- CO2 Emissions
- Air Quality
- Noise Reduction
- CO2 Emissions
- Fuels & Oils
- Road Safety
- Industry and Economy
- Regulation and Standards
- Intellectual Property
- Research and Development
- Transport and Mobility
- Trucks, Vans and Buses
- ACEA Members
- Production Plants
- EUCAR Website
European Transport Policy - Roads continue to deliver
Policy objectives must credit economic growth, social welfare as well as environmental protection
The road transport sector is both the lifeblood of and a major contributor to the European economy. Road transport fulfils the overwhelming majority of transport needs for companies and individuals, delivering the goods we take for granted in our homes and workplaces, and the services upon which the business community relies.
Transport Policy concerns the regulatory frameworks that affect the use of transport modes, be they road, sea, air or rail, rather than rules that prescribe product design or technology. European Transport Policy was developed as a consequence of the emergence of a single market in the 1990s and framed around the three pillars of sustainability: economic growth, social welfare and environmental protection.
However, from the outset goals of economic growth and competitiveness – foundations of the Lisbon Strategy – were taken too much for granted, as if not in need for further development and improvement. It remains important to redress the imbalance. At this challenging time, auto makers continue to reiterate the imperative of economic growth and social development when framing new Transport Policy proposals.
Europe’s roads are like veins through which economic activity flows. Yet, in the past, policy makers have been neglecting the health of this vital network. Congestion, bottlenecks and massive underinvestment in road transport infrastructure have conspired to hinder competitiveness, while undermining progress towards wider environmental goals and safety objectives.
The automobile industry is giving active input to the new revision of Europe’s Transport Policy, expected to be defined in the next Commission’s term. Manufacturers welcome that the Commission has timely started the preparation of this review, ahead of the expiring of the ten-year scope of the 2001 White Paper.
One of the fundamental tenets of the 2001 Transport White Paper was the concept of modal shift, the idea that modes other than road transport should be encouraged for the sake of the environment. It also promoted de-coupling road transport from economic growth. Both concepts turned out to be insufficient as a basis for a workable transport policy.
The Commission’s mid-term review, presented in 2006, served the development of a better basis for Europe’s Transport Policy. In particular, it acknowledged that transport must be considered within an overarching framework of sustainable economic growth, and that all transport modes must improve efficiency as well as working together.
It presented co-modality, a more positive basis for future policy than modal shift, and revised the concept of de-coupling transport from economic growth. This represented a step in the right direction, acknowledging the importance of road transport to Europe’s economic prosperity. ACEA is now closely monitoring the implementation of more specific policy measures, in particular the Commission’s Greening Transport Package adopted in July 2008.
ACEA encourages underpinning future policy objectives on sound assessments of their possible impact, and to base scenarios and assumptions on scientific data. The auto industry also urges the early consultation with all relevant stakeholders involved and to make use of their expert knowledge.
The road ahead
In its 2006 revision and in the upcoming review of the White Paper, the Commission has clearly opened the way for a more realistic approach to transport policy. However, the EU must now decisively move towards a transport policy based on efficiency rather than modes.
The industry remains concerned by the often implicit but persistent preconceptions about road transport, which can lead to unrealistic and ineffective policy objectives and measures. One example is the widespread belief that some modes are by default better from an environmental point of view than others.
The reality is different, as this depends to a great extent on the utilisation of a mode’s maximum capacity. This, in turn, depends on the volume and the weight of transported goods, the need for loading and unloading, the density of its network, the source of energy, the energy need from a loaded vehicle compared with when unloaded and specific needs of the commodity to be transported.
Modes and means of transport complement each other
Another common perception is that all modes of transport compete with each other. Fact is that some modes are in competition for transport of certain commodities but that, in general, modes serve the economy in a complementary way.
One way of identifying which modes compete, is to look at the value of the goods that are transported by the different modes. Existing analyses of transport within the EU demonstrate that the value of the goods is an important criteria for the selection of the mode to be used by the customer.
A closer look at passenger transport, furthermore, shows that individual and collective transport offer different services and therefore fulfil different needs. They are not, as too often assumed, communicating vessels. Public transport plays without any doubt a crucial supportive role, mainly on mainstream routes. Its role can be enhanced if its service is further adapted to the needs of its users (comfort, flexibility, modal integration, etc.).
A forced modal shift policy based on traffic restrictions and increased costs for individual transport will lead to a high loss of welfare without the expected benefits for mobility and quality of life.
