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Procedure : 2012/2298(INI)
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Tuesday, 10 September 2013 - Strasbourg
European transport-technology strategy for Europe's future sustainable mobility

European Parliament resolution of 10 September 2013 on promoting a European transport-technology strategy for Europe’s future sustainable mobility (2012/2298(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Research and innovation for Europe’s future mobility – Developing a European transport-technology strategy’ (COM(2012)0501),

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Horizon 2020 – The Framework Programme for Research and Innovation’ (COM(2011)0808),

–  having regard to the 2011 Commission White Paper entitled ‘Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system’ (COM(2011)0144),

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Europe 2020 – A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ (COM(2010)2020),

–  having regard to its resolution of 27 September 2011 on European road safety 2011-2020(1),

–  having regard to Rule 48 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Transport and Tourism and the opinion of the Committee on Regional Development (A7-0241/2013),

A.  whereas the Commission has identified the shortcomings of Europe’s transport innovation system;

B.  whereas investment in research and innovation in the transport sector is simultaneously an investment in the economy and in job creation, and can therefore have a three-pronged effect;

C.  whereas innovation is essential in order to create a smarter, safer and more intelligent transport system for the public, meet the environmental challenges facing the transport sector and achieve a low-carbon economy;

D.  whereas the Europe 2020 strategy’s climate change and energy targets are closely linked to transport innovation: 20 % fewer greenhouse gas emissions than in 1990, 20 % of energy from renewables and a 20 % increase in energy efficiency, as well as the target of 50 % fewer deaths in road accidents than in 2001;

E.  whereas there will need to be a real change in users’ attitudes, and in the standards they demand, if a large number of businesses and service providers are to be persuaded to shift their paradigms and to exploit the innovation opportunities offered by the creative convergence and out-of-the-box thinking described in point 5.3 of the Commission communication COM(2012)0501;

F.  whereas the initiatives set out in the White Paper on transport are welcomed, particularly those mentioned in section 3.2 (entitled ‘Innovating for the future – technology and behaviour’), along with initiatives 7 (‘Multimodal transport of goods: e-freight’) and 22 (‘Seamless door-to-door mobility’);

G.  whereas Europe’s strategy must ensure that a balance is struck between efforts to reduce the environmental imprint of transport and efforts to ensure freedom of movement in the European Union in order to achieve a single European transport area that is intermodal, interconnected, integrated and effective in its use of resources;

H.  whereas in 2012 more than 31 000 people were still killed and more than 1 500 000 injured – in some cases seriously – in road accidents in the European Union;

I.  whereas technologies that will help attain the objectives of the ‘European transport safety area’ are already available but have not yet been placed on the market;

General principles

1.  Emphasises that a European transport-technology strategy for Europe’s future sustainable mobility should first and foremost promote quality of service, the convenience of passengers and businesses, and sustainable mobility, and should be based on the Union’s targets and legislation regarding the reduction of energy consumption, traffic noise, air pollutants, raw materials and greenhouse gas emissions up to 2020, 2030 and 2050, as well as improving health and quality of life, increasing the quality of services, providing increasingly customised solutions geared ever more closely to users’ needs, and enhancing safety and security;

2.  Calls on the Commission and Council, in view of the importance of research and innovation (R&I) to the whole European economy, to recognise the importance of the Horizon 2020 initiative and to finance it adequately;

3.  Confirms the Commission’s objective of better aligning transport R&I with European transport policy goals and roadmaps for each field, but believes that the approach proposed in the Commission’s communication needs to be adjusted according to the priorities defined hereinafter;

4.  Believes that European strategy in the field of transport technologies should cover all regions of the EU in order to ensure the efficient circulation of people and goods, and hence the creation of a genuine European single market;

5.  Believes that more efficient, coherent and targeted use of R&I in the setting and implementation of transport policy is key to being able to respond to new realities, break away from conventional thinking and focus on pioneering ideas, and thereby be able to provide users with innovative transport solutions that meet the needs, and fulfil the requirements, of availability, profitability, credibility, quality and continuity;

6.  Encourages the Commission to create a framework favourable to R&I by creating fair, efficient and innovative pricing systems for all mobility and transport modes, particularly through the internalisation of external costs, taking into account the ‘polluter pays’ and ‘user pays’ principles;

7.  Points to the usefulness of the Commission’s proposed Transport Research and Innovation Monitoring and Information System (TRIMIS) and maintains that the user’s perspective be incorporated into it, as it would offers an ideal means of detecting the barriers to innovation created by force of habit, of identifying opportunities and of encouraging the spread of new service possibilities to spur and promote changes in social attitudes to sustainable transport;

