UK TRANSPORT AND BREXIT NEWS & VIEWS NO. 164

Mark’s EU Week for Transport 

Mark speaking at the Global LNG Bunkering Summit in Amsterdam

Watts Up!  

I’m currently engaging with transport industry stakeholders, visiting places as diverse as Amsterdam and Athens, on a mission to explain what is going on in the UK, Europe and globally in terms of global trends, but also in terms of future transport regulation. I’m shocked by the massive and unprecedented gap that is emerging between regulators and those that are regulated, and the tremendous appetite for an improved two-way dialogue.

As Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum (Davos) said:
‘We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before. We do not yet know just how it will unfold, but one thing is clear: the response to it must be integrated and comprehensive, involving all stakeholders of the global polity, from the public and private sectors to academia and civil society.’

Unfortunately, I am hearing we are not involving all stakeholders, so our response to the so-called ‘fourth industrial revolution’ cannot be as integrated and comprehensive as it needs to be, and risks leaving people, communities and companies behind. In short because industry and government are not satisfactorily communicating, we risk developing bad not better regulation.  We risk not tackling the very challenges we know will engulf us if we don’t take appropriate action.

And the pace of change and the scale of the challenge has of course been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the climate crisis and the economic impact of the consequential cost of living crisis, and yet the effectiveness of stakeholder involvement has unfortunately diminished.

Regulators are understandably dipping into theregulatory toolbox to find even more urgent and dramatic solutions, from the EU’s Fit for 55 Package to the UK’s Transport Decarbonisation Plan, but industry just can’t keep up with the complexity, scope or volume of these proposals.

So we need to find new and better ways for industry and government to communicate. Davos, ITF, COP, The Conference on the Future of Europe help, and the whole myriad of public consultations help, but they are not effective enough.

May I suggest four things:
•    An unprecedented moratorium on new regulations for twelve months so we can focus on agreeing or implementing the ones we already have;
•    A fresh effort by governments and regulators to simplify and explain every single new proposal currently under development;
•    A new push by industry to politicians to explain what in simple terms they need from government (or don’t need) in order to deliver on our digitalisation and decarbonisation goals;
•    A greater commitment by everyone to think outside our solos to co-ordinate where possible to ensure our actions are integrated and comprehensive.

It’s not because we do not want regulation. Quite the opposite. Most of us have shared ideals and shared goals. We want regulation that works to help deliver them.

Finally, the song of the week has to be Communication Breakdown by Led Zeppelin.

1. EP TRAN publishes draft report on the action plan to boost long-distance and cross-border passenger rail 
The action plan provides a roadmap and further actions in order to make long-distance and cross-border passenger rail a more attractive travel option for passengers in the EU, with the aim of doubling high-speed rail traffic by 2030 and removing barriers and missing links. The plan will contribute to the achievement of a wide set of objectives, including the creation of a safe and fully interoperable Single European Railway System, the improvement of sustainability, the promotion of multimodal ticketing, the creation of jobs, the boost of the connectivity, with a particular attention to remote regions, island, mountainous areas, less populated zones. Additional key elements are the protection of passengers’ rights, the equal accessibility, the improvement of the efficiency of transports, the reduction of travelling times and prices, the promotion of a fair competitiveness among rail operators and between different modes of transport and the need of a full involvement of youth.

2EP ENVI votes to ban sale of polluting vehicles from 2035 
The Environmental Committee in the European Parliament has voted to uphold a proposed ban on the sale of polluting vehicles from 2035 but narrowly rejected proposals for stricter 2030 targets on cars and vans. Efforts to insert a 2027 interim targets to bridge the gap between the 20% cut required by 2025 and the 55% reduction requirement in 2030 was rejected by MEPs.

3. European Commission adopts contingency plan for transport to strengthen resilience in times of crisis  
The plan draws lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic as well as taking into account the challenges the EU transport sector has been facing since the beginning of the Russian war on Ukraine. The plan proposes a toolbox of 10 actions to guide the EU and its Member States when introducing such emergency crisis-response measures. The 10 areas of action are (1) Making EU transport laws fit for crisis situations (2) Ensuring adequate support for the transport sector (3) Ensuring free movement of goods, services and people (4) Managing refugee flows and repatriating stranded passengers and transport workers (5) Ensuring minimum connectivity and passenger protection (6) Sharing transport information (7) Strengthening transport policy coordination (8) Strengthening cybersecurity (9) Testing transport contingency (10) Cooperation with international partners.

4. EP ENVI votes in favour of major overhaul to ETS 
The EU Emission Trading System (ETS) obliges airlines to buy allowances for each tonne of CO2 they emit, but at present this only applies to intra-EU flights. Under revised rules recently voted in by ENVI, flights outside the of Europe would also fall under the EU ETS. International aviation emissions are covered by the UN’s CORSIA, a global carbon offsetting scheme, which is considerably less stringent than the EU carbon market. In practice, airlines would be obliged to pay for both EU carbon allowances and the cost of offsetting under CORSIA. They would then receive a credit for the amount paid to CORSIA which could be deducted from the ETS bill, to prevent double charging.

5. Face masks obligation dropped in European airports and on airplanes
The obligation to wear face masks in airports and on flights was dropped in the EU since May 16 after an announcement from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). Rules for wearing masks are expected to vary after the mandatory requirement is lifted, with airlines told to encourage passengers to use masks on flights to or from destinations where wearing a mask on public transport is still required, the agencies said.

6. EU Commission to create easier Schengen visa application procedure through digitalisation 
The move would see the replacement of the visa sticker and introduce the possibility of submitting visa applications online through the EU online visa platform. The New Pact on Migration and Asylum set the objective to fully digitalize visa procedures by the year 2025. It is hoped the digitalisation will improve the process by reducing the costs and the burden on the Member States and applicants while improving security in the EU.

7.  Upcoming events 

30 May – 1 June 2022: International Railway Summit (Berlin)

  • This event will bring together the best in sustainable mobility recognised by the global rail community.

30 May 2022: Smart Rail Innovation Program 2022-2025 (online)

  • The event will take place from 1.00-3.00 PM EST. For more information please see this link.

1 June 2022: Decarbonizing Shipping (Copenhagen)

  • Topics to be debated include how far is the shipping industry in decarbonizations efforts, what are the challenges ahead and how can they be solved, how can regulators push the development and what can end users and shippers do.
  • More information and registration is available at this link.

06-10 June 2022: World Congress on Railway Research 2022 (Birmingham)

  • This event will discuss how we can reshape European railways post-pandemic. Europe’s rail will be hosting two masterclasses showcasing cutting edge research from in collaboration with the world’s leading railway undertakings and research bodies.
  • More information and registration is available at this link.

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.

8.  Public Consultations 

  1. Sustainable transport – revision of Combined Transport Directive

The CTD supports the shift from road freight to lower emission transport modes such as inland waterways, marine transport and rail.
Feedback period: 07 March – 30 May 2022.

  1. Trans-European transport network (TEN-T) – revised guidelines

EU policy on transport infrastructure aims to facilitate transport across Europe and reduce regional, economic and social disparities by developing interconnected infrastructure for air, road, rail and shipping. This initiative will revise these guidelines.
Feedback period: 16 December 2021 – 14 July 2022.

  1. International freight and passenger transport – increasing the share of rail traffic

This initiative will propose measures to better manage, coordinate and thereby increase the capacity of railways.
Feedback period: 30 March 2022 – 22 June 2022.

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:

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