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Release ID: 4417

Transport policy must be given higher priority, demands transport sector in joint letter to Commission President Barroso

Transport policy must be given a higher priority that reflects the importance of the sector’s contribution to the development of the European Union, Commission President José Manuel Barroso has been told by transport representatives. In a joint letter, nine transport organisations representing the European rail, road, air, inland waterway and maritime sectors, expressed their desire for a stronger and more comprehensive commitment to transport policy from the new Commission. “Our sector should be seen and developed with full consideration given to all the complex environmental, economic, social, and employment factors that are inseparable from EU transport policy and the achievement of a prosperous, integrated and successful European Union,” they wrote.

In the recently published ‘Political Guidelines for the New Commission’, presented by Commission President Barroso in July 2009, the ‘decarbonisation of the transport sector’ was the sole reference to transport in the entire document.

“Decisively tackling the environmental challenges is a more important priority than ever before and has to be a key element of the future European transport and climate policy,” the sector organisations agree. “But it should not be pursued to the exclusion of all other transport policy goals,” they add.

Transport is ‘the backbone’ of the European economy, accounting directly for 7% of GDP and more than 5% of total employment in the EU. This number more than doubles if the related industries serving transport, such as manufacturing, servicing, maintenance, and IT, are included.

Besides the decarbonisation of the transport sector, the European Commission’s Communication on the Future for Transport from June 2009 raises some other important challenges, for which the transport sector must prepare: the implications of an ageing and increasingly urbanised population on both the workforce and transport users; the impact of transport costs on inward investment or delocalisation of business; migration and internal mobility; the adoption of new technology and infrastructure; co-modality; transport safety and transport security. These are all challenges which deserve full consideration alongside the environmental impact of transport, which must be properly addressed, the organisations demand.

The letter was sent to Commission President Barroso and to Commission Vice-President Tajani (in copy) on 20 November 2009. It was signed by Michael Nielsen, International Road Transport Union (IRU), Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus, Association of European Airlines (AEA), Johannes Ludewig, Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER), Theresia Hacksteiner, European Barge Union (EBU), Alfons Guinier, European Community Shipowner’s Association (ECSA), Isabelle Ryckbost, European Federation of Inland Ports (EFIP), Henk van der Velde, European Skippers Organization (ESO), Patrick Verhoeven, European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO), and Karin de Schepper, Inland Navigation Europe (INE).

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