Mark’s EU Week for Transport 

Mark with UK Ambassador to the EU, Lindsay Croisdale-Appleby CMG

It was an honour to co-host an event on behalf of UK Transport in Europe on zero carbon transport with Lindsay Croisdale-Appleby CMG, the UK Ambassador and Head of the UK Mission to the European Union, at the UK Ambassador’s Official Residence in Brussels.

It was part of an intensive two-day programme to facilitate meetings between the best of UK transport with representatives of the European Union, the Governments of Norway, Switzerland, Canada, the representatives in Brussels of our own UK Devolved Administrations, and many leading European and international transport stakeholders.

At the event I expressed my solidarity with the people of Ukraine in their fight against Putin’s unjustified invasion, and how their fight is our fight too, because we must all uphold the rules-based system of the international legal order.

I emphasised how we must not lose sight of our fight against climate change, achieving zero carbon, ending dependency on Russian oil and gas, diversifying energy supplies and encouraging renewables.  With these mutually reinforcing objectives in mind, the prospect of a prosperous and peaceful future for Europe is in plain sight.

The transport sector, as the fastest growing source of CO2 emissions and the fastest growing consumer of fossil fuels, has a particular responsibility to switch to alternative and renewable fuels. This obligation should be combined with initiatives to enhance the offer of more sustainable transport modes, including public transport, shared mobility, cycling and walking.

Lastly, I stressed how we need to re-boot our relationships in Brussels, the European national capitals and the wider world. Our mission is to sell our goods and services and encourage inward investment to the UK, but we must also, in partnership with our friends, allies and neighbours, promote the values that unite us, among others, freedom, democracy, respect for human rights, international peace and security, and the right to self-determination of peoples.

Building on a highly successful visit, all participants agreed we should immediately plan another programme for the autumn in order to continue the positive momentum generated from the important meetings we convened.

Finally, may I thank everyone we met and everyone who helped organise our programme, for contributing to the success of the visit.

Finally, the song of the week has to be ‘The Boys Are Back in Town’ by Thin Lizzy.

1. UKTiE has successful engagement with EU third countries
Last week, in addition to meeting the European Commission and many other key EU stakeholders (see above) an UKTiE delegation to Brussels held several successful meetings with Switzerland, Norway and Canada representatives in Brussels. The meetings were planned in order for other third country representatives to shed some light on their relationship with the EU and their respective mechanisms for engaging with the EU and its institutions.

The delegation also met with the UK Mission in Brussels, as well as colleagues from DfT, to agree how we can draw lessons, and best work together to best engage in Brussels given our third country status.

2. European Commission to publish RePowerEU plan in May
Following on from the RePowerEU strategy to diversify the EU away from Russian fossil fuels published earlier this month, the European Commission is now due to publish a RePowerEU plan to action the earlier strategy. This plan should unveil a detailed pathway, potentially divided by sector, as to how the EU actions some of the lofty ambitions from the RePowerEU strategy. The plan due on 18 May will be published following consultations between Member States and the European Commission.

3. Britain proposes to bring the shipping sector into the carbon market 
The UK Government has launched a consultation on changes to its emissions trading system including bringing shipping into the scheme and tightening its cap in line with the country’s net-zero target. It says the consultations leaves open the “possibility of linking the UK ETS internationally”, and noting that many participants “have called on the government to link it to the European scheme”.

With its proposal to revise the EU carbon emissions trading scheme, the European Commission aims to include shipping in the EU ETS. This would make shipping polluters pay a carbon price for their pollution and contribute financially to the innovation of the sector. The Commission also wants to encourage a transition to more sustainable ship propulsion by placing a limit on greenhouse gas emissions in fuels.

4. Europe’s Rail publishes its Call for Proposals 2022 
Projects worth €390 million, against €234 million funding, are expected to be funded under the Europe’s Rail 2022 Call for Proposals   for Research & Innovation activities, within the framework of the Europe’s Rail Annual Work Programme 2022-2024. The application period is now open and submissions will be accepted until 23 June 2022.

The Call builds upon the results of the Shift2Rail Programme, to reach high TRL levels, paving the way to the deployment of innovative operational and technological solutions in the areas of European rail network management, automation and digitalisation of rail operations, sustainable and resilient systems, rail freight in the supply chain perspective and regional and capillary lines. It sets the basis for rail to accelerate its contribution to the European Green Deal, the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy and the Fit for 55 Package, in a context of recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

5. Transport Commissioner Adina Ioana Vălean participated in an exchange of views with TRAN on her priorities for 2022
The Commissioner spoke about the progress on the ‘CountEmissions EU’ inititaitve which she hoped would help lower use of imported fossil fuels by providing a European framework for measuring transport and logistics-related greenhouse gas emissions in a consistent way.

The Commissioner said she would also launch a proposal on multimodal digital mobility services later this year, to make it easier for citizens to plan and buy tickets for journeys combining different operators or means of transport. This is particularly important to better integrate rail into multimodal chains. By facilitating the access to information, booking and payment of such services, this initiative will improve the sustainability, resilience, efficiency and comfort of the transport system. She will also present a maritime package later this year on the revision of three key safety directives – flag State control, port State control and accident investigation.

6. The Commission has launched a public consultation for revision of the Air Services Regulation 
The consultation is part of a review of the Air Services Regulation and it is hoped the revision will ensure the Regulation is in line with moves to make aviation more sustainable, smarter, resilient and socially responsible.  The Air Services Regulation sets common rules for air services in the EU, including on operating licence requirements, the freedom to provide services, and how prices should be displayed to consumers.

7. MPs to review diplomatic mission in Brussels 
A new inquiry will review the UK’s post-Brexit diplomatic mission to the European Union. The House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee will conduct the review. The Committee will also review the diplomatic representatives of the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and the Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories. Committee chairman Cash said that lawmakers would consider “different possible approaches to European engagement to see if we’re getting the most from our investment”.

8. is organising the worthy campaign FORWARDERS FOR UKRAINE
The aim is to organise freights with humanitarian aid to be delivered to Ukraine. More than 350 carriers are already involved in the action, actively delivering goods to refugees and people staying in Ukraine. The campaign is in need of support for planning routes, finding carriers and adding loads to the freight exchange, where they will be picked up by the appropriate vehicle. More information and a sign up form can be found at this link.

9. 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:

  • 31 March 2022: Next TRAN Committee meetings.
  • 31 March 2022: Next ENVI Committee meeting.
  • 2 June 2022: Next Transport Council.
Mark Watts
UK Transport in Europe (UKTiE)
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