The European Commission has told Hungary that it may have to pay back money given from EU funds for the expansion of the Budapest metro network because a condition of the grant – the introduction of a congestion charge in the city – has not been met. T&E says the credibility of the rule of law is at stake over the issue.
The mayor of London and representatives of other British cities have called for a ban on sales of petrol and diesel cars to be introduced in 2030 – 10 years earlier than the earlier announcement by the UK government. Their call comes as a court in Germany has ruled that banning diesels from a historic city is a legitimate way to combat air pollution, and Milan has taken the first step towards banning diesels from the city by 2025.
The European Commission has announced a commitment to spending at least 60% of the EU’s cross-border infrastructure fund on schemes that help the fight against climate change. T&E has largely welcomed the announcement, though it criticised the proposal to count EU funding for gas projects towards the climate spending goals.
Some 97% of Spain’s population is being exposed to harmful levels of air pollution, a report by T&E’s Spanish member Ecologistas en Acción shows. The economic recovery has brought an increase in the use of diesel for cars, airplane jet fuel, and coal to generate electricity. The main source of pollution in urban areas, where most of the population lives, is road traffic.
Six EU countries are being taken to court for failing to tackle repeated breaches of air quality limits. T&E said the legal action by the European Commission is a long-overdue and welcome step. Germany, France and the UK face penalties for years of allowing breaches of limits on toxic NO2 emissions while Italy, Romania and Hungary failed to tackle harmful and illegal levels of particulates (PM10). Spain, however, has got away with a warning.
With Paris going to host the 2024 Olympic games, it’s ramping up plans for a shared and autonomous vehicle future. Sometimes seen as a 19th century pre-car capital, the city of light could become the world’s first post-car metropolis. By 2020 all diesel cars will be banned and, by the time the games roll into town, driverless taxis should be making ride after ride – freeing up precious parking space.
Efforts to expose Europe’s rail companies to more competition have moved a step forward, with the EU’s Fourth Rail Package being approved by MEPs. The measure was controversial in some respects, but T&E has given the news a cautious welcome.