Mark’s EU Week for Transport 

On the Road to COP26, in just 153 days time, we have some important milestones to guide us to the eventual destination. But they are all currently pointing in the same direction. We are likely to see an unprecedented drive for a more internationally co-ordinated approach to zero emission vehicles, the promotion of active transport modes, and a deal to not just commit but deliver the complete decarbonisation of the transport sector by 2050, in some cases such as private cars, probably by 2040 if not earlier. This is to be achieved through a more holistic approach to transport, health, well-being and the urban environment.

As we begin to plan the post COVID-19 world, the Paris Climate Accord, the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN, the goals of the European Green Deal, and the EU’s and UK’s COVID-19 recovery plans, to build back better and ensure a sustainable recovery and resilience, are beginning to merge, as indeed they should.
And this holistic approach is being pursued by the G7, which meets under the UK Presidency, in just over a week’s time. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will gather leaders of G7 nations, the EU and guest countries at the G7 Summit in Cornwall on 11-13 June 2021 and a key focus will be transforming transport.

G7 Ministers responsible for Climate and Environment, met virtually on 20-21 May 2021 and agreed Joint commitments, which include accelerating the deployment of zero emission vehicles for passengers and freight, and an intensification of efforts in enhancing the offer of more sustainable transport modes in urban and rural areas, including public transport, shared mobility, cycling and walking, and supporting inter-modal transport with investment in rail and waterborne infrastructure. Aviation and maritime are also expected to play their full part in delivering a pathway of emissions reduction consistent with the mitigation goals of the Paris Agreement.

Meanwhile, in Brussels, as we await the ‘Fit for 55’ Package on 14 July, we’ve already seen signs of this new holistic approach with a strengthened focus on the urban environment and clean transport. One new target is for European cities to aim for zero emissions and zero road fatalities by 2030. As we report below the European Commission is organising five consultation workshops on how to deliver that new approach to urban mobility. In addition, Horizon Europe, the €95.5 billion R&D fund which the UK’s remains a member post Brexit, will have a strong focus on transport decarbonisation and greener cities.

If you would like more information about the G7, Fit for 55, COP26, or Horizon Europe, or just want to be part of this new collaborative and holistic approach to transport please do get in touch.  

1. G7 to discuss zero carbon transport
At the end of next week, the UK-hosted G7 will be convened in Cornwall. Among the key topics to be discussed will be zero carbon transport as seen in the communique shared by the G7 climate and environment ministers ahead of next week’s meeting. The communique states that the ministers “We recognise that this will require dramatically increasing the pace of the global decarbonisation of the road transport sector throughout the 2020s and beyond, consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement and our respective 2030 NDCs and net zero commitments”. The communique further adds “We further recognise the urgent need for effective efforts to reduce emissions from the international aviation and maritime sectors to put both sectors on a pathway of emissions reduction consistent with the mitigation goals of the Paris Agreement. We commit to supporting the development and adoption of ambitious mid- and long-term measures at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and to building a global consensus on strengthening the levels of ambition in the initial IMO strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships in the context of its forthcoming revision, with the aim of contributing to the Paris Agreement temperature goal.”.

2. European Commission New Urban Mobility Initiative:
The European Commission has launched a New Urban Mobility Initiative, with the aim of bringing transport transport – including urban mobility – in line with the European Green Deal objectives and and the Smart and Sustainable Transport objectives by making it drastically less polluting and undergo twin green and digital transitions. Within the framework of the consultation process on its new initiative, the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport is organising five consultation workshops on topics of interest for stakeholders and the public:

3. European Commission urges reopening in summer to vaccinated tourists
The European Commission has, this week, proposed that vaccinated people should be exempt from testing or quarantines when travelling from one EU country to another, and urged a gradual easing of travel measures as COVID-19 inoculations accelerate. This comes after the EU reached a deal earlier this month on COVID-19 certificates that will show, via a QR code, whether a person is vaccinated, immune based on recovery from infection or has had a recent negative test. The scheme should be ready by 1 July. The European Union executive, which is seeking to end a current patchwork of travel measures across the bloc, said on Monday that testing or quarantines should not apply to people who have been fully vaccinated 14 days prior to travel.

4. EU Digital COVID Certificate: EU Gateway goes live with seven countries one month ahead of deadline
Today, the EU Digital COVID Certificate has reached another important milestone with the go-live of the technical system at EU level, which allows to verify certificates in a secure and privacy-friendly way. Available in digital format or on paper, it will be a proof that a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, tested negative, or recovered from an infection. Following the political agreement between the European Parliament and Council on the Regulation governing the certificate on 20 May, the technical backbone of the EU systems has now gone live. Set up in only two months, the EU gateway provides for the verification of the security features contained in the QR codes of all certificates.

While the Regulation will be applied from 1 July, all Member States, which have past the technical tests and are ready to issue and verify certificates, can now start using the system on a voluntary basis. Already today, seven Member States – Bulgaria, Czechia, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Croatia and Poland – have decided to connect to the gateway and started issuing first EU certificates, while certain countries have decided to launch the EU Digital COVID Certificate only when all functions are deployed nationwide.

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:

  • 3 June 2021:  Next ENVI Committee meeting.
  • 7-10 June 2021: Next European Parliament Plenary session – agenda.
  • 11-13 June 2021:  G7 Meeting.
  • 16-17 June 2021:  Next TRAN Committee meeting.
  • 14 July 2021:  Fit for 55 Package published.
  • 1-12 November 2021:  COP 26.
Mark Watts
UK Transport in Europe (UKTiE)
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