Green and digital road transport: Where does the EU stand?
by Fabio Barbero on 31 Mar 2022
As the European Union seeks to achieve zero-emission road transport in cities, we explore what proposals on infrastructure, multi-modal travel and mobility data mean for passengers, industry, and other stakeholders.
This blog focuses on four policies: the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation, the Multimodal Digital Mobility Services Regulation, the Intelligent Transport Systems Directive, and the New Urban Mobility Framework. It analyses what they aim to achieve, why technology companies have a stake, the issues of contention, and how stakeholders can influence the process.
In July 2021, the European Commission published a proposal for an Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR). The text proposes binding targets for publicly accessible electric recharging stations and hydrogen refuelling stations. Among other things, it requires the power output provided in every country through recharging stations be linked to the number of electric and hybrid vehicles in each Member State and it mandates “recharging pools” within a 60 km-distance in-between them.
AFIR will mainly impact five groups of stakeholders: carmakers, recharging points operators, energy companies, shared mobility providers, and consumers. They all have an interest in how much and what kind of infrastructure AFIR will mandate. Among policymakers, the main disagreements revolve around:
- if and how the Commission’s targets should be increased, and how to deal with non-compliance
- how interoperable the infrastructure will be
- how shared mobility services will be able to use recharging infrastructure
- how information about recharging infrastructure will be made available across the EU
- how AFIR will interact the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, which contains requirements for recharging points in private buildings
In the next months, the Rapporteur on the file, the German MEP Ismail Ertug, will need to reach a compromise in the Transport and Tourism (TRAN) Committee. Within the Council of the EU, the Czech Presidency will pick up the baton from the French and lead the negotiations. The lobbying process will be threefold: with MEPs in the TRAN Committee, who will vote on the Parliament’s position in mid-May 2022; with countries’ attachés; and through business coalitions of like-minded companies.
Making travel seamless across modes of transport
The European Commission aims to achieve “seamless multimodal passenger transport. To do so, in Q4 2022 it will publish a proposal for a Regulation on Multimodal Digital Mobility Services (MDMS). The MDMS Regulation seeks to facilitate access to information, booking and payment of mobility services to help passengers and intermediaries compare different travel options, choices and prices, and facilitate the sale and re-sale of mobility products from different operators and transport modes.
The Regulation will impact: private and public transport operators; shared mobility and micro-mobility providers; travel intermediaries and information services; ticket vendors; metasearch engines; and mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) applications. Among other things, it will need to:
- clarify the conditions for re-selling mobility products (e.g. regarding fees); and how mobility data will be re-used
- address anti-competitive practices, like refusing to integrate another operator’s offer in multimodal applications
- provide passengers with information on the sustainability of journeys.
Companies will have several formal and informal options to influence the process: through the recently established Expert Group on Multimodality; by providing their input into an upcoming support study that the European Commission will conduct shortly; by engaging with the responsible Unit in the Commission’s Directorate General for Mobility – the Intelligent Transport Systems Unit. After the text is published, by providing their views via the feedback consultation and by engaging with the Transport and Tourism Committee (TRAN) in the European Parliament and the members of Council’s Working Party on Transport and Intermodal Questions and Networks.
Harnessing the power of data
The European Commission is looking into how mobility data is made available, used, and shared through the review of the Intelligent Transport Systems Directive (ITS) and through an upcoming Regulation to facilitate access to in-vehicle data. Among other things, the ITS review proposes that EU Member States make available data about traffic regulations, real-time traffic information and events related to road safety, circulation plans, permanent access restrictions, and the availability of parking places. It will also include in its scope data exchange for multimodal and automated mobility. Regarding access to in-vehicle data, the European Commission has opened a call for evidence to collect views from stakeholders on what a future Regulation (expected by the end of 2022) will look like.
These files will impact: car makers, infrastructure and mobility operators, as well as booking and ticketing apps. Policymakers and the industry will need to work together to establish standards, common definitions, data formats, quality requirements, and data exchange conditions. Policy-makers will also need to decide how data is shared with authorities – a question that the EU is also addressing, more generally, through Data Act (see here our analysis) and through the announced EU common “mobility data space”.
At the European Parliament, the Transport and Tourism Committee (TRAN) is the responsible Committee, and negotiations will start shortly under the lead of Romanian MEP Rovana Plumb. In the Council, work has begun under the French Presidency, but negotiations will likely continue with the Czech and Swedish Presidencies. Given the leeway that Member States will have in implementing the Directive, engaging with countries’ attachés will be key.
Achieving sustainable mobility across EU cities
To achieve sustainable urban transport, the EU published a New Urban Mobility Framework (NUMF), which will replace the 2013 Urban Mobility Framework. Among other initiatives, NUMF strengthens the role of Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs), 10-year strategic programmes that seek to develop sustainable integrated transport modes, across EU cities.
While the 2013 framework left to Member States the decision to make SUMPs mandatory, the NUMF mandates their adoption for 424 major “urban nodes” across the EU. SUMPs will outline cities’ mobility plans, including how to make public space available for mobility operators, how to integrate mobility services, helping companies to understand cities’ needs and ambitions.
The extent to which companies will benefit from the new SUMPs will depend largely on how the EU will manage to promote harmonised plans across cities. In 2022, the European Commission will publish a set of recommendations on how Member States should implement SUMPs: mobility operators will have an interest in engaging with the Innovation and Research Unit at the Commission’s Directorate-General for Mobility, responsible for the file. Lastly, companies may want to bring their expertise in EU-funded initiatives such as CIVITAS, which brings together local stakeholders involved in sustainable mobility across EU cities.
The EU has taken bold steps towards aligning the road transport system with its ambitious sustainability targets. The policies analysed in this blog provide opportunities for mobility companies to lobby: given the technical issues at stake, the EU will need to rely heavily on the experience, data and standards that only the private sector can provide. With negotiations ongoing on these files, 2022 will be a key year for mobility companies to engage with policymakers at all levels.
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