The Finn rally driver and MEP has launched a methodical attack on EU plans to promote alternatives to road transport for being too costly, inefficient and disconnected from reality.
Ari Vatanen MEP (EPP-ED, France) on 12 July launched an attack on the European transport policy objective to support alternatives to road including railways and public transports.
At a Parliament conference held in conjunction with Malcom Harbour MEP (EPP-ED, UK), Vatanen said that the current policy is inspired by “an extremely expensive and inefficient utopian ideal”. He then got down to some systematic myth breaking regarding the European transport policy as set out in the Commission’s Transport White Paper of 2001:
- Expensive projects such as the 15 billion euro Lyon-Turin tunnel under the Alps are not justified by cross-border traffic intensity. Existing road and rail system could easily carry three times as much freight;
- In most cases, road cannot be replaced by other transport modes as it is the only way to deliver goods from door-to-door fast without need for transhipment. Road transport has made “just-in-time” deliveries possible, bringing cost savings for industry and trade. Ninety five per cent of passenger and freight transport on land is currently via road and can therefore not be replaced easily;
- Public perception that cars contribute to pollution is outdated. Even with rising traffic volumes, toxic emissions due to road traffic are in sharp decline overall and air quality in Europe has improved spectacularly. CO2 emissions from cars and trucks in Europe contribute to only 2% of world greenhouse gas emissions;
- Cars are the social transport of our time, allowing citizens to pursue many different activities during the same day (including work) and therefore contribute to quality of life;
- Subsidies for rail and public transport are a heavy drain on public finances and the European economy. By contrast, road users bring EU governments about 330 billions euro in taxes every year.