Efforts to reduce traffic noise across Europe suffered a setback earlier this month when MEPs voted to weaken current noise limits for sports cars and lorries. The outcome of the vote hinders moves to bring EU vehicle noise levels into line with World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations for safe limits. T&E says MEPs have put pressure by the automotive industry ahead of the health of citizens.
The EU transport commissioner Siim Kallas has floated the idea of the EU legislating to oblige member states to provide more charging points for electric vehicles. The proposal came as part of a ‘Clean Power for Transport’ package launched last month that looks to encourage a greater take-up of alternative-fuel vehicles by the public. T&E said it was ‘a small but largely welcome step’ in the right direction.
Opinion by our Director, Jos Dings
A new year has come, full of new challenges and opportunities. Fortunately, for now, Europe seems to have averted the worst emergencies. This should allow for some less ad-hoc and more strategic thinking about recipes to get ourselves out of the woods.
MEPs are voting for more sustainability with one hand and unsustainable projects with the other. That is the message from a group of NGOs after MEPs voted to strengthen sustainability safeguards for infrastructure projects that could receive EU funding, but at the same time voted to support certain transport projects that will take Europe further away from its sustainability goals.
The World Carfree Network has written to the Commission to express concern about the future of cross-border rail services after a mass of cutbacks in international trains. It says the new timetable that came into effect on 9 December saw an end to all direct trains between Barcelona and Milan, Barcelona and Zurich, Bucharest and Belgrade, and Brussels and The Hague. There are also severe cutbacks in other transnational services, notably in the six countries of the former Yugoslavia.
"The role of the Commission in advancing the road pricing agenda cannot be underestimated", T&E Director Jos Dings stated at the Conference on fair and efficient road pricing organised by the European Commission on 5 Dec:
Road pricing is progressing because the list of its advantages is impressive. No wonder ever more countries in Europe are choosing for road user charging, and we are having a conference about its future.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation (Icao) has recognised that a global market-based measure to tackle aviation’s contribution to climate change is technically feasible. T&E has said this is an important step, as it now means the only obstacle to global action on aviation emissions is political will. The EU has moved to improve the negotiating climate by proposing a delay of one year in the requirement for flights to and from the EU to comply with its Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).
MEPs have supported the Commission’s intention to have 20% of the 2014-20 EU budget spent on actions to fight climate change.