Mark’s EU Week for Transport
The big transport news here in Brussels in the past week was the unveiling by the EU of their vaccine ‘passport’ plan. A Digital Green Certificate that will be proof that a person has either:
• Been vaccinated against Covid-19
• Received a negative test result (NAAT/RT-PCR test or a rapid antigen test)
• Recovered from Covid-19
It will facilitate the resumption of safe free movement inside the EU, and the EU is also working with the World Health Organization to ensure that certificates issued in the EU can be recognised elsewhere in the world as well. It will be available free of charge in digital or paper format, and will include a QR code to ensure the security and authenticity of the certificate.
Unlike the slow roll-out of the vaccine in Europe, the EU aims to steal a march on other regions by opening up to tourism this summer by promoting equivalent digital certificates globally too.
It’s something I’ve called-for, and given that the proposal addresses the understandable concerns about privacy and discrimination, I hope it is swiftly adopted by the European Parliament and the Council, so it ready before the summer.
The other major development last week did not make it to the headlines, but is dominating work behind the scenes and at a technical level in various Committees in Brussels (see below), namely the preparations for a mammoth package of green laws , ‘’Fit for 55’’.
That’s the Commission’s nickname for the massive package of EU legislation it is preparing to table in June, with the aim of conforming European laws to the new 55% carbon reduction objective for 2030, and preparing the EU to play a key leadership role at COP26 in Glasgow.
Everything will be on the table, and what happens between now and COP26 will probably be more important than what actually happens at the COP. Just about every EU law on transport, energy and climate is going to be revised, and this will have a profound impact globally too, as the EU’s global influence grows, particularly on instruments such as the Emission Trading Scheme.
We’ve organised a number of briefings on these development for UKTiE members and are planning an event to bring together EU and UK climate and transport experts ahead COP26.
Do let us know if you wish to join us.
1. European Commission travel pass certificate
Last week, the European Commission proposed to create a Digital Green Certificate to facilitate safe free movement inside the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Digital Green Certificate will be a proof that a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result or recovered from COVID-19. It will be available, free of charge, in digital or paper format. It will include a QR code to ensure security and authenticity of the certificate. The Commission will build a gateway to ensure all certificates can be verified across the EU, and support Member States in the technical implementation of certificates. Member States remain responsible to decide which public health restrictions can be waived for travellers but will have to apply such waivers in the same way to travellers holding a Digital Green Certificate. The Digital Green Certificate system is a temporary measure. It will be suspended once the World Health Organization (WHO) declares the end of the COVID-19 international health emergency.
2. TRAN Committee discusses use of hydrogen in transport
Last week, the TRAN Committee held a Policy Department workshop on the use of hydrogen fuel in transport. During the discussion, TRAN Members discussed with experts the prospects of the use of hydrogen fuel in the transport sector and the related technologies for road, rail, waterborne and air transport. The presentations included Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking, Persee and the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking. The workshop focused on providing an overview of hydrogen as an alternative transport fuel and the role of hydrogen fuel in the green transition and mapping of relevant and ongoing joint projects. Additionally, the state of play and perspectives of hydrogen fuel as a game changer for rail, maritime, aviation, and road sectors, and the emerging solutions and technical obstacles to its full exploitation was discussed.
3. Europe’s Digital Decade: digital targets for 2030
Last week, the European Commission published targets and avenues for a successful digital transformation of Europe by 2030. The published communication lists potential benefits for mobility as a result of a successful digital transformation, stating that “digital solutions for connected and automated mobility have great potential for reducing traffic accidents, enhancing quality-of-life, and improving the efficiency of transportation systems, including concerning their environmental footprint.” The Communication further states that digitalisation will see platforms in rural and urban communities powered by digital technologies and will offer services such as multi-modal intelligent transport systems, rapid emergency assistance in case of accidents, more targeted waste management solutions, traffic management, urban planning, smart energy and lighting solutions, resource optimisation, and more.
4. Unpublished EU analysis takes negative view on CORSIA aviation emissions agreement
A global agreement designed to tackle airline emissions could actually undermine Europe’s climate efforts, according to an EU study obtained by NGO Transport & Environment. The study, expected in the summer, finds that the Corsia deal, under which airlines can pay to offset growth of carbon pollution, is “unlikely to materially alter” the climate impact of air travel.
5. 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:
- 23 March 2021: Next ENVI Committee meeting.
- 14-15 April 2021: Next TRAN Committee meeting.
- 26-28 May 2021: International Transport Forum Summit.
- 11-13 June 2021: G7 Meeting.
- 1-12 November 2021: COP 26.
UK Transport in Europe (UKTiE)