The European Parliament is divided on the review. EPP-ED MEPs, Georg Jarzembowski and Ari Vatanen, believe the Commission has moved towards a more realistic and feasible policy by moving away from the concept of “modal shift” and towards that of “co-modality”. They welcome the acknowledgement of the importance of road and air transport.
The Greens/EFA group, on the other hand, accuse the Commission of stepping back on its commitment to a sustainable transport policy by abandoning the “modal shift” from road to rail. MEPs Eva Lichtenberger and Michael Cramer say the proposal to promote all transport modes will be detrimental to sustainability, health and the environment.
An own-initiative report by Hungarian MEP Etelka Barsi-Partaky (EPP-ED) supports the view that the modal shift must remain a priority but states that Europe's transport policy will in any case remain weak unless member states speed up implementation of EU laws and if no new alternative and innovative means of financing for infrastructure are proposed.
The International Road Transport Union (IRU) welcomes the Commission’s move away from a policy of forced modal shift and its recognition of the important economic role of road transport. However, it laments the under-investment in new road infrastructure under the TENs programme. It criticizes the idea of “smart charging” for increasing costs for transport enterprises and consumers and urges more attention for Europe’s cleanest, safest and most common mode of transport – buses.
The association of European Rail Infrastructure Managers (EIM) warns against moving away from the modal shift in favour of co-modality as this will hinder the move towards more environmentally friendly modes of transport such as rail. Instead, it urges the Commission to bring forward its smart charging agenda. It also supports the Commission’s intention to enforce EU legislation on rail liberalisation through infringement procedures as this will lead to strong benefits for customers.
The European Federation for Transport and Environment (T&E) says that the revised European transport policy is unsustainable, fails to set clear objectives for reducing pollutant and noise emissions, and completely ignores the health and environment objectives set out just six days earlier in the EU ‘Sustainable Development Strategy’ (See Euractiv 19 June 2006).