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Green Paper: Towards a new culture for urban mobility

This summary has been archived and will not be updated, because the summarised document is no longer in force or does not reflect the current situation.

Green Paper: Towards a new culture for urban mobility

This Green Paper aims to initiate the debate on issues specifically related to urban transport and to elicit applicable solutions at a European level. 60% of the European population is concentrated in urban areas, with these areas producing almost 85% of the gross domestic product (GDP). There are numerous issues in these areas, including traffic congestion and pollution, all of which costs the European Union 1% of its GDP. Faced with these issues, the EU needs to be able to fulfil the role of encouraging discussion, cooperation and coordination between local communities.


Commission Green Paper dated 25.9.2007 "Towards a new culture for urban mobility" [COM (2007) 551 final - not published in the Official Journal].


This Green Paper is the product of wide public consultation initiated in 2007. It opens up a second consultation process which lasts until 15 March 2008. With urban mobility being an asset for growth and employment, as well as an essential condition for a sustainable development policy, the Commission will use the consultation undertaken to subsequently propose an overall strategy in the form of an action plan.

The target audience for the consultation process is vast: it includes people living in towns and cities, transport users, transport company employers and employees, industry, public authorities and relevant associations. The resulting strategy will also be supported by the experience acquired by the Commission in this field with the CIVITAS initiative and with the 1995 Green Paper and its communication on "a Citizens’ Network".

A central idea of the forthcoming strategy is the need to integrate the various urban mobility policies in a single approach. Examples of European added value could be to:

  • Promote the exchange of good practice at all levels: local, regional, national and European;
  • Underpin the establishment of common standards and harmonisation;
  • Offer financial support to those who are in greatest need of such support;
  • Encourage research, the application of which would enable an improvement in mobility;
  • Simplify legislation, if necessary.

The Commission proposes to encourage the emergence of a real "urban mobility culture" integrating economic development, accessibility and improvement to quality of life and the environment.

For this purpose, the Green Paper identifies five challenges:

Improve fluidity in towns

Congestion is one of the key urban issues. It has numerous repercussions: economic, social and environmental. The Green Paper mentions a number of possible actions:

  • Make the modes of transport which are capable of replacing the car safe and appealing;
  • Encourage co-modality;
  • Encourage walking and cycling and develop the infrastructure for these methods of travel;
  • Optimise car use by carpooling and optimise "virtual mobility" (tele-working, tele-shopping, etc.);
  • Implement a parking policy designed to reduce traffic;
  • Encourage follow-on connections with public transport;
  • Optimise existing infrastructures;
  • Introduce urban charges, as seen in London or in Stockholm;
  • Encourage the introduction of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) to enable better trip planning;
  • Encourage the use of cleaner and smaller vehicles for making deliveries in and around towns;
  • Improve the integration of freight distribution in urban areas within local policy-making and institutional settings.

Reduce pollution

Although technological progress has made it possible to produce vehicles emitting lower levels of pollution, urban areas remain a major and increasing source of CO2 emissions. Pollution emissions have been reduced, particularly as a result of the progressive application of EURO emission standards. A legislative framework also exists for the use of biofuels. Nevertheless, the ecological position remains unsatisfactory.

The Commission proposes to:

  • Support research and technological development of vehicles using alternative fuels (biofuels, hydrogen, fuel cells);
  • Encourage the promotion of broad market introduction of new technologies by means of economic incentives;
  • Encourage the exchange of good practice between Member States in the area of urban transport;
  • Encourage a public procurement policy that respects the environment;
  • Internalisation of external costs associated with energy consumption and pollution for a vehicle's entire life from its introduction on the market;
  • Encourage "eco driving" to enable energy consumption to be reduced, as part of training given by driving schools; encourage the use of traffic management systems (which will be improved, particularly as a result of the Galileo programme); support the development of more "intelligent" cars;
  • Apply traffic restrictions in certain cases.

Intelligent urban transport…

The Galileo programme will permit the development of various applications for Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS). These already exist but sufficient use has yet to be made of them. The Commission proposes:

  • Use of smart charging systems;
  • Dynamic management of existing infrastructures using better information;
  • Wider dissemination of good practice in the area of ITS.

that is also more accessible

Elderly and disabled people, as well as people with reduced mobility, are calling for easy access to urban transport infrastructure. The parties involved in the Green Paper also consider that co-modality deserves more attention and that greater support should be given to integrated solutions.

In large built-up areas, there are trends towards suburbanisation and urban sprawl. If interlinking of the transport network does not take place, certain areas are at risk of social isolation. The Commission proposes the following points for consideration:

  • Improve the quality of collective transport;
  • Coordinate urban and suburban transport with regional planning;
  • Better integration of passenger and goods transport in urban planning;

Safety and security

In 2005, 41 600 people were killed on the roads in the EU. Two thirds of these accidents and one third of deaths occurred in an urban area. More often than not, the victims are the most vulnerable people, namely cyclists or pedestrians. Furthermore, the issue of public transport safety often puts people off using certain modes of transport. From a range of possible options, the Commission proposes the following:

  • Improving vehicle safety using new technologies;
  • Improving the quality of infrastructures, especially for pedestrians and cyclists;
  • Encouraging people to be more aware of their behaviour with regard to road safety.

Towards a new culture for urban mobility

The Green Paper also stresses the need to elicit an urban mobility culture by means of education, training and raising awareness. The EU could initiate training and discussion activities, such as:

  • Organising a European campaign to raise public awareness of urban mobility;
  • Strengthening the harmonisation of statistics from the various Member States and implementing common definitions;
  • Setting up an observatory aimed at collecting, harmonising and using the necessary data for policy-makers and for the general public which is also aimed at promoting the exchange of good practice.

The Green Paper proposes several options for financing the proposed measures:

  • More consistent use of existing financial instruments, such as the Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund, for the development of an integrated and sustainable urban transport system;
  • Establishment of market-based mechanisms, such as the Emissions Trading Scheme;
  • Contributions from the traveller, the private sector, public-private partnerships to the financing of urban and suburban collective transport.

Last updated: 07.03.2008