Act One: Europe on the Move
As the EU is shifting towards a more integrated and multimodal mobility system, the European Commission is taking action to achieve a fundamental modernisation of the transport sector, first and foremost focusing on reducing transport emissions, in an overall framework known as the Strategy for Low-Emission Mobility. The first iteration of this initiative was presented as the ‘Europe on the Move’, colloquially known as the first Mobility Package, last May 2017. The initiatives aim to shape the road and mobility systems of the future by boosting competitiveness, strengthening social fairness and contributing towards the EU’s 2030 climate & energy framework and its commitment to the Paris Agreement. It is the first tangible building block of the overarching Strategy for Low-Emission Mobility, which was presented in July 2016. The latter will be completed by two more packages that will address the issue of decarbonisation through CO2 standards for cars and vans (published on 8 November) and, for the first time ever, for heavy-duty vehicles (first half 2018).
The initiatives in the first Mobility Package can be divided into two major pillars: on the one hand, a charging pillar, making the road haulage market more efficient and sustainable through promoting smart, harmonised and non-discriminatory road charging, and on the other hand, a market and social pillar, in an attempt to incorporate the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’. The Commission proposes new rules to better enforce driving times and weekly rests by ensuring adequate accommodation and regular returns to home, as well as to make existing cabotage rules better enforceable.
The proposed measures have already provoked a clash between Member States, with some of the mostly Western European governments considering the existing legislative framework as prone to social dumping and having consistently argued for stricter rules, whereas others, primarily Central and Eastern European Member States, considering their lower labour costs as a competitive advantage in the EU Single Market. Interestingly enough, the fault lines in Parliament also tend to correspond to national, rather than political party, affiliation.
The European Parliament is striving for reaching a common position on the majority of legislative proposals by June next year. The Estonian Council Presidency prioritised the social and market pillar. While the Council of Transport Ministers on 5 December discussed a progress report, a general approach is not expected until the upcoming Bulgarian Presidency, around March 2018. The co-legislators will then need to hammer out an interinstitutional agreement for the draft legislation to take effect.
Next week, we’ll shed light on the ‘Clean Mobility’ Package, also known as the second Mobility Package. In the meantime, infographics of the most important legislative initiatives in the Europe on the Move package can be found at the link below.
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