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Plus ça change – transport spending ready for its close-up?

While all eyes in Brussels are usually focused on three leading actors – the Commission, Parliament and Council – there are several other lesser-known EU institutions playing supporting roles. In the wings we have the EU Court of Auditors, which has repeatedly published scathing – and revealing – reviews on the use of EU funds for transport infrastructure. But will the stars of the EU show listen to their critics before the spotlight is turned on the new transport spending policies?

Proposal on reducing aid to aviation leaves distortions

The Commission has published proposals aimed at reducing the amount of taxpayers’ money that goes to airports and airlines. However, the fine print of what is initially a consultation means small airports will continue to receive massive subsidies that often make their way to low-fares airlines, even when such subsidies distort competition between airlines. The consultation is important, because when it is complete the Commission can implement its preferred solution without consulting MEPs.

Environment Committee steers EU biofuels in a sustainable direction

There is light at the end of the tunnel after the Parliament’s Environment Committee voted today in favour of full accounting of indirect emissions (ILUC) [1] from biofuels that can count toward both the EU’s 6% carbon reduction target in transport fuels and the 10% renewable energy target in transport by 2020 [2]. This vote aligns EU policy with the most robust science available today and will stop the growing consumption of some biofuels that increase greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional fuels. More importantly, it will promote the production of genuinely emissions reducing transport fuels such as advanced biofuels and renewable electricity for electric vehicles.

Commission defends €3bn annual subsidies for low-cost airlines

The European Commission today published new draft guidelines [1] that will allow regional airports and EU carriers serving them to keep receiving subsidies worth €3bn a year. In a good number of cases [2] these rules prop up unprofitable regional airports and low-cost carriers, allowing them to continue to operate in an unsustainable way which distorts competition between budget and national carriers.  The proposed guidelines also permit the bail out of financially unviable operations for a decade and allow infrastructure aid for building new airports to continue in aeternum.

Consultation response: 2030 climate and energy policy for transport

Sketch of a book (default image for publications

This paper is a response from Transport & Environment to the consultation in the context of the European Commission Green Paper ‘A 2030 framework for climate and energy policies’. The response focuses on the framework for EU climate and energy policies in transport.

Auto-sector innovation could create millions of jobs by 2030 and help revitalize Europe’s growth

Europe could improve its growth prospects and create 500,000 to 1.1 million net additional jobs in 2030 through auto sector innovation. Increased technology to cut fuel consumption would allow the EU to reduce its dependence on foreign oil and deliver between €58 and €83 billion a year in fuel savings for the EU economy by 2030. This shift will achieve the double bonus of mitigating climate change and creating a much-needed economic stimulus.

Europe can and should use its trade muscle for the green cause

Suddenly Karel de Gucht is the most talked-about figure in Brussels. The Belgian trade commissioner is very busy. He is trying to finish a free trade deal with Canada; his boss and Obama are pressing for a deal with the US to be next.  And then there is China – where the direction is towards less, not more, free trade. The EU has just imposed an anti-dumping 12% tariff on Chinese solar panels, with a threat to go to 47%. In its response, China is trying to play the usual divide-and-rule tactic by threatening tariffs on wine (annoying for the French), and luxury cars (annoying for the Germans).

MEPs support sustainability and unsustainability at the same time

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.

MEPs' transport wish list contradicts smarter spending aims

Environmental NGOs from the ‘Coalition for sustainable EU funds’ [1] warn that today’s European Parliament votes on future EU transport spending contradict MEPs' own ambitions for more sustainable spending by approving a Christmas wish list including damaging projects. [2]

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