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Czech Representation hosts debate on the future of European transport

Date: 03 May 2011, Venue: Brusel

Experts agree on need of full modal integration and removing of obstacles.

The European Commission published its White Paper on Transport in March 2011, a document that includes proposals to modernise and decarbonise the transport sector in order to create a competitive and sustainable transport system and to create a genuine Single European Transport Area without internal barriers. These proposals were the focus of a seminar, organised jointly by CEBRE, the Czech Permanent Representation to the EU and AWT Group on Tuesday 3 May 2011.

Over 35 participants representing European institutions, Member States and business sector agreed there is a need for concrete and better analysed measures in the paper as well as better cooperation between the EU and Member States on sustainability.

The White Paper from 1992 opened the transport market, White Paper from 2001 focused on rebalancing modes to fight capacity constrains whereas the 2011 White Paper “Roadmap to a single European transport area – Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system” aims at putting transport into broader Europe 2020 perspective.

Lucie ŠESTÁKOVÁ, acting Deputy Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic welcomed the participants and invited them to provide inputs and comments. “The Czech Republic welcomes the EC White Paper, especially the differentiation between various modes of transport and support to infrastructure across the EU,“ said Jan NĚMEC, transport attaché from the Czech Permanent Representation to the EU. “However, when talking about greening and sustainability of transport we have to make sure that we do not lose competitiveness,“ added Němec.

Gergely SULYOK, economic analyst from the European Commission, stressed that transport is the backbone of the Internal Market and trade in general. The 2011 White Paper proposes 40 initiatives grouped in four headings marked with “i” – internal market, innovation, infrastructure and international. “Greenhouse Gas emissions from passenger transport count around 60% of EU transport emissions and 1/4 of total transport emissions comes from urban transport,” said Sulyok. Almost 96% of transport depends on oil and oil is expected to become more expensive. Therefore, there is a need for change of the transport system. Transport will need to use less energy, cleaner energy and need to exploit efficiently a multimodal, integrated and ‘intelligent’ network.

Olga SEHNALOVÁ, Member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Transport and Tourism informed that the discussions in the EP are just starting. “There is a need for public and political support which will encourage all actors to participate in and cooperate on the creation of a Single European Transport Area,” stressed MEP Sehnalová.

“BUSINESSEUROPE supports the general objective of the White Paper to achieve sustainable transport” said Anna CONSTABLE, Adviser for the Internal Market Department. In this context a blend of initiatives is needed relating to infrastructure, transport vehicles and equipment, ICT solutions, network services and operational and administrative procedures. The emphasis should be on creating the conditions for effective co-modality and completing the internal market for transport – not a forced modal shift.

Marc BILLIET, Head of EU Goods Transport and EU Environmental Affairs Department of IRU – International Road Transport Union stressed the White Paper lacks concrete measures. “The aims of earlier White Paper have not yet been fully achieved, we have to make sure we succeed this time,” said Billiet. , We need a resource-efficient transport system with all transport modes; forced modal shift does not work, he outlined. It is important to increase efforts to reduce the environmental footprint of commercial road transport at source.  Ambitions of the White Paper go into a good direction however they are far from the reality. The Member States keep their protective measures.

”When introducing locomotives to the Internal Market (only to four countries) we are confronted with burdensome red tape. We need to ease the access to the Internal Market by cutting red tape and enhance cooperation across the EU,” added Petr JONÁK, Director of Corporate Communication Department of AWT Group. He stressed as well the importance of competitiveness while adopting new environmental legislation.

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