8.  Stresses that technology lock-in is liable to prevent the full potential of transport innovation from being reached and can hamper the development of new innovative ideas; considers, therefore, that Union policies should be technologically neutral with regard to alternative technologies for transport (‘technology neutrality’), with priorities and funding being decided on the basis of results over the entire life-cycle of technologies used in specific fields of transport, and that harmonisation efforts must not be an obstacle to the development of innovative or alternative solutions in the field of transport, the diversity of the energy mix and deployment of smart communication technologies;

9.  Emphasises that in order to help businesses and public bodies absorb new solutions and innovative technologies, more efficiency is needed in the innovation chain, and more investments are needed in measures such as economic incentives to overcome barriers to deployment and market uptake (‘full-cycle commitments’); encourages, therefore, the Commission to act on its idea that, in order to release the full innovative potential of the transport sector and support innovative undertakings, subsidies should also be used to help launch new solutions on the market, demonstrate them and implement them fully, and that appropriate management and financing tools can guarantee the swift implementation of research results;

10.  Believes that all European regions, and their respective labour pools, should take advantage of such a strategy, and stresses the need to take account of regional specificities and potential, especially when developing cleaner transport modes; calls on the authorities at subsidiary levels to create, alongside stakeholders, innovation partnerships in the field of sustainable mobility;

11.  Calls for stronger support for the R&I activities of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), notably through easier access to EU funds and the reduction of administrative burdens, and highlights the importance of creating and maintaining employment and sustainable growth through R&I;

12.  Maintains that investments under the EU Structural Funds and investment funds create great opportunities in European regions to develop smart specialisation in the area of sustainable mobility;

13.  Encourages national and regional authorities to devise research and development strategies that are based on the concept of smart specialisation, with a view to ensuring a more efficient take–up of structural funding and to enhancing synergies between private and public sector investment;

14.  Recalls, in this connection, that a strategy for innovative technology needs to be conceived on the basis of the characteristics and distinguishing features of the territories concerned, which means that a one-size-fits-all approach will not suffice; considers, for instance, that regions affected by specific territorial constraints, such as islands and mountainous, outermost and sparsely populated regions, have specific types of economic and other potential which, to be realised, call for appropriate and innovative mobility solutions; points out, in this context, the need to allocate adequate resources for sustainable transport infrastructure;

15.  Stresses the need for greater simplification of the administrative procedures for R&I funding at European, national, regional, local and cross-border levels, in order to establish a clear and transparent legal framework;

16.  Stresses that efforts to reduce the number of people killed or injured on the roads must be unremitting; urges the Commission to consider and implement those proposals for improving road safety that Parliament has adopted by a large majority;

17.  Considers that a change in transport technology is right and important; stresses, however, that this change must be brought about not through prohibitions but through incentives to use new low-resource technologies;

18.  Stresses that there must be no prohibitions against thinking about innovative new transport solutions or about the use of tried and tested procedures in new combinations;

General measures

19.  Believes that R&I in the area of sustainable mobility should be based on the principle of integration, in particular through the abolition of trans-border missing links (interconnections), increased compatibility between and within the systems (interoperability) as well as through the objectives of achieving a shift towards the combination of the most appropriate and sustainable transport mode for a given route (inter- and co-modality);

20.  Recalls the need for the EU to develop a genuine common transport policy, ensuring the relevance of transport within and between European regions and its coherence across local, regional, national and European levels; calls on the Member States and regions to ensure that the mix of models ensures a greater focus on genuinely sustainable mobility;

21.  Stresses that this strategy must be based on an integrative model in which interregional connections and cross-border missing links are accorded the highest importance, including in geographically fragmented regions, and innovative solutions for multimodal transport can reduce regional disparities, stimulate labour mobility and enhance territorial cohesion; is mindful of the fact that there are currently considerable differences between regions in the field of transport networks, and draws attention to the need for investment in sustainable transport technologies and solutions in regions with specific disadvantages, also taking into account the potential of the Connecting Europe Facility;

22.  Stresses that R&I should also focus on the development of sustainable infrastructure elements in support of a shift to using renewable primary products such as wood or compound material as railway infrastructure components (e.g. poles for catenary systems or signalisation, building material for platform or bridges); points out that this also includes R&I activities aimed at developing a substance for impregnating wooden sleepers that can serve as an alternative to creosote, the use of which will, under EU legislation, be abolished in 2018;

