On 1 July, Germany will start its Presidency of the Council of the EU for the next six month, taking over from Croatia. In its first presentation of the upcoming priorities, and despite the COVID-19 crisis, the German government remains committed to important priorities such as climate protection and the digitalisation.
Amongst those, one of the ambitions of the German Presidency will be to make mobility in Europe more modern, more innovative and more sustainable, building up on the lessons from the COVID-19 crisis. Federal Minister Andreas Scheuer, responsible for transport, outlined the priorities for the mobility sector, building up on the work of the Croatian Presidency and the Commission’s adjusted work programme. The approach to mobility of the German presidency will be relying on three pillars: sustainability, mobility and digital transformation. A focus will be put on three main initiatives scheduled for release in the last quarter of the 2020: the Strategy for sustainable and smart mobility, ReFuelEUAviation -Sustainable Aviation Fuels, and FuelEU Maritime-Green European Maritime Space.
Meanwhile in Germany, whilst Brussels is still waiting for the new Hydrogen Strategy (to be published on 8 July), the German government published its National Hydrogen Strategy, with a financial support of 7 billion Euros. The German presidency is also expected to finalise the discussions on the ongoing legislative files, including the measures to speed up the completion of the Trans-European transport network (TEN-T), the Connecting Europe Facility, rail passengers’ rights, the Eurovignette proposal and many other priorities outlined by the Croatian Presidency. The German government also put forward the intention to develop a European pandemic contingency plan for freight transport. Lacking so far Europe-wide arrangements for key transport infrastructures and modes of transport in the event of pandemics, introducing uniform standards and procedures has been identified by the German government as a priority.
CEEP believes that managing the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis whilst handling climate change will ask for strong commitments from EU Member States. Increasing the share of public transport is in our views the best decarbonisation and e-mobility strategy for urban areas and cities. Public transport is sustainable, clean, and reliable. During the COVID-19 lockdowns, public transport operators maintained their services and were vital for facilitating the transport of staff and patients to healthcare facilities.
In the aftermath of COVID-19, public transport operators will require a considerable financial input. These investments will be vital as the public transport sector is a key driver for employment. Public transport is also a basic requirement for successful economic structures. To safeguard the development and the decarbonised transition of this sector, CEEP calls for a continued and strong political environment and long-term legal security, as well as better access to European funding for urban transport. CEEP intends in the upcoming months to strengthen the image of public transport as expressed in our position to the Year of Rail 2021 and on the upcoming EU Strategy for smart and sustainable mobility.