UK TRANSPORT AND BREXIT NEWS & VIEWS NO. 149

Mark’s EU Week for Transport 
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WattsUp!

A new date for your transport diary is Wednesday 14 July.

As we report below, the EU’s Fit for 55 package of concrete climate measures to deliver the Green Deal is delayed until July 14th, but this should not be interpreted as any diminution of the commitment of the EU institutions to radically change the way in which we move people and goods.

Raising the 2030 climate target from 40% to at least 55% requires a set of actions across all sectors of the economy, but particularly transport, because it is the only sector to have increased emissions since 1990, and despite COVID-19 transport emissions continue to grow.

No area of transport will be left unregulated in some shape of form, from extending ETS to energy taxation.  And of course, the publication of the Fit for 55 Package will be just the beginning, from extending the ETS to reviewing the rules for energy taxation, it will inevitably be amended by the European Parliament and the Council through the legislative process.

There will be much focus on legislation to phase out or even ban fossil fuels and encourage, including through taxation and subsidies, alternatives, in particular through the FuelEU Maritime and ReFuel EU aviation proposals.

The UK will closely follow and even mirror this package, and in some areas will be even more ambitious. EU thinking will also shape the rest of the world too, from the G7 to COP26 and beyond. The new management in the US will of course continue to demonstrate leadership in climate policy as we witnessed recently at Joe Biden’s Earth Summit, but in transport the sheer scale, complexity and boldness of the EU’s proposals will predominate.

It may be understandable to be a bit cynical about the potential for the EU’s package to deliver, but the view from Brussels is that this is Europe’s top policy priority, described by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen as the EU’s ‘Man on the Moon’ moment. If anything, COVID-19 has reinforced that view, and furthermore provided funding for it through the NextGenerationEU budget, part of the largest stimulus package ever financed in Europe, even larger than the Marshall Plan.

So we’ll be taking it very seriously indeed, and launching a new tracking tool on July 14th, to follow the weekly twists and turns of the Fit for 55 Package for transport from launch to landing. Contact us about UKTiE membership so you can access that tool. Just 63 days to lift off!

1. Fit for 55 Package on July 14th
This week, the European Commission confirmed suspicions that it’s long-awaited ‘Fit for 55’ package had been delayed from its initial June publication date. The new date for everyone’s diaries? July 14th. A list of the policy proposals coming out on July 14th are set out below:

Of particular note for transport, the FuelEU Maritime, ReFuelEU Aviation, Revision and extension of the Emissions Trading Scheme and the Revision of the Directive on deployment of the alternative fuels infrastructure. These will all be published and will join the ongoing Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy as the major transport files of this European Commission mandate. The EU has long recognised that transport emissions must be tackled and, with pressure on to meet this updated target and to show results, transport is clearly being targeted as shown by the above-listed proposals.

2. MEPs call for cleaner maritime transport
Voting in plenary on the TRAN Committee-led resolution on technical and operational measures for more efficient and cleaner maritime transport, MEPs passed the resolution which states that a climate neutral transition of the maritime transport should be followed with a substantial emissions reduction, clean ports and banning the use of heavy fuel oil. The resolution further calls for shipping companies to achieve a 40% reduction in emissions by 2030 and the inclusion of maritime transport in the EU Emissions Trading Systems. The emission control should not be limited to CO2 emissions only – MEPs also stress the urgent health and environmental need to establish a sulphur and nitrogen emission control areas in Mediterranean that could be extended to all EU seas. MEPs urge the Commission to address this situation and put incentives, including through tax exemptions, to promote the use of alternatives to heavy fuels. LNG and LNG infrastructure could be one of transitional technologies towards zero-emission alternatives in the maritime sector. The resolution is non-legislative and is seen as a precursor for the European Commission’s FuelEU Maritime proposal (to be published on July 14th) and gives an insight as to what the European Parliament is expecting from the proposal.

3. European Parliament upgrades rail passengers’ rights
MEPs have voted to approve the agreement with member states on the revised rules on rail passengers’ rights, new rules which guarantee that passengers can be re-routed and receive help when there are delays and cancellations as well as guaranteeing that access and assistance will improve for people with reduced mobility, and there will be more dedicated spaces for bicycles. Under the new rules, if there is a delay of over 60 minutes, passengers can choose either to be fully reimbursed for the cost of the ticket, continue on their journey or be re-routed under comparable conditions, but without facing additional costs. They must be able to travel in the same class as their original ticket. Train travellers will be able to organise travel on a different route themselves and get reimbursement for a new ticket if the rail operator does not communicate re-routing options within 100 minutes from scheduled departure. The new rules also provide better assistance for people with reduced mobility, and the new rules also state that all trains must be equipped with dedicated spaces and racks for bicycles, with at least four bicycle spaces on each train.

The new rules will apply in principle to all international and domestic rail journeys and services throughout the EU, with a possibility for member states to exempt domestic rail services for a limited time.

4. UKTiE has also put together the latest timetable of key transport and supply chain developments in Europe. We will keep this up to date as the process develops:

  • 17-20 May 2021: Next European Parliament Plenary session – agenda.
  • 22 May 2021:  International Transport Forum Summit.
  • 25 May 2021:  Next TRAN Committee meeting.
  • 26-27 May 2021:  Next ENVI Committee meetings.
  • 14 July 2021:  Fit for 55 Package published.
  • 11-13 June 2021:  G7 Meeting.
  • 1-12 November 2021:  COP 26.
Mark Watts
UK Transport in Europe (UKTiE)
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