to play
for the EU in the field of urban mobility”?
But we now have a constructive debate about what should be
done and how. We have agreed that decisive action and effort
at local level is crucial for meeting the key objectives of EU
transport policy, and that targeted EU intervention will be a
powerful catalyst for that effort.
This has helped us define the important urban dimension in our
EU transport policy. But we are now standing at an important
This is why I have decided to present an ”urban mobility package”
in the middle of next year. This will deliver on some of the key
urban transport initiatives which were outlined in last year’s
Transport White Paper.
It is clear the public transport has to play a key role in
modernising transport in our cities. I therefore appeal to
you to team up with the Commission in the effort to reach
Thank you for your attention.
Updated : November 29, 2012