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Keep Europe moving - Sustainable mobility for our continent. Mid-term review of the 2001 White Paper

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Keep Europe moving - Sustainable mobility for our continent. Mid-term review of the 2001 White Paper

This Communication draws up a mid-term review of European transport strategy, set out in the 2001 White Paper. The Commission reaffirms the main principles that guide its policy. It draws attention to the changes in the context since 2001 and the need to find new solutions to problems encountered within this new framework. Enlargement, the acceleration of globalisation, international commitments on global warming, the geopolitical context of the growth in oil prices and security fears have influenced the sector and resulted in calls for new solutions


Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 22 June 2006 on the mid-term review of the Transport White Paper, "Keep Europe moving - Sustainable mobility for our continent, published in 2001. Mid-term review of the Transport White Paper, published in 2001 by the European Commission" [COM(2006) 314 final - Not published in the Official Journal].


The 2001 White Paper proposed almost 60 measures designed to implement a transport system capable of restoring the balance between different modes, revitalising the railways, promoting sea and waterway transport and controlling the increase in air transport. The White Paper was providing a response to the sustainable development strategy adopted by the Göteborg European Council in June 2001.

This communication reaffirms the principles of 2001, which guide European transport policy by responding to the economic, social and environmental needs of society. This sector provides 7% of GDP in the EU and 5% of jobs. The mobility of goods and citizens, apart from being a right, also creates cohesion and is an essential element of the competitiveness of European industry and services.

Transport policy objectives

This communication provides an opportunity for an overview of the different sectors, in order to identify new solutions in a changing context.

Transport policy is at the heart of the Lisbon agenda for growth and jobs. The policy therefore has long term objectives which seek to balance economic growth, social welfare and environmental protection in all policy choices. It is therefore necessary to:

  • divorce mobility from its side effects, which are congestion, accidents and pollution;
  • optimise the potential of each mode of transport. Some modes, including waterborne transport, do not reach their full capacity;
  • promote green propulsion and encourage the use of more environmentally friendly, energy efficient and safer transport;
  • promote co-modality, i.e. the efficient use of different modes of transport on their own and in combinations, resulting in an optimal use of resources.

The Commission also wishes to adapt rail and waterborne transport in line with the principles of the internal market. Efficiency gains supported by EU policies should therefore make these modes of transport more competitive, particularly with regard to road transport.

In order to succeed in meeting these objectives, this communication identifies four pillars for transport policy, namely:

  • the mobility of people and businesses throughout the Union;
  • environmental protection, the security of energy supply, promoting minimum labour standards and protecting passengers and citizens;
  • innovation, which supports the implementation of the two previous objectives by making sector activity more efficient and sustainable;
  • action on the world stage so that other countries can share in these objectives.

The changing context

The text does, however, emphasise that the political context of transport in the EU has changed:

  • enlargement has given the EU a continental dimension. Europe is more diverse and each Member State finds itself in different and sometimes even contrasting situations, which include congestion in the West and accessibility problems in the East. This diversity requires differentiated solutions;
  • the transport industry has changed. Consolidation is taking place at the European level, especially in the aviation and maritime sectors. In addition, globalisation has led to the creation of large logistics companies with worldwide operations. European transport policy must take this new situation into account;
  • transport is fast becoming a high-technology industry. Research and innovation have a fundamental role to play. Some of the most pressing and promising areas include: intelligent transport systems involving communication, navigation and automation, engine technology with increased fuel efficiency and the promotion of alternative fuels;
  • international environmental commitments, including those under the Kyoto Protocol, must be integrated into transport policy;
  • transport policy must continue to attain the objectives of the European energy policy: transport accounts for 30% of total energy consumption in the EU, with oil dependency reaching 98%. High oil prices influence the sector and promote improved energy efficiency;
  • the international context has changed. The threat of terrorism has impacted on the transport sector. At the same time, economic globalisation has affected trade flows and increased demand, particularly in emerging economies;
  • European governance is evolving. The basic legal framework of the internal market has largely been established, and much now rests on its effective implementation in the field. The Commission is also seeking to simplify the rules.

A new challenge

Therefore, while the most pressing challenges identified in 2001 were the imbalance between different modes of transport and congestion, the situation has developed subsequently. Road congestion has escalated and is now costing the EU 1% of GDP. There has also been a sustained increase in air traffic and its impact on the environment. Greenhouse gases and global warming are now prominent issues. Overall, domestic transport accounts for 21% of greenhouse gas emissions. These emissions have risen by around 23% since 1990, threatening the achievement of Kyoto targets.

The measures envisaged by the Commission in 2001 will therefore be inadequate for achieving the objectives established at the outset, hence the need for a broader, more flexible instrument for action. In order to devise and evaluate future policies, the Commission wants to promote a debate on transport scenarios with a 20 to 40-year timescale, in order to develop a universal approach to sustainable transport.


Road transport

Although international road transport has been liberalised, at national level it is still largely protected. The Commission wishes to establish common rules relating to professional qualifications and working conditions, which vary greatly by Member State. Moreover, the impact on competition regarding differences in fuel-tax levels between Member States are important factors that will influence future development. Therefore, the Commission wishes to narrow the excessive differences in fuel-tax levels.

Rail transport

After the liberalisation of freight transport, whose legal framework is due for completion in 2007, the third package has to open up international passenger transport. The Commission wishes to:

  • propose measures on access to the market and the profession;
  • address the issue of excessive differences in excise duty levels;
  • implement the acquis with the support of regulatory bodies in Member States;
  • step up efforts to remove technical and operational barriers to international traffic;
  • establish a network dedicated to rail freight within the political framework of transport logistics;
  • organise rail-market monitoring using a scoreboard mechanism.

