Urban Transport


In September 2007, the Commission presented the outlines of a new 'urban strategy', which lays out a large range of potential solutions and areas where the EU could take action in order to tackle the growing congestion, pollution and safety problems in Europe's cities.

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Cities generate 75-85% of the EU’s GDP. Creating a high-quality urban environment is a priority of the 
renewed Lisbon Strategy
– to "make Europe a more attractive place to invest and work" – in order to enhance its potential for economic growth and job creation. 

But many European cities are suffering heavily from congestion and other nuisances, such as high levels of pollution, noise, and accidents, largely caused by excessive use of the private car. 

Indeed, 75% of the journeys undertaken in metropolitan areas are done by car. And total kilometres travelled in EU urban areas are expected to increase by 40% between 1995 and 2030, with significant consequences for the health and quality of life of city-dwellers and the economic performance of the cities themselves. 

The Commission's 2001 
White Paper on Transport
aspired to change the direction of EU transport policy to deal with these challenges. It set the aim of breaking the link between growth in transport and economic growth, shifting towards more sustainable transport modes (intermodality), such as railways and water transport, and modernising public transport (see LinksDossier on Transport White Paper). 

The June 2006 Sustainable Development Strategy committed to the same objectives. But the Commission's 
mid-term review of the White Paper
, also adopted in June 2006, makes no reference to curbing overall transport growth, instead advocating the "decoupling of transport growth from its negative effects". 

In 2006, the Commission also adopted a 
Thematic Strategy on the Urban Environment
, in the framework of its 6th Environment Action Programme (6th EAP). The strategy identifies urban transport as an area that can significantly contribute to achieving policy objectives in areas such as climate change, energy efficiency, congestion, alternative fuels, modal split, road safety, industrial competitiveness, environment, health and social inclusion.