• Revised EU transport policy is ‘unsustainable and illegitimate’

    The Commission has approved a revised Common Transport Policy (CTP) that contradicts the EU’s sustainable development strategy published just six days earlier. The juxtaposition of the two documents led T&E to describe the new CTP as “unsustainable and illegitimate”.

    EU heads of government last month agreed a revised EU sustainability strategy. It contains “operational objectives and targets” for sustainable transport in eight areas, including climate change, energy use, air and noise pollution. As part of this, it defines objectives to break the link between economic growth and the growth of transport.

    Six days later, the revised CTP paper was approved by the 25 commissioners. Not only does it fail to mention the sustainability strategy’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transport, and reducing levels of air and noise pollution to levels acceptable for health and the environment, but it has abandoned the commitment to breaking the link between economic and transport growth that was a cornerstone of the original 2001 CTP white paper.

    T&E director Jos Dings said: “It is bizarre and wrong that the Commission has put out a revised transport strategy that ignores objectives set by EU leaders only six days ago. Apparently the Commission finds the wishes of Europe’s transport industry more important than those of our political leaders who rightly take a broader perspective.”

    Fears that the revised CTP would also abandon the EU’s commitment to a modal shift from road and air to rail and water have only partly been realised. The revised strategy does not abandon the principle of a modal shift, but the target of increasing rail freight to 1998 levels has been dropped.

    The transport commissioner Jacques Barrot said: “We will continue to work with the modal shift approach, particularly on long-distance transport.” But speaking about the Eurovignette rules on road user charging, he added: “We are also going to make sure rail takes a greater share of the market, but that does not mean we are going to reduce traffic from other modes.”

    The revised CTP now goes to the European Parliament.

    This news story is taken from the July 2006 edition of T&E Bulletin.