Trains take over, ETS ahoy & road ragers

Your weekly update of all things transport [Photo: Shutterstock]

Welcome to EURACTIV’s weekly Transport Brief – your one port of call for all the news moving the world and much more! Sign up here for the free newsletter.

In this edition: MEPs set a course for the EU’s carbon market, airline bailouts keep coming and Europe’s space agency unveils billions in new contracts. First, this week’s vlog on the finer points of plane emissions and what Brussels is going to do about them.




🚢  The Shipping News

MEPs on the Parliament’s influential environment committee voted to steer the sector into the carbon market and set a 40% efficiency target for 2030. A full vote in plenary is on the cards for September and then trilogues loom.

The Commission approved a €9.5m compensation scheme for Sweden’s ferries, after virus lockdown measures did serious economic damage to operators. The aid will be accessed through tax-deductions.

A Swedish court charged two people with desecrating the site of the sunken MS Estonia, one of the worst peacetime naval disasters in European history. An international treaty prohibits anyone from going near the wreck, where hundreds of bodies rest.

Denmark has granted a permit for construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to continue through its waters using older ships without the latest anchoring technology.


✈️  Sky-High

The Commission lost patience with ten countries that are still failing to protect EU passenger rights and launched legal action. Greece and Italy are the top offenders and are subject to two separate procedures each.

Governments are mulling more and more the idea of nationalising partially or fully their flag-carriers. Portugal has taken a larger stake in its national airline, TAP, while Italy is in the process of bringing Alitalia under state ownership.

Latvia’s plan to recapitalise Air Baltic with €250m, Austria’s €150m loan plan and a Cypriot incentive scheme worth €6.3m, open to all airlines operating a route to the island, were all given the go-ahead by the Commission.

Airlines were given a massive reprieve at ICAO, where countries agreed to change the baseline of the CORSIA offsetting scheme. Green groups warn that will neutralise any financial incentive for carriers to cut emissions.

How to integrate CORSIA into EU climate policy is the subject of ongoing assessment at the Commission. New analysis also looks into the idea of scrapping the free pollution permits granted to airlines under the ETS.

EU aviation regulator EASA banned two Pakistani carriers from Union airspace after it emerged that hundreds of pilots had cheated or committed fraud to get their flying licences.

Flights have restarted and borders have reopened. Intrepid EURACTIV reporter Beatriz Rios describes her journey from Brussels to Malaga in this cross-border reportage.

Airbus confirmed that it will slash jobs, angering unions and the French government, while Air France also confirmed positions would be cut.

And here’s a thought: the EU should set up its own airline. The Union has all the right attributes to run a successful carrier, the only question is: what should it be called? Here’s the result of the twitter poll (which I do NOT agree with).


🚄  The Inside Track

Austrian Airlines scrapped its Vienna-Salzburg route and a regular rail link will be established instead, as the Alpine republic’s bailout goal of reducing domestic air travel starts to bite.

Advocates of Rail Baltica – a multibillion euro high-speed rail link from Poland to Estonia – say that the project has not been affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Another of the EU’s ‘mega-projects’ – recently criticised by the bloc’s auditors for going over budget and deadline – is the Lyon-Turin rail tunnel and link. The new Green mayor of Lyon has confirmed he is firmly against it. One to watch.

French trainmaker Alstom has reportedly said it is willing to sell assets in order to convince regulators to back its merger bid for Bombardier. The TGV-builder is keen to avoid a repeat of its nixed attempt to tie up with Siemens.


🚗  Driven

The Commission opened up a feedback window on its plans to launch a comprehensive mobility strategy at the end of the year. It will be the first major transport initiative of this administration.

EU ministers from Central and Eastern European countries continue their crusade against the new Mobility Package. In this op-ed, they urge the European Parliament to make adjustments to the legislation.

US carmaker Tesla managed to become the most valuable auto-builder in the world, overtaking Toyota. But new plans show that Elon Musk’s firm is planning to scale back the scope of its new Europe HQ near Berlin.

The UK unveiled its guidelines for e-scooter trials on the country’s roads. They will be banned from pavements and users should hold a valid driving licence.

And who are the rudest road users in Europe? A new study says that the French and Greeks are the most prone to rage, while Poles are most likely to get out of their vehicle to come have an argument with you.


🚀  Spaced-Out

The European Space Agency unveiled contracts worth more than €2bn to boost the capabilities of its Copernicus Earth observation network. The six new missions have a climate policy theme to them and a final funding decision is due mid-2021.

More eyes in the sky are likely to shed even more light on the climate breakdown, which is now in full swing. New data showed that July 2019-June 2020 tied for the warmest 12 month period on record.

Arianespace announced that its latest commercial launch is on hold until August due to bad weather at its French Guyana base. The site was shut down temporarily during the virus lockdown.

The International Space Station had to undertake some unplanned manoeuvres to avoid space junk, in what is likely to be a more regular occurrence as the amount of debris in orbit increases with every expired satellite. 


Picture of the week

Footage via NASA shows a 1.5km-wide crater on Mars that resembles the structure of the human eye.

The Mars crater. [Photo via: Seán Doran/Data, HiRISE/NASA /NASAJPL/University of Arizona]


🎶 Lockdown Tunes

Cars – Gary Numan

Mustang Sally – Wilson Pickett

Mercedes Benz – Janis Joplin

The Chain – Fleetwood Mac

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