Air transport

The restructuring and integration of the air industry's internal market are at a very advanced stage and customers benefit from the internal market's development. The Commission nonetheless wishes to:

  • enlarge the internal market and extend its positive contributions to external aviation relations;
  • complete the creation of the single European sky in order to increase the efficiency of EU air transport;
  • invest to increase airport capacity, whilst clarifying regulations relating to charges;
  • reduce environmental effects caused by the rapid rise in traffic.

Maritime transport

The Commission identifies the maritime sector as an alternative to overland transport, particularly because it has considerable potential over short distances, as illustrated by the concept of " motorways of the sea ". The development of maritime transport should, however, face up to two key challenges:

  • the creation of an internal shipping space. Due to international regulations, sea journeys from one Member State to another are considered as external. Therefore, the Commission wishes to organise a consultation to draw up a strategy for the creation of a "common European maritime space";
  • the expansion of port capacity. In order to deal with the estimated growth in maritime transport, investment in ports should increased, in order to improve and extend services, with the help of competition and the introduction of clear rules for public sector contributions.

Transport by waterway

The Commission emphasises river transport's potential, which could be enhanced through its integration into co-modal logistics chains. The NAIADES programme sets out an action plan that promotes the sector, which the Commission wishes to implement.


Employment and working conditions

Transport is a major employer, providing more than 10 million jobs in the Union. However, in some sectors, such as rail and road transport, shortages of qualified personnel have come to light. The Commission therefore wishes to focus on training and encouraging more young people to choose jobs in the transport profession.

The Commission proposes to examine rules on working conditions due to significant variations in labour costs. The Commission also wishes to establish talks with a view to applying the International Labour Organization Convention in the maritime sector.

The Commission divides the concept of protection into the following categories:

  • passenger rights: The Commission notes that passenger rights have been consolidated in recent years, but considers that national authorities have to improve their follow-up of complaints. It therefore hopes to examine ways of promoting an improved quality of service and the assurance of basic passenger rights in all modes of transport, particularly for passengers with reduced mobility;
  • safety: the Commission also emphasises the progress that has been made in this area, especially with the creation of a blacklist of dangerous airlines. The Commission wishes to finalise safety rules with the third maritime legislative package as well as road rules with the CARS 21 initiative and eSafety forum;
  • security: the Commission wishes to refine the acquis of measures established in the wake of 11 September 2001 attacks, which revealed that transport is both a target and an instrument of terrorism. It will, therefore, propose amendments and broaden the scope of safety rules to include land and intermodal transport as well as critical infrastructures;
  • urban transport is confronted with a specific problem; city dwellers suffer the consequences of their own mobility more than anyone else. The Commission announces the publication of a Green Paper on this issue.


The Commission wishes to assimilate innovation across the board in transport policy in order to hasten the development of relevant solutions. Intelligent safety features, new means of communication and traffic management could all aid the mobility and integration of European networks. EU companies could also win new markets owing to their excellence in the field of transport technologies.


The transport sector uses a great deal of energy, accounting for 71% of EU oil consumption: 60% by road transport and approximately 9% by air transport. The remaining 2% is used by rail and inland navigation. Rail transport uses 75% electricity and 25% fossil fuels. The text recommends the promotion of improved energy efficiency on a European scale as well as supporting research, demonstration and market introduction of promising new technology.


Some areas in the "mid-West" of the EU are affected by congestion and pollution. By 2020, 60 big airports are expected to be over congested and a similar trend is observed in ports. It will therefore be necessary to build new infrastructures or to improve existing ones. The implementation of co-modal logistics chains is another solution.

Mobilising sources of financing

The total cost of the 30 priority trans-European transport network (TEN-T) projects, recorded in 2004, is estimated at around 250 billion. However, the public financing capacities of the Member States remain constrained. Similarly, the financial perspective for the period 2007-13 provide only a limited increase in the budget available for the TENs. The EU should therefore focus its co-financing on the critical border-crossing sections and the main bottlenecks. New types of financial engineering should also be developed.

Intelligent mobility

It is becoming increasingly common to charge for the use of transport infrastructure, as demonstrated in London or on specific motorways. The EU has adopted a Directive establishing a framework for toll motorways. These tariff systems aim to finance infrastructure, whilst helping to optimise traffic. The Commission has to propose, no later than 2008, a universal, transparent and comprehensible model for the assessment of all external costs, which must serve as the basis for calculations of infrastructure charges. The Commission also calls for a process of reflection, which encompasses the other modes of transport, in order to identify how intelligent charging can help improve the functioning of the sector.

Logistics is another issue that the Commission wishes to focus on, by drawing up a strategic framework, followed by a consultation leading to an action plan.

Furthermore, the Commission states that all modes of transport must have sophisticated means of communication, navigation and automation, relying in particular on the Galileo system. In this respect, the Intelligent Car and SESAR programmes are used for air transport, ERTMS for the rail industry and RIS for waterborne transport. In addition, the Commission wishes to develop similar initiatives in the maritime sector (e-maritime programme).


The Commission would like its policy to be part of a broader relationship with non-member countries, as the transport sector is inherently connected to international issues. Furthermore, the convergence of EU and international standards opens export markets for European technology. EU transport companies are often hampered by the maintenance of import or investment barriers in non-member countries. The Commission therefore envisages developing cooperation policies and industrial dialogue with its main trading partners and regional groupings, in particular by concluding agreements. It also wishes to draw up a strategic framework for extending the main axes of the internal transport market and creating a network with neighbouring countries that so desire.

Last updated: 04.01.2007