23.  Emphasises that new approaches to mobility cannot be imposed and that, in order to promote more sustainable behaviour, there is a need for stronger research efforts in to the fields of eco-social knowledge and urban and spatial planning, and in technologies in the fields of mobility demand and behavioural change aimed at better control of transport flows, through, inter alia, innovative mobility management instruments, seamless door-to-door mobility chains that answer to users’ requirements, ecological and intelligent driving systems, and the use of real-time information and communication technologies;

24.  Considers it essential for local and regional authorities to be involved in European innovation policy governance as it applies to transport and mobility; points out that such public authorities can bring their experience and expertise to bear both in integrating technologies, infrastructure, vehicles and passengers and in fostering new social habits where mobility is concerned; notes that local and regional authorities can identify, and are tasked to manage, the most acute mobility problems, that they are constantly testing and inaugurating good practices and innovative ideas, and that, given the variety of situations with which they have to deal, they are especially familiar with innovation;

25.  Underlines the need for research on fair intra- and intermodal competition in the transport sector, and on the barriers created by vested interests linked to current business models, including, in particular, research on the technological tools needed to improve the consistent and effective enforcement of, and controls on, the rules on cabotage, the social provisions in road transport and the working conditions of persons employed in the sector;

26.  Emphasises that innovative solutions to reduce noise from all transport modes, in particular at the source, are urgently needed in order to protect the health and quality of life of EU citizens and ensure acceptance among the population; recalls emphatically, in this context, its resolution on a Single European Transport Area, which called for the reduction by 2020 of noise and vibrations from, and energy consumption of, rail vehicles by 20 % relative to the reference values for 2010, and stresses once again that noise emissions should, from the outset, play a prominent part in the development of new technologies, strategies and infrastructure in the field of transport;

27.  Is convinced that innovative technologies addressing the interaction between infrastructure and vehicles can play a significant role in reducing accidents, noise and vibrations, energy consumption, gas emissions and climate impact;

28.  Confirms that efforts to achieve cleaner power for transport and mobility technologies should be linked to more efficient concepts and to better vehicle design; underlines the potential for energy savings through the use of innovative ideas, such as energy harvesting measures that take advantage of the opportunities offered by renewables and the use of alternative fuels;

29.  Stresses the need not only to think about building a new transport infrastructure but, in research and development strategies, explicitly to take into account the aspects of repair, maintenance and upgrading (e.g. by equipping it with components for intelligent traffic management and ‘car to infrastructure’ technology);

30.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to invest in intelligent transport system (ITS) research and see to it that it is carried out, thereby helping to reduce traffic congestion, increase European transport eco-efficiency and improve safety standards;

31.  Calls on the Commission to consider the harmonisation of containers and other transport receptacles, and the dimensions of vehicles in all modes of transport, in order to promote the objective of interoperability and intermodality;

32.  Calls on the Commission to provide Member States with a manual of best practice for compliance with the limit values laid down in the Air Quality Directive;

Specific measures

33.  Acknowledges the importance of R&I in the area of individual mobility and stresses that the behaviour of transport users is decisive; calls for the creation of incentives to choose sustainable, physically active, safe and healthy means of transport and mobility, in order to develop innovative approaches that promote environmentally friendly public transport, walking and cycling, taking into account the needs and specificities of urban, peri-urban, interurban and rural areas; considers it important to improve interoperability between transport services, and believes that approval authorities will need to be particularly alert to, and deal promptly with, such technical or administrative problems as might arise, the object being to open up the market to new transport options matching the above characteristics;

34.  Underlines the need for the EU institutions to set examples of good practice within their own mobility management services and to manage the necessary effort and its fruits in a transparent way, making this their hallmark;

35.  Stresses the need to promote successful practices in the field of sustainable transport and to step up cooperation and exchange of good practices between regions with similar development potentials; recommends that local authorities build on examples of good practice by developing sustainable urban mobility plans in close consultation with civil society;

36.  Believes that European satellite navigation systems such as Galileo should be a major pillar for developing intelligent and efficient transport in Europe;

37.  Supports R&I that can contribute to a shift from vehicle ownership towards unconventional user behaviour and new forms of transport-related services, such as car- and bike-sharing; encourages the Commission to intensify its promotion of collective forms of individual mobility and of individualised public and collective transport systems;

38.  Calls for research to extend to the tax and administrative sphere in order to pave the way for creative incentives in terms of taxes, fees and public tariffs aimed both at private individuals and at manufacturers or providers of products, services, and/or content, with a view to encouraging cycling and walking, when suitable in combination with public transport and other forms of sustainable mobility;

