EC TO ATTACK LINK BETWEEN TRANSPORT GROWTH AND ECONOMIC GROWTH
The European Commission’s long-term transport policy proposals address the problems of tackling rising transport volumes triggered by economic growth, said Loyola de Palacio, commissioner for transport and energy.
De Palacio outlined the main points and priority actions of the European Commission’s “White Paper on European Transport Policy for 2010” in a speech to the Centro Logistico in Barcelona.
She said that the predominance of road transport in Europe has created congestion and harmful effects on the environment and public health.
“The white paper proposes to tackle this situation by gradually breaking the link between transport growth and economic growth,” De Palacio said. “The aim is to slow the increase of road transport until 2010 which would be of 50 percent if the current trend continues unabated.”
At the same time, the white paper aims to stimulate the growth of short sea shipping, rail and inland waterway transport, as well as increased intermodal transport.
“The expected increase in road freight of 38 percent until 2010 will far outstrip the existing and planned capacity in road infrastructure,” De Palacio said. “Road delays and congestion will therefore probably get worse.”
She urged maximum use of alternative transport modes to allow the movement of goods necessary to sustain and develop economic activities.
Acknowledging that rail freight has lost competitiveness compared to road transport in Europe, De Palacio said that the objective of the rail freight sector “must be to regain an image of a reliable, high quality service.”
She stressed the potential of short sea shipping.
“Already today, shipping carries about 40 percent of freight in Europe, and has witnessed the steepest growth rates even higher than road,” De Palacio said. “Shipping is reliable, has ample capacity, and its environmental impact is quite low. Besides, in terms of accidents, it has an excellent track record.”
The commissioner said that short sea shipping must become more integrated into the intermodal transport chain, and it must become as competitive as road transport.