Mark’s EU Week for Transport 
After a busy last two weeks, we finally have a new European Commission and a new Transport Commissioner. Following last week’s successful confirmation vote in the European Parliament, the new European Commission officially took office yesterday. With a lot of ambitious promises to keep and a tight timeframe to maintain, the new Commission will look to hit the ground running. We could see the framework of one of its biggest legislative endeavors emerge as early as next week. It has been confirmed that the European Commission intends to publish a Communication on the European Green Deal on December 11th, ahead of the European Council on the December 12th-13th and the Madrid COP25 conference that ends on December 13th. This communication is expected to lay out, at quite a high level, what the Commission will undertake in each sector to achieve the European Green Deal (more on what this could mean for transport below).

The publication of this document so soon after the start of their mandate is a clear indication that this Commission intends to lay down an early marker for how it intends to carry on for the next five years. Following the publication of this communication on the European Green Deal, we can expect work to immediately begin, if it has not already begun, on a host of transport-relevant files such as an Alternative Fuel Directive, extending the ETS into Maritime, and proposing a comprehensive strategy for sustainable and smart mobility.

The pace of developments in Brussels over the coming weeks and months is likely to be quite frantic and will require paying close attention to both the Commission’s environmental and transport legislative priorities once these get confirmed in the weeks ahead.

This week’s song of the week, is So It Begins by GoGo Penguin.

1. New European Commission’s transport priorities in the European Green Deal
Last week saw a leaked version of the draft communication on the European Green Deal emerge. Although this document remains very much a draft, it clearly outlines some of the key transport priorities that the Commission will seek to tackle through the European Green Deal. The document states that the Commission intends to do the following: 

– Adopt a comprehensive strategy for sustainable and smart mobility addressing all sources of emissions in the transport sector. This will support the shift to rail, with the Commission expecting 75% road transport to shift to rail and inland waterways. This will also include developing and deploying alternative infrastructure and fuels.
– Propose to extend the Emissions Trading Scheme into the Maritime sector.
– Analyse the possibility of including road transport in the Emissions Trading Scheme to complement existing and future strengthened CO2 emissions performance standards for vehicles.
– Withdraw and resubmit ambitious proposals on Eurovignette and Combined Mobility Directive to give fresh impetus to effective road pricing in the EU.

The European Commission intends for much of this work to either finish or achieve significant progress in 2020. These will be confirmed when the official communication next week on December 11th and further details will be confirmed when the official Commission work programme is published in early Q1 2020.

2. Next TRAN Committee
The next TRAN Committee meeting will be tomorrow (December 3rd). The meeting will have an exchange of views with Maja Markovčić Kostelac, Executive Director of the European Maritime Safety Agency, a presentation of  study titled ‘EU funding of transport projects’. The TRAN Committee will also be holding a hearing into the future of low-cost air travel. 

3. Transport Council
Today is the meeting of the Transport Council at which the Council hopes to agree its positions on the following files:

– Revising rail passengers’ rights.
– Streamlining permit-granting measures to facilitate the completion of the trans-European transport network (TEN-T).
– Updating EU road charging rules (Eurovignette) to address issues relating to road infrastructure financing, congestion and environmental impact.

This meeting will serve as an opportunity for the Finnish Presidency to reflect on progress achieved during its Presidency and will provide an early indication of the leftover legislative files that could be picked up by the incoming Croatian Presidency. 

4. Road safety must be a top priority for new Transport Commissioner

UKTiE Coordinator Mark Watts’ new blog on why road safety needs to be a top priority for new Transport Commissioner, Adina Valean. Mark writes that in Europe over 25,000 people are killed every year in road traffic crashes, it’s the equivalent of a jumbo jet a week crashing. We do not put up with it in aviation, so why do we tolerate it on the roads? 

5. UKTiE has also put together the latest timetable for Brexit. We will keep this up to date as the process develops:

  • 29 March 2017 – A50 triggered.
  • 5 April 2017 – European Parliament adopted Brexit guidelines.
  • 22 May 2017 – Brexit negotiating directives approved by Council.
  • 19 June 2017 –  Negotiations formally began.
  • 23 March 2018– European Council agreed guidelines on the future trading relationship.
  • 23-26 May 2019 – European Parliament election.
  • 2-3 December 2019 – Next ENVI Committee Meetings
  • 3 December 2019 – Next TRAN Committee Meeting
  • 12 December 2019  – UK General Election.
  • 31 January 2019 – The UK will formally leave the EU. (tbc)
  • 31 December 2020 – End of Transition Period (tbc).
Mark Watts
UK transport in Europe (UKTiE)

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