Transport | Policy Brief
Moving forward together : what’s next for EU mobility and transport?
26 March 2024
BY: MONTERO-PASCUAL Juan J., Elodie Petrozziello
On 21 February 2024 the European Commission Directorate General for Mobility and Transport in cooperation with the Florence School of Regulation hosted an academic conference to explore opportunities and challenges in mobility and transport policy in the next five years. This policy brief summarises the discussion at the conference. EU transport policy has traditionally focused on constructing the single European transport area: an interoperable, multimodal, competitive, efficient and socially fair network of networks ensuring connectivity for passengers and shippers. This historic project is still relevant as the single market has not been completed for transport and mobility, and this has proven to be a dynamic target that has evolved over time. There was a widely shared consensus on reinforcing a systemic approach to transport and mobility, transcending the mode-specific policies and even mere intermodality/multimodality. The role of system managers was identified as key to meeting old and new policy objectives in transport. Digitalisation empowers the system approach and the role of system managers thanks to tools such as digital twins. The green transition is the overarching challenge that has emerged in transport policy. Decarbonisation has been integrated in the historical single market project, but not without tensions. Decarbonisation policy sometimes conflicts with the increase in mobility due to the new options and lower prices caused by competition in the single market. Incentivising innovation and efficiency to reduce emissions are measures in line with traditional policy objectives. Modal shifts are becoming more challenging, primarily due to cost divergences and the impact on competitiveness of internalising external costs and alternative fuels. Measures curbing demand pose the ultimate challenge to traditional policies, with free movement as the ultimate rationale. While the construction of the single market and the green and digital transitions are still the main policy objectives, there are new challenges for EU mobility and transport policy, and the conference devoted time to understanding them. Tourism is a specific driver of transport that has often been neglected, even though it creates particular patterns that need to be recognised in mobility policy. Attention was devoted to the energy bottlenecks emerging as a result of decarbonisation. Energy is increasingly relevant in transport policy, underlining the need for a system approach in the green transition. Resilience is increasingly pertinent because of the shocks impacting society in general and transport in particular. Transport diplomacy has the ambition to reinforce resilience through the creation of parallel trade routes, and furthermore to cooperate with the Global South and, as an ultimate goal, to strengthen the attractiveness of the European model in a world with growing tension. This tension has demonstrated the need to consider the military angle in transport policy.
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