39.  Highlights once again the need to improve and promote multimodal transport through integrated and electronic information and ticketing schemes, based on open-data solutions; points out that research and innovation in this field should particularly be geared to freedom from barriers, interoperability, affordability, price transparency, user-friendliness and efficiency;

40.  Stresses the need to develop innovative long-lasting infrastructure solutions – including greater development of information, payment and reservation systems – that particularly take into account barrier-free accessibility for all passengers, and specifically for disabled people and persons with reduced mobility (PRMs) such as users with wheelchairs, buggies, bicycles or heavy luggage;

41.  Advocates making data on timetables and delays in public transport freely available, allowing third parties to develop telematics applications that can offer further convenience to passenger, such as real-time information on how to reach a specific destination using different modes of transport, or a comparison of the ecological footprints of different modes of transport when travelling to a specific destination;

42.  Stresses that, when it comes to developing innovation for transport and mobility in urban and residential areas, focus should be placed on health and quality of life, including a fair share of space for all, reduced noise and cleaner air;

43.  Reminds the Commission of the urgent need to improve safety for all road users, in particular the most vulnerable ones, such as children, elderly people, pedestrians, cyclists and people with disabilities or reduced mobility; endorses R&I projects that combine technological solutions with intelligent drivers and their behavioural approaches;

44.  Believes that in order to ease traffic congestion in urban areas and heavily built–up regions, it is important not only to increase the efficiency of existing means of transport but also, through technological progress, to pinpoint alternative transport solutions and promote their use;

45.  Encourages the Commission strongly to promote innovation in the field of zero-emission ships, in particular ferries, cruise liners and maritime ships, based on the use of renewable energies from wind, solar and wave power, and linked with fuel-cell technologies;

46.  Calls on the Commission to focus research efforts on further reducing the health and climate impact of emissions from all modes of transport;

47.  Considers that a coherent and efficient European transport-technology strategy must be in line with the EU 2020 Strategy (COM(2010)2020) and the 1990 reduction targets, as well as being in full compliance with the 2011 White Paper on Transport, ‘Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system’ (COM(2011)0144), in terms of territorial cohesion and balanced development; believes that it should permit reductions in energy consumption, traffic noise, traffic needs, air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions; maintains that if the EU is to achieve those ends it will need to set firm targets for 2020, 2030 and 2050;

48.  Stresses the need to reinforce R&I in the field of inland navigation, namely in order to develop clean vessels and technologies adapted to low-draught navigation such as River Adapted Ships for Sustainable Inland Navigation (RASSIN), which would allow savings to be made in inland waterway infrastructure;

49.  Welcomes the Commission’s proposal for the establishment of a Transport Research and Innovation Monitoring and Information System (TRIMIS); underlines the importance of providing regular, free, easily accessible and reliable information to regional policymakers; regrets the fact that to date it is still very difficult to access information concerning EU funding for transport projects;

50.  Recommends that the Commission develop initiatives to identify and reward sustainable urban development programmes, along the lines of, for example, the RegioStars awards;

51.  Stresses that a comprehensive European strategy must be supported from the bottom up, by well-prepared integrated transport strategies on the part of local and regional authorities and national governments; takes the view that the design of such strategies should be supported by the European funds;

52.  Considers that all public support should be provided in accordance with relevant European legislation on State aid, including rules on research, development and innovation activities, and on the funding of transport activities and infrastructure; takes the view, however, that the EU’s State aid rules should also take adequate account of the specific disadvantages of certain regions;

53.  Highlights the need for the Commission to improve its activities in the transfer of knowledge resulting from R&I activities to interested users (such as SMEs or research institutes) by creating a clustered database providing a clear categorised overview of all R&I projects funded by the EU;

54.  Stresses the importance of new initiatives such as the pooling of transport and logistics capacity with a view to more efficient goods transport; calls on the Commission to tackle the possible obstacles to such initiatives;

55.  Underlines the importance of emission standards for certain modes of transport, i.e. cars; takes the view that a similar approach should be explored for aviation and ships;

56.  Supports further R&I in the field of security solutions for the transport sector, provided that the principles of proportionality, non-discrimination and data protection are respected;

57.  Endorses and supports the approach proposed by the Commission with its measures for a European transport technology strategy; stresses, however, that this does not provide a legal basis for delegated legal acts or the like but that the Commission must propose measures for adoption under co-decision;

58.  Calls on the Commission to take into account the priorities set out in this report when preparing the European strategic transport-technology plan and options for further action;

o   o

59.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.

(1) OJ C 56 E, 26.2.2013, p. 54.

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