The reorientation of the transport policy at EU level is in full swing: whilst on Thursday, 24th of May 2018, the European Parliament's Committee on Transport, voted on the first part of the Mobility Package “Europe on the Move” and in doing so supported the ban of vignettes on Europe’s motorways, which is currently being discussed, a week earlier, the Commission had presented the third and so far last Mobility Package. Road transport of the future shall be cleaner, safer and more connected: more environmentally friendly HGVs, increasing road transport safety as well as better connectivity and automation of transport modes shall contribute to achieving these objectives.
Parliament votes on the Transport Costs Directive
It has been exactly a year, since the Commission presented the First Mobility Package, based on which Europe's road transport shall become cleaner and fairer. Since then, intensive negotiations on the eight concrete legislative proposals, which are included in this Package, have been going on both in Parliament and Council.
With the Amendment on the Transport Costs Directive, the Transport Committee voted on 24th May 2018 on the first key dossier within the framework of this Package. From an Austrian point of view, the result is ambiguous: even though the toll tariffs for HGVs shall concentrate more on how “clean” vehicles are, at the same time, the majority of MEPs also supported banning time-dependent toll systems from 2025, as they would not do sufficient justice to the polluter pays principle.
For Austria, this would mean no less than the end of motorway vignettes. However, a switch to a kilometre-dependent toll, as it exists in Italy and France for example, would result in significant extra costs for those commuters, who have to commute on Austria’s motorways on a daily basis. Whether this will indeed happen, will depend on the Council and thereby on national governments, which have not yet worked out a joint position.
Commission presents Third Mobility Package
Already last week, the Commission presented the Third Mobility Package with the objective to make road transport cleaner, safer and more connected. To achieve this, there are nine legislative proposals, a communication on autonomous driving as well as a strategic action plan on batteries.
With regard to legislative initiatives, in particular the Dossier on CO2 emission standards for HGVs and heavy-duty vehicles will be the subject of controversial discussions: the industry shall be obliged to reduce CO2 emissions - compared to 2019 - for newly registered vehicles by 15 % by 2025. In a second step, the Commission is aiming at a further reduction by 15 % by 2030. There is also in the opinion of the Commission no doubt that action is required: even though HGVs only account for 5 % of the traffic volume, they are causing 22 % of all CO2 traffic emissions.
Two further dossiers provide higher safety standards for cars and an improved management of the road transport infrastructure to increase road safety. There are still 25,000 people dying because of accidents on Europe’s roads every year. In order to reduce this number, the proposal includes the mandatory installation of eleven different safety systems in case of new vehicles, such as an emergency brake assistant system or a lane-keeping or speed limit assistant system. The improved safety management includes a comprehensive road risk assessment (“risk mapping”).
Finally, the Package also includes two dossiers on the “Creation of a digital environment” for exchanging information in the transport sector as well as a further legislative proposal for the approval procedure for projects related to core connections of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T).