UK TRANSPORT AND BREXIT NEWS & VIEWS NO. 163

Mark’s EU Week for Transport 

Mark speaking at the Global LNG Bunkering Summit in Amsterdam

Watts Up!  

It was great to have the chance to address the Global LNG Bunkering Summit 2022 in Amsterdam this week, to brief the industry on the latest regulatory proposals from Brussels, set out in the EU’s Fit for 55 Package, on how European and international shipping calling into EU ports will have to decarbonise. I also briefed industry on the EU’s recent REPowerEU proposal, that will seek to wean Europe off of Russian coal, oil and gas, by diversifying gas supplies, speeding up the roll-out of renewable gases and replacing gas in heating and power generation. 

It was also an honour to chair day one of the conference and learn first-hand from experts about the key role of LNG, and its carbon free cousins, bioLNG and sustainable synthetic LNG, in decarbonising shipping. There were fantastic presentations on the increasing widespread use of LNG and bioLNG as a drop-in fuel, slashing carbon emissions and dramatically reducing, to almost zero, the emission of pollutants like NOx, SOx and particulates, and learning about the ships already sailing that are using synthetic LNG. 

There is lots of hype about hydrogen at the moment, but we learnt that it is probably not available at scale until 2035 at the earliest, and it still must overcome many practical hurdles like cost, ironically the huge amount of energy required to produce it, and of course safety concerns for the cargo, passengers, crew and the environment.   

It remains a mystery why some regulators, politicians, shipping lines and even green NGOs prefer to see the shipping industry continue to rely on and burn toxic heavy fuel oil, some of it from Russia, for the next ten or twenty years or more, and wait for the possibility of hydrogen coming on stream, rather than switch now to LNG and its carbon free cousins, and benefit from immediate and significant cuts in carbon emissions, huge air quality benefits and  immediately cutting the flow of an important source of funds to the Kremlin. 

The conclusion must be that energy policy is increasingly driven by emotion not reason, that the debate needs to become more evidence-based, and those informing policymakers must do it in a way that is more accessible, inclusive and understandable. 

Finally, the song of the week has to be Bunker by Balthazar.  

1. EP TRAN tourism task force discusses connectivity as a focal point for the tourism sector  
Monserrat Barriga, Director General of European Regions Airline Association said that a 10% approximate increase in regional flights was driving tourism by 5%, growth by 8% and investment by 6%. She told the Committee that the regional aviation sector was in a weak financial situation as 97.32% of insolvencies had involved smaller airlines and examples of routes at stake were Northern Europe, Malta and Greece. Charles Casas, Chairman of Toprail said that rail tourism had seen an impressive recovery thanks to the number of domestic tourists in 2021. He said the rail sector was making huge efforts to become more competitive and raise awareness in consumers of the need for sustainability and to help local communities. Jon Worth of Trains for Europe said that cross-border railway services needed a better cross-border ticketing coordination which reflect passenger rights which would include connection protection. Sumaira Isaacs, CEO of World Tourism Forum Institute called for greater investment in labour training and upskilling in tandem with policies designed to boost the transport sector.  

2. Port of Antwerp reaps rewards from Brexit  
The port of Antwerp-Bruges has now become the largest export port in Europe. As traffic jams full of hundreds of lorries stopped at UK customs have made the news, logistics firms have moved away from rail and road due to border-check complications. The CEO of the port Jacques Vandermeiren said in a recent interview that ‘the forwarders prefer to move their goods in containers from Antwerp to a port in the United Kingdom than to bring them by truck to a port like Calais or even Zeebrugge’. For trucks and rail, ‘you have waiting times, the queues at the entrance of the gates and the border control, not only the goods but also on the trucker. And you have that in both directions’.  

3. EP TRAN publishes draft motion for a Resolution on the impact of the Russian war on the EU transport and tourism sectors  
The motion recalled that transport is a strategic means for the EU to provide solidarity and support to Ukraine and its suffering people in terms of logistics, humanitarian aid and refugee evacuation and mobility. The motion believes that EU-based and EU-owned transport operators with links to the Russian market should be supported as they reorient their transport operations away from Russia. The motion expresses concerns over the severe impact the conflict is having on the aviation, maritime and rail when it comes to operating costs, making both passenger and freight more expensive. With regards rail, the motion regrets that there is no direct ban on rail transport operations with Russian Railways for the time being but notes that Russian Railways have been added to the list of legal entities and bodies subject to financial restrictions. The motion also stresses the need to put much more ambition on the EU’s project for military mobility and calls on the Commission to provide the necessary funding in the EU Member States for the developing of the dual use of infrastructure with strategic role required in meeting present and future needs.  
 
