Analysis: Fear of change is Europe’s transport roadblock

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot calls on Europeans to embrace reform of the transport sector in an article he wrote for the tri-annual publication, Europe’s world.

Ongoing globalisation, terrorist attacks on transport infrastructure, slower than expected economic growth, rising oil prices, and perhaps most importantly, the challenge of global warming, have all changed the world since the publication of the White Paper on Transport in 2001. The mid-term review issued earlier this year reflects those changes, according to Barrot.

Thus, climate change and the need to be competitive are listed as the Transport Commissioner’s top concerns. The use of more efficient logistical chains and the combining of different modes of transport and technology have been assigned as ways to meet today’s challenges. The mid-term review strives to increase the use of rail and waterways for long distance connections and to make road transport and aviation both “more efficient and greener”. As a result there is a focus on “logistics, green propulsion and intelligent transport systems that use the latest technology.” 

However, Barrot makes clear that he is not calling for a revolution, rather a “step-by-step” progression and a change in the mindset of all stakeholders involved in transport to overcome any reluctance to change. 

He concludes, “By embracing rather than resisting change, we in Europe have the capacity to build a better, fairer, healthier and more prosperous life for our citizens.” 

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