Transport: EU delivers strong signal of intent


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In our initial article on transport we outlined how the transport sector could be about to enter significant change which is likely to bring about many commercial opportunities. 
This article concentrates on a Communication made by the European Commission on 25th February 2015. This Communication is a very strong signal of intent on the part of the European Commission with respect to necessary change in the transport sector. 


There is obviously a very strong interface between the transport sector and the energy sector. Clearly the transport sector cannot operate without energy. The Communication handed down by the EU Commission relates to an Energy Union Package but key parts relate to transport. The Communication is entitled “A Framework Strategy for a Resilient Energy Union with a Forward-Looking Climate Change Policy” . 

Recognition of the importance of transport

The EU Commission recognises the importance of transport within energy policy. This is because the EU Commission estimates that 94% of transport relies on oil-products (of which 90% is imported into the EU) and because the transport sector is responsible for a large proportion of  Europe’s C02 emissions. These are two of the drivers referred to in our earlier article. As the Communication relates to energy, it is understandable that the other drivers for change in the transport sector are not included in this Communication.

Energy Efficiency and decarbonisation

These are some of the actions signalled by the EU Commission in terms of transport:

  • Continued focus on CO2 emissions from passenger cars and vans post 2020 and on fuel efficiency and emissions from heavy duty vehicles and buses. This may mean further legislation should be expected.
  • Better traffic management. Note this is mentioned in terms of cutting C02 emissions but of course traffic management is an important issue relating to public health and productivity. ICT will be critical to the success of many future traffic management systems.
  • Use of road charging systems based on polluter pays and user pays principles. Again ICT is likely to be highly relevant here.
  • Increase efforts to create a single European transport area.
  • Remove barriers to less greenhouse gas intensive modes of transport. Make these more attractive and cost efficient. 
  •  Increased deployment and development of alternative fuels.
  • Gradual transformation to an entirely decarbonised transport sector. 

In real terms most of the above endorses EU policies that have been signalled in other policy documents in recent years. We will return to these in a little more detail in a subsequent article.


The European Commission’s position is that electrification is important to break oil dependency and decarbonise (especially relating to rail and short and medium distance road transport). In the opinion of the European Commission Europe needs to speed up electrification of its car fleet and other means of transport and become a leader in electro-mobility and energy storage technologies. 

Innovation and wider economic benefits

This is a major aspect of the EU Commission’s thinking.  In wider economic and social terms, the renewables sector (and other climate change initiatives) has given rise to significant innovation, economic growth and job creation. The EU Commission appears to be keen to keep maintain and increase these benefits. It intends to set 4 key priorities in this regard. One of these four priorities relates to the transport sector.  This is expressed as follows “More sustainable transport systems that develop and deploy at large scale innovative technologies and services to  increase energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gases”. 

Action Points

The European Commission sets out 15 action points. One of these (broken down into two parts) expressly relates to transport. The overall action is to speed up energy efficiency and decarbonisation in the transport sector, its progressive switch to alternative fuels and the integration of the energy and transport systems. The two parts of the action are:

  • The Commission will propose a comprehensive road transport package promoting more efficient pricing of infrastructure, the roll-out of intelligent transport solutions and enhancing energy efficiency.
  • The Commission will take further action to create the right market conditions for an increased deployment of alternative fuels and to further promote procurement of clean vehicles. This will be delivered through a mix of national, regional and local measures, supported by the EU.

More to come

Clearly the European Commission is intent on bringing forward significant developments in law and policy applicable to the transport sector. It remains to be seen whether and in what terms this will take place. However it is easier to see what the developments might be if we look back at other recent policy documents at the EU level. We will review these policy documents in a subsequent article.