Presenting a new Green Paper on Urban Transport, Commissioner Jacques Barrot outlined 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.
Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot formally opened the debate on how to solve Europe’s urban mobility woes with the presentation of a Green Paper entitled “Towards a new culture for urban mobility”, on 25 September 2007.
The aim is to create “free-flowing and greener towns and cities, smarter urban mobility and an urban transport which is accessible, safe and secure for all European citizens”. And, among the means suggested to achieve these goals, the Green Paper suggests:
- Promoting less car-dependent lifestyles by making alternatives to car use (walking, cycling, public transport, scooters and motorbikes) safer and more attractive, as well as by encouraging car-sharing or car-pooling solutions and increased ‘virtual mobility’ – i.e. tele-working and tele-shopping;
- encouraging towns and cities to implement urban charging schemes, such as those in place in London and Stockholm;
- establishing harmonised rules for setting up urban green zones, so as to enable local authorities to implement measures such as pedestrianisation, restricted access or urban charging, without creating barriers to mobility for citizens and goods;
- making use of Intelligent Transport Systems to improve urban traffic management and traveller information;
- setting harmonised minimum performance standards for the operation of vehicles;
- supporting the introduction of clean and energy-efficient vehicles through ‘green public procurement’, which could mean including life-cycle costs for energy consumption and CO2 and other pollutant emissions in the award criteria in addition to the vehicle’s price (see LinksDossier on Green Procurement);
- teaching new drivers and professionals to reduce consumption through ‘eco-driving’ techniques;
- limiting transport demand growth linked to urban sprawl (due to the dispersal of home, work and leisure facilities) thanks to better urban planning, and;
- setting up a European Observatory on Urban Mobility to collect and exploit data and identify best practices.
The financing puzzle
The Commission points out that the financing needs are “huge”. They include investments in infrastructure and intermodal terminals, as well as operating costs and the maintenance and renewal of rolling stock.
“All stakeholders at local, regional, national and EU level, including users, must contribute,” it concludes.
Among the potential solutions, the Green Paper identifies:
- A better targeting of existing sources of financing, such as the EU’s structural and cohesion funds, towards clean urban transport activities;
- the use of urban road user charging schemes or parking charges to finance urban transport measures, and;
- public-private partnerships.