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EU must support every region, city and village to deliver zero transport emissions by 2050  

​ EU drive to alternative low fuels vital in race against climate change but it must be a just transition

Support by EU local and regional leaders for the European Green Deal risks being undermined if key sectors of the local economy are left behind by the transition to a more sustainable future, the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) has warned. In their plenary debate on the future of transport and in its opinion on stronger CO2 emission standards for cars and vans and the deployment of alternative fuel infrastructure for cities and regions in the EU, CoR members in particular highlighted the need for equal treatment between urban and rural areas.

During the plenary debate with the EU Commissioner for Transport, Adina Vălean, local and regional leaders emphasised the need to support all regions and cities in delivering more sustainable transport, a key element if the EU is to reach its legally committed 2050 goal of climate neutrality. The debate focused on how to make transport more sustainable in light of the EU's Green Deal target of cutting 90% of transport emissions by 2050. While fully supporting the Commission's cuts, regions and cities highlighted the need for a fair and equal approach, especially between urban and rural areas, as the European Commission proposes significant investments in recharging and refuelling stations to encourage the switch to electric or sustainable mobility.

President of the European Committee of the Regions and Governor of the Region of Central Macedonia in Greece, Apostolos Tzitzikostas said: "Fully decarbonising our transport terms is necessary and achievable if the specific needs of every region, city and village are met. Every level of government must come together and invest together under the national recovery plans, with dedicated EU co-financing given to local and regional governments. Many regions depend on the automotive industry, so accelerating the green transition means investing in re-skilling local workforces. This European transformation towards green mobility must be seen as an opportunity, not a burden, for governments, industry and people."

Adina Vălean, Commissioner for Transport, stated: "By 2030, we expect to see at least 30 million electric cars on EU roads, compared to about 1 million today. But infrastructure must match demand. Our proposal for an Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation takes a market-based approach, ensuring we have the recharging and refuelling stations we need to both meet this demand and to encourage yet more individuals and businesses to make the switch to electric – or hydrogen fuel cell – vehicles. Our distance-based targets will allow drivers to travel across the Union without range anxiety, while fleet-based targets will ensure we have sufficient charging points, while leaving Member States and regions to select the locations."

The CoR's opinion on stronger CO2 emission standards for cars and vans and the deployment of alternative fuel infrastructure calls for a European co-financing mechanism that enables every region to upgrade their infrastructure to offer greener fuels and drive demand for more sustainable vehicles. But, the CoR stressed, a more integrated approach to planning is needed, particularly to connect up urban and rural areas more effectively. Availability of alternative fuels throughout the whole EU is also a significant issue, especially in the more rural and remote areas which lack the necessary infrastructure. In 2020, 70% of all electric car charging points were located in just three European countries – the Netherlands, France and Germany – and this, combined with the relatively easier access to more polluting vehicles in other parts of Europe, notably in central and eastern parts of the EU, is creating inequalities.

Adrian Teban (RO/EPP), Mayor of Cugir and rapporteur for this opinion, stressed: "A fair transition mechanism is needed at European level for regions that depend on the car industry to manage change in this sector, to ensure that the new sustainable mobility system based on alternative fuels is affordable and accessible to all citizens and guarantee that no region is left behind."

CoR members underlined the need to analyse the economic regional impact of the transition to zero emission road vehicles to ensure the EU delivers a just transition support in every region.. The CoR is currently developing an alliance of regions to ensure a just and equal transition, especially in regions where the automotive sector is a major part of their local economy.


To ensure a just transition towards climate neutrality 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.


Theresa Sostmann

Tel. +32 2282 2457

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