Mark’s EU Week for Transport 
Welcome to Mark’s week! This week I will focus on three main topics:

1.    European Commission launches future of transport consultation

The European Commission has launched a public consultation on the future of transport, the Strategy for Sustainable and Smart Mobility, encouraging both stakeholders and citizens to comment and identify their priorities. The consultation will be open until 23 September. It will enable the Commission to better understand how the EU can help the sector become more sustainable and competitive, more modern and resilient to crises. The new strategy will then be published before the end of the year, replacing the EU’s 2011 Transport White Paper.  A year ago I predicted we would see a new White Paper, and I’m delighted Commissioner for Transport, Adina Vălean has made this work a priority, not just because of COVID-19,  but also the dramatic developments in the fields of digitalisation and decarbonisation require a transport revolution. To facilitate that we need a clear policy and regulatory framework. Alternative fuels (The European Commission’s Hydrogen Strategy will be published on Wednesday and we will produce a Special Report), zero-and low-emission vehicles and vessels, and the roll-out of public recharging and refuelling points will all contribute to a 90% reduction in transport by 2050, that will soon be enshrined in law. And, as I’ve repeatedly said, whatever happens next in terms of the EU-UK relationship, the UK will largely follow this EU policy and regulatory agenda.

2.    As Germany takes helm of European Council, LP Brussels to moderate and speak at key webinar.

On 1 July German took over the Presidency of the European Council under the theme of “Together for Europe’s recovery”. The priority will be the ‘need on the one hand to deal with the consequences of the (COVID-19) crisis, but at the same time also to make Europe more resilient and sustainable.’ Speaking to the Bundestag German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, argued that the EU’s budget needed to be increased match the ambition of the European recovery plan, but also stressed the need for the EU  to show greater global leadership, and  ‘assume more global responsibility at a time when the political climate has become harsher not just in Europe but across the world.’. On transport the Presidency aims to ‘address the environmental challenges of our age while safeguarding the competitiveness of the European transport sector’, and will be seeking to provide guidance for the EU Strategy on Sustainable and Smart Mobility announced by the European Commission.

I’m looking forward to moderating a webinar on the EU recovery plan on Thursday 9 July at  14:00 , organised by the Brussels Group, kicked-off by Telmo Baltazar, Principal Adviser in DG Communication and former Member of the Juncker Cabinet. And we’ll be looking ahead to the German & Portuguese Presidencies, with experts from my fellow Brussels Group members, and the future of the EU-UK relationship, with my LP Brussels colleague Oliver Kaye. Register here.

3.    COVID-19 to disrupt transport for many more months – long term plan needed.

‘Covid-19 is here to stay. People will have to adapt’. That’s the depressing conclusion of the Economist Magazine this week, which cites a report from MIT that says the worst is yet to come: ‘without a medical breakthrough, the total number of cases will climb to 200m-600m by spring 2021. At that point, between 1.4m and 3.7m people will have died. Even then, well over 90% of the world’s population will still be vulnerable to infection—more if immunity turns out to be transient.’ This ‘new normal’ will continue to generate more chaos for the transport and tourism sectors, and even if the EU and UK are tentatively opening borders, the rest of the world is not. This will further delay the economic recovery. It’s not surprising the international aviation body, IATA, are forecasting air travel may not recover 2019 levels until 2023-24.

As I’ve been arguing for some months, we need a conversation about how we’re going to live with COVID-19 and arising out of that conversation we need to develop a long term plan.

Finally, to life our sprits it’s time to reveal song of the week. It’s Hydrogen by M.O.O.N! 

1. Hydrogen strategy – out today!
Today, the European Commission will publish its long-awaited Hydrogen Strategy. We will be publishing a briefing on this strategy which will play a huge role in the discussions around alternative fuels for transport and will play a central role in the Strategy for Sustainable and Smart Mobility, expected in Q4 of 2020.

2. Consultations launched on the Strategy for Sustainable and Smart Mobility and on evaluation the 2011 Transport White Paper
Last week the European Commission launched two consultations, one on the Strategy for Sustainable and Smart Mobility and on evaluating the 2011 Transport White Paper. The consultation on the Strategy for Sustainable and Smart Mobility will run until 23 September and The Commission intends to adopt a comprehensive strategy to meet this target and ensure that the EU transport sector is fit for a clean, digital and modern economy. Objectives of this strategy include: increasing the uptake of zero-emission vehicles, making sustainable alternative solutions available to the public & businesses, supporting digitalisation & automation and improving connectivity & access. The consultation on evaluating the 2011 Transport White Paper will also run until 23 September and will  cover  all  intervention  areas  of  the  2011  White Paper. It will  look  at  the  identified  needs  for transport  policy,  the objectives and goals set, the proposed action points, the outcomes achieved and where applicable their preliminary impacts, as well as the overall political impact of the strategy since it was adopted in 2011 until the end of 2018. This will be the first time that such a comprehensive evaluation of the 2011 White Paper is carried out.

3. MEPs set to navigate shipping into the EU’s carbon market
Euractiv reports that Members of the European Parliament’s ENVI Committee will vote on a package of measures intended to clean up the maritime sector and include shipping in the EU’s Emissions Trading System. The main political groups – EPP, S&D, Renew and Greens – will all back the vote on a key policy report that urges the Commission and Council to agree to a carbon market extension. Shipping’s carbon footprint is regulated by the EU’s monitoring, reporting and verification regulation (MRV). It is currently in the process of being updated and MEPs want to give the rules extra clout in order to force maritime firms to reduce their emissions.

4. Will COVID-19 derail the European Commission’s climate agenda?
UKTiE Deputy Coordinator Ryan Hunter has written a  blog on whether the current COVID-19 crisis will derail the European Commission’s climate agenda. With the COVID-19 crisis taking hold all over Europe and the rest of the world, and it understandably becoming the European Commission top priority, there are questions being asked about the European Commission’s ability to deliver on the ambitious climate agenda present in its Work Programme for 2020. Does it have enough bandwidth, or will it be derailed?

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

  • 1 July 2020 – Deadline for extension of the transition period.
  • 8 July 2020 – Next meeting of the ENVI Committee
  • 13-14 July 2020 – Next meeting of the TRAN Committee
  • 17-18 July 2020 – European Council Summit.
  • 15-16 October 2020 – European Council summit.
  • 10-11 December 2020 – European Council summit.
  • 31 December 2020 – End of current Multi Annual Financial Framework.
  • 31 December 2020 – End of Transition Period (tbc).
Mark Watts
UK transport in Europe (UKTiE)

No responses yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *