The European Union relies on foreign companies to supply 80% of its oil imports, according to a new study on the continent’s oil dependency. Russian firms supply more than one-third (36%) of imported crude, and just two of the top 10 oil suppliers to the EU are European – Shell and Norway’s Statoil.
The race to electrify mobility took an important step forward with a series of announcements from German carmakers on new electric cars and trucks. This coincided with a strong signal from the European Commission, through its Low-Emission Mobility Strategy, that electric vehicles, and not diesel-powered ones, have the principal role in decarbonising transport.
An agreement between EU governments and the European Parliament on the so-called ‘market pillar’ of the fourth railway package means the plan to open up domestic passenger rail to competition from 2020 will be ratified in autumn 2016 and countries will then have three years to implement it.
A Portuguese regional airport that was expanded with large amounts of EU funding has announced plans to turn itself into an aircraft parking facility because demand for the airport has fallen badly short of predictions. The case highlights T&E’s call for greater scrutiny of public money being used to prop up carbon-intensive, underutilised infrastructure with questionable social and economic benefits.
A controversy is growing in Germany about future funding mechanisms for building and maintaining roads. The federal government and the 16 state governments are looking at new financing options involving the private sector, but T&E’s member VCD has criticised the direction in which the discussions are going, saying they take no account of the need to fight climate change and changing transport trends.
On 28 February, the Swiss go to the polls in a referendum that could have major implications for north-south goods transport in Europe. The vote itself is whether to build a second road tunnel through the Gotthard Alpine mountain between the towns of Göschenen and Airolo, but T&E’s two Swiss members are making the case that the issue is much bigger than that.
Better regulation. Who would not want to win this most elusive of prizes for the art of governing? As far back as 2002 (at least, that’s as far as our memory goes back) the Commission has been saying it does. You can argue over whether it has been sincere. At least this Commission has been honest; Juncker himself settled the debate by declaring it’s about less regulation. How naive we were to think it was about quality not quantity.