Regarding public transport, the European Commission should investigate the various market obstacles, promote full and open access to operators and press for competition in the sector.
Need for investments
In addition, the decline in investment in infrastructure, which has fallen from 1.5% of GDP in the 1980s to less than 1% today, must be reversed. The auto sector generates more than €378 billion in tax revenues each year. Europe should be funding key transport projects that will not only modernise Europe’s infrastructure, but will also help reduce negative environmental impacts and will create millions of jobs by improving existing and developing smarter new infrastructure, especially roads.
Europe should not be lagging behind other leading economies: it needs more Community funding for key transport projects.
In the Spotlight
Part of the Greening Transport Package included a communication on the Strategy for Internalisation of External Costs. This introduced the concept of charging as an effective means of regulating traffic flow and influencing modal spread. Auto makers have questioned evidence that road pricing would improve European competitiveness and auto makers believe the methodology used to calculate costs that would apply to users is highly insufficient.
The proposal continues to place a disproportionate burden on road transport and does not include a cost-benefit analysis comparing internalisation of external costs with other strategies.
The auto sector believes that, if charging is to be considered as part of long-term Transport Policy, it must be applied to all transport modes. Double charging must be avoided. Fairness and transparency are basic principles to be respected. Charging systems must also be simple and revenue neutral with funds hypothecated to reduce the external cost for which the charge has been applied. Cross-subsidisation, where revenues from road transport are used to support other transport modes, is unacceptable.
The development of transport logistics is broadly a matter for industry which strives to reduce costs and improve efficiency. Commercial, technical, operational and institutional problems must be addressed within the context of different markets.
However, ACEA members argue that some steps can be taken by the Commission to promote better logistics and cut unnecessary emissions, including thorough impact assessments of the potential for measures. Further promotion of the modular concept – which would involve increasing permitted goods’ vehicle weights and dimensions - would have an immediate positive effect on transport efficiency, road safety and the environment. It would also move Europe closer toward inter-modal road-rail transport solutions.
3 Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS)
ACEA members will actively contribute to the policy objectives behind the Intelligent Transport Systems Action Plan which was approved by the Commission in December 2008. It aims to accelerate and coordinate the deployment of ITS in road transport, including interfaces with other transport modes. Intelligent Information and Communication technologies will play a major role in bringing such projects forward and participating in the ITS Advisory Group. In each of these areas, the industry will pursue basic principles of competitiveness. Progress will depend upon political will and collective effort from all stakeholders.
Market penetration of new systems is low and questions, like investment in set-up costs and technological deployment across the vehicle fleet, will have to be addressed. Legal issues, data protection and public acceptance must also be considered. The industry supports the European Statement of Principles (ESOP) for safe integration as a voluntary approach but does not see the need for a regulatory framework on a safe on-board Human- Machine-Interface (HMI). Market driven, technology-leading systems, like ESC and ACC, have already been introduced and deliver competitive advantage without the need for regulation. Efforts to fast-track new regulation in the field of ITS are particularly unwelcome at this challenging time, raising the spectre of unnecessary costs for industry and price increases for consumers.
4 Urban Transport
Answers to urban transport questions are local not national responsibilities, due to the diversity of policy responsibility, administrative structures and financial responsibilities. The industry is not clear that policy focus at European level adds value, and the Commission must recognize the issue of subsidiarity.
While currently awaiting a Commission Action Plan, ACEA members argue that traffic measures can be applied to local issues without resort to complicated and expensive access restriction measures and congestion charging. These can damage businesses and affect quality of life for residents. Vehicles are least efficient when stuck in a traffic jam or when stand unnecessarily at a red light, and the priority should be the optimisation of traffic flows.
Profile of the Road Transport Sector
- 580,000 haulage companies
- 95% with fewer than 10 employees
- Cabotage – 1.2% of total national road transport
- 280,000 passenger transport companies
- 500 billion passenger-km by bus and coach annually
last updated 19/05/2009
Market & Economy
- Diesel Emissions Conference, & Adblue Forum 2013 Europe, 18-20 June 2013. ACEA members get a 20% discount on the registration fee.
Recent and Past Events
- ACEA Annual Transport Policy Event 2012: How Can Policy Reflect Changing Transport Demands? 6 December 2012,Brussels. Click here for more...
- Our Future Mobility Now "Innovation for Europe, Skills for the Future" Roundtable 10 October 2012. Click here for more...