4. Fleets of hydrogen taxis are picking up across Europe  
French company Hype which is becoming a frontrunner in this area, said in an interview that taxis can compete with combustion engines as they can go 500-700 km before needing a refill, which takes only five minutes. In the Ile-de-Franc region by June 2023, Hype hopes to order a dozen stations from its partners, with a capacity of one tonne per day of locally produced green hydrogen. Hype plans to have 10,000 vehicles in the Ile-de-France region by 2024. Elsewhere, Green Tomato Cars operates a fleet of 50 vehicles in London.  

Separately, the European Commission has launched a call for proposals with funding of 300.5 million available for clean hydrogen technologies. The first deadline is 31 May 2022 and the second deadline is 20 September 2022.  
 
5. 77% of inland freight transported by road in 2020  
According to recent statistics published by Eurostat, in 2020 road transport accounted for more than 77% of the EU’s inland freight transport, the highest figure recorded in the past decade. Rail and inland waterways transport accounted for 17% and 6% of inland freight transport respectively (based on tonne-kilometres performed). The share of road transport increased by 1 percentage point compared with 2019 and by 4 pp compared with the year recording the lowest share in the last decade, which was 2012. Meanwhile, the share of rail transport reached a low point in 2020 (17%). It decreased by 1 pp compared with 2019 and by 2 pp compared with the year recording the highest share in the last decade, which was 2011. In 2020, the Member States that recorded the largest shares of road transport were Ireland (99%), Greece (97%) and Spain (96%). The countries with the largest shares of inland waterways were the Netherlands (42%), Bulgaria and Romania (both 29%). 

6. Commission announces 100 cities participating in EU mission for climate-neutral and smart cities by 2030  
The 100 cities come from all 27 Member States, with 12 additional cities coming from countries associated or with the potential of being associated to Horizon Europe. The Cities Mission will receive €360 million of Horizon Europe funding covering the period 2022-2023, to start innovation paths towards climate neutrality by 2030. The research and innovation actions will address clean mobility, energy efficiency and green urban planning, and offer the possibility to build joint initiatives and ramp up collaborations in synergies with other EU programmes.  
 
7. Possible embargo on Russian oil and gas on the horizon  
The Commission wants to ban oil imports from Russia – which would form part of a sixth package of sanctions targeting Moscow for its war on Ukraine. The Commission also proposed that Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, and two other major banks be disconnected from the Swift international banking payment system. Ms von der Leyen, addressing the European Parliament called on the EU’s member nations to phase out imports of crude oil within six months and refined products by the end of the year. However, these proposals need to be unanimously approved to take effect and are likely to be subject to fierce debate. If imposed, it is likely Europe will have a short and painful adjustment period with a significant impact on the transport industry in Europe.  
 
8. MEPs demand Russia must return stolen airplanes  
MEPs are concerned about the severe impact the war is having on the aviation sector, deploring the fact that Russia, in clear breach of international civil aviation rules, has forced airplanes leased from foreign companies to re-register in Russia’s aircraft register. “Such theft cannot be tolerated,” MEPs say, demanding the immediate return of these aircraft to their lawful owners.

9.  Funding opportunities  
The European Commission has launched new calls for projects under Horizon Europe’s Work Programme for 2021-2022. EU funding of EUR 283 million in total is now available for Energy and Mobility topics with a deadline of 6 September 2022. Please follow this link for more details about the calls, deadlines and evaluation stages.  

10.  Upcoming events 
The British Chamber of Commerce is hosting an event on the 5 May 2022 entitled ‘EU-UK Gateway Series: A Guide for Businesses from A to Z (Session 2)’. It will be held online and the topics that will be presented during the panels include all the different phases and processes that companies face when they want to establish a business in the Belgian market or when they want to reach the European market through Belgium, including incorporation, supply chains, day-to-day operations, social security and taxes, and transport. 

UITP is hosting the event ‘No passenger left behind series: Creating a physical and digital barrier-free public transport’ on 5 May 2022. The online event will discuss a new a co-design approach is proposed to allow people, disabled by inaccessible environments, to take the leading role in designing accessible and useable transport systems. By focusing on the experience and needs of disabled people, the project aims to directly address a wide variety of barriers in current urban transport systems, including those linked to age, gender, health, or language.  

The International Aviation Safety Conference will take place in Washington D.C. from June 14-16 2022. The conference brings together regulators, airspace industry representatives, and other stakeholders from around the world to share aviation safety information, address current areas of mutual concern and identify future collaborative opportunities with the global community.  

11. 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:

  • 16-17 May 2022: Next TRAN Committee meetings.
  • 11 May 2022: Next ENVI Committee meeting.
  • 2 June 2022: Next Transport Council.
Mark Watts 
UK Transport in Europe (UKTiE)
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