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Local leaders demand stronger support for sustainable and accessible transport to better protect citizens' health and the environment  

Decarbonising transport is key to tackling the climate crisis and improving citizens' health and living standards. In opinions on the Trans-European Transport Network and the new Urban Mobility Framework adopted in the 11 October plenary session, t he European Committee of the Regions (CoR) calls for better rules and adequate financial means to connect EU's territories through accessible and sustainable transport networks and to develop emission-free and affordable urban transport systems.

European cities and regions play a major role in promoting and developing accessible and sustainable transport in the EU. They are at the forefront in delivering the decarbonisation targets agreed at EU level and in developing transport networks for all EU territories that strengthen social, economic and territorial cohesion and reverse the growing risk of mobility poverty in rural areas.

During their plenary session on 11 October, members of the European Committee of the Regions adopted opinions on the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) and the new Urban Mobility Framework calling for the closer involvement of local and regional authorities in the development of policies and guidance on the deployment of sustainable and accessible transport systems in the EU’s regions and cities.

Local and regional authorities actively contribute to the planning and financing of transport infrastructure in their territories. For this reason, they called for an increased involvement of regions in the trans-European transport network (TEN-T) governance structure in the opinion on "Guidelines for the development of the trans-European transport network (TEN-T)", adopted by CoR members during their plenary session on 11 October. They highlighted that closing gaps, removing bottlenecks and technical barriers in the transport sector is the best way to bring concrete European added value to European citizens. The TEN-T, which addresses the implementation and development of a Europe-wide multi-modal transport network, favouring the most environmentally friendly modes of transport, provides a strong European added value and is the backbone of cohesion and connectivity of all regions, the opinion argues.

CO2 emissions from the transport sector, especially from passenger cars and vans, account for a third of the EU's total greenhouse-gas emissions. By providing infrastructure for low- and zero-emission mobility, the TEN-T will play a major role in achieving the climate goals the European Green Deal and the Paris Agreement. Local and regional authorities highlighted the socio-economic benefits of cross-border projects in their territories but stressed that TEN-T must take into account the diversity of challenges that EU regions face.

CoR members also highlighted the importance of clear rules on promoting climate-friendly modes of transport and ensuring that transport infrastructure is adapted to face the effects of climate change and related new risks.

Isabelle Boudineau (FR/PES), member of the Regional Council of Nouvelle-Aquitaine and rapporteur of this opinion, said: " The difficulties in importing wheat and raw materials, currently stuck in Ukraine, demonstrates that establishing an efficient European transport system is more than an economic need; it is a necessity in terms of European sovereignty. This is why it is imperative to complete the TEN-T by developing cross-border transport projects. We need to improve and better integrate urban nodes into the transport system, to make free movement of persons and goods a reality for all."

With regards to the "The new Urban Mobility Framework" proposed by the European Commission, CoR members stressed that, after decades of under-investment in public transport, the COVID pandemic and the consequences of the Russian aggression against Ukraine are exacerbating the funding gap faced by local and regional authorities. This risks to undermine their commitment to deliver better and cleaner transport services for citizens in both urban and rural areas.

With urban areas responsible for some 23% of the EU’s total transport emissions at present, members emphasised in the opinion on "The new Urban Mobility Framework" that public transport must be the backbone of urban mobility in the EU, complemented by improved conditions for increased active mobility as well as micro mobility and other innovative solutions.

The rapporteur Linda Gaasch (LU/Greens), Member of the Luxembourg City municipal council, said: " Strengthening walking and cycling, further developing strong public transport systems and emission-free solutions for logistics are the future of urban mobility. With the opinion on the Urban Mobility Framework, the Committee of the Regions sends a strong signal to the other European institutions: Cities and regions are ready for the mobility transition! "

Furthermore, to ensure connectivity of peri-urban and rural areas and to mitigate mobility poverty there needs to be an overall increase in public transport capacity and a more strategic approach to innovation (e.g., on-demand public transport), the opinion says. The economic prosperity of urban centres and their surroundings is directly linked to the fluidity of mobility; to achieve this fluidity and to meet the EU’s sustainability targets it is essential to ensure improved access to EU funds for local and regional authorities (LRAs). The opinion also calls for LRAs to be more actively included in policy development at EU and national levels, while pointing to the significant untapped potential of active mobility (walking and cycling), which offers important health and societal co-benefits and requires very little investment.

Background:

The revision of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) policy, proposed by the European Commission in December 2021, is developing a Europe-wide multi-modal transport network with the objective of closing gaps, removing bottlenecks and technical barriers and strengthening social, economic and territorial cohesion in the EU. The policy supports the application of innovation, new technologies and digital solutions to all modes of transport to achieve the goals of the European Green Deal. The objective is improved use of infrastructure, reduced environmental impact of transport, enhanced energy efficiency and increased safety. To address the effects of the Russian invasion in Ukraine on transport and infrastructure, the Commission amended the TEN-T policy in July 2022, strengthening the transport connections links with Ukraine.

To support the transition to cleaner, greener, and smarter mobility, the European Commission has introduced the new Urban Mobility Framework in December 2021. The framework calls for a stronger public transport network, efficient zero-emission urban logistics, and better management of mobility flows, through multimodal hubs and digital solutions. It provides guidance for local action and seeks to support cities and regions in their role as essential transport hubs within the single market.

To support the objectives of sustainable and affordable transport for all European cities and regions, the European Committee of the Regions established the Green Deal Going Local Campaign. This initiative aims to put regions and cities at the centre of the European Green Deal to empower local and regional leaders to take action on climate change and increase the delivery of sustainable EU-funded projects in local communities across the European Union.

Contact:

Theresa Sostmann

Tel. +32 475999415

Theresa.Sostmann@cor.europa.eu




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