16 June 2011

CLECAT comments on the Commission's White Paper

CLECAT published today the comprehensive comments on the European Commission's White Paper.

From the CLECAT comments:

"CLECAT’s view is that whilst the White Paper may show some flaws, its main foundations are sound, especially the premise that transport and oil must no longer be synonyms, whether oil will cease to be the global prime energy source or not, is very important. We would like to add that this is a strategic decision for the EU, considering the EU will just never be independently rich in oil. The moment the EU breaks free from its dependency on oil is never too soon.

Other themes such as the reductions in emissions and resolving congestion are obviously pertinent since relevant to all scenarios and should therefore be further explored and developed in future concrete actions. This is the area where probably there is an over reliance on charging policy. This will possibly procure higher revenues, but it is unlikely to steer the modal choices alone and more has to be done in order to make other modes attractive. We have spent certainly too much time and money in making road transport unattractive in the past, without any success. This White Paper should use its modal integration approach to finally dispose of the concept that some modes of transport are “better” than others. Firstly, because this is not true if we take a comprehensive look at their impact, and secondly, because we need them all to perform better in future.

The White Paper in many ways is looking back on history to solve our forthcoming problems. It relies on rail and maritime to resolve the twin problems of maintaining distribution to ensure prosperity and reduce emissions. However it needs to be noted that the Commission’s expectations in the performance of these modes may be exaggerated and overrated, especially in freight movements. For example most rail freight is still far from being low in emissions, as it mainly moves burning diesel, even when we do not consider the noise factor.

The key issue will be how these plans will:

  • Be adapted to meet the sector’s concerns whilst reaching a balance with societal needs
  • Be implemented through concrete actions with detailed deadlines
  • Be used to develop new processes, regimes and conventions to facilitate the movement of cargo

What CLECAT strongly believes is that the transport industry needs a more prominent place in the EU policy agenda. In this light closer dialogue with the Commission is required in order to influence the overall policy, without forgetting that the private sector appreciates any attempts made to prevent these actions from becoming too bureaucratic. CLECAT Members can and will cooperate with the Commission to reach this important objective, which is essential for the EU to remain a principal global actor."

The full CLECAT answer is available here.

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