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Illustration: Connected city

Source: AdobeStock / metamorworks

“There is nothing more European than mobility and transport.” Federal Minister of Transport Andreas Scheuer coined this phrase during the German Council Presidency in 2020. And he is right: Mobility does not stop at the border and must therefore be conceived from a European perspective. The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the importance of mobility and reliable transport chains in Europe.

Transport policy affects everyday life in different ways and has an impact on everybody, whether they travel by car, train or plane; go to work by bus, tram or underground or whether goods have to be transported to ensure that supermarkets can be supplied. Without a European transport system, it would not be possible to maintain the usual living standard. At the same time, the transport sector has to remain on track on its way forward towards a smart and sustainable future to make sure that man and nature will remain in balance.

The European Commission has developed some ideas at European level on these matters and, in December 2020, presented the comprehensive Transport Strategy on Smart and Sustainable Mobility that is to modernise the European transport sector with regard to sustainability and the digital transformation. With this strategy, the Commission intends to lay the foundation for the ecological and digital transformation of the EU transport system and for its resilience to future crises.

In the strategy, the Commission identifies the same three areas for action as the New Mobility Approach of the German Council Presidency.

  1. Climate change mitigation (action area 1): The approaches adopted so far to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector are to be evolved in a more effective way. In this context, the sector is to be decarbonised, and transport services are to be shifted from the road to more environmentally friendly modes of transport and be modernised.
  2. Digital transformation (action area 2): In the strategy digital transformation is considered as an instrument to realize a climate-sensitive EU mobility vision.
  3. Lessons learned from the corona crisis / resilience (action area 3): The COVID-19 pandemic has created massive problems in the transport sector, too, but it is now also regarded as an opportunity for a green economic upturn and more sustainable and clean mobility.

In addition, the EU strategy defines ten key areas (“flagships” in its action plan) for the envisaged mobility that are to be implemented in 82 initiatives in the years to come. The focus of the strategy is on sustainability and the digital transformation of mobility, and both of them are conceived as indispensable drivers for the modernisation of the whole system.

With this, concerning climate change mitigation, the Commission continues along its path chosen with the extensive “European Green Deal” that was presented one year ago to make the EU climate neutral by 2050. The transport strategy pursues the vision of sustainable, affordable, inclusive, smart, resilient as well as competitive mobility and demands a fundamental transformation of the transport sector.

For instance, the strategy is to bring about tangible changes in how passengers and goods are transported in Europe. Combining different modes of transport during one single journey is to become easier. The digital transformation is to revolutionise the way we move and make our mobility smarter, more efficient and also more environmentally friendly.

The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure will constructively contribute to the further discussions on the future of mobility and evaluate the announced individual measures as soon as the Commission presents specific proposals for deliberation in the EU Council of Ministers and the European Parliament. The European Commission’s transport strategy can be found here.