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EU presents new strategy to transform transport sector

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The European Commission has presented its new mobility strategy, charting a course for shipping and the rest of the European Union (EU) transport sector to exit the COVID-19 crisis.

The Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy lays the foundation for how the EU transport system can achieve its green and digital transformation and become more resilient to future crises.

As outlined in the European Green Deal, the result will be a 90 per cent cut in emissions by 2050, delivered by a ‘smart, competitive, safe, accessible and affordable transport system’.

Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, said: “To reach our climate targets, emissions from the transport sector must get on a clear downward trend. Today’s strategy will shift the way people and goods move across Europe and make it easy to combine different modes of transport in a single journey,”

“We’ve set ambitious targets for the entire transport system to ensure a sustainable, smart, and resilient return from the COVID-19 crisis.”

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As part of the European vision for the maritime sector, zero-emission ocean-going vessels will become market-ready by 2030. This is one of several concrete milestones for a smart and sustainable future of the European transport system.

To achieve this, the EU said it needs to boost the uptake of renewable and low-carbon fuels for waterborne transports without further delay. It also needs to support research and innovation (R&I) on competitive, sustainable and circular products and services, ensure that the right fuels are supplied by the industry, put in place the necessary infrastructure, and incentivise demand by end-users.

Waterborne transport has greater decarbonisation challenges in the next decades, due to the current lack of market-ready zero-emission technologies, long development and life cycles of vessels, the required significant investments in refueling equipment and infrastructure, and international competition in the sector.

The European Green Deal also calls for a substantial part of the 75% of inland freight carried today by road to shift to rail and inland waterways. Short-sea shipping and efficient zero-emission vehicles can also contribute to greening freight transport in Europe. The new strategy envisages that transport by inland waterways and short sea shipping will increase by 25% by 2030 and by 50% by 2050.

By 2030, rail and waterborne-based intermodal transport will be able to compete on equal footing with road-only transport in the EU. Additionally, all external costs of transport within the EU will be covered by the transport users at the latest by 2050.

To enhance maritime transport safety and security, the commission is also planning to initiate a major review of existing legislation on flag state responsibilities, port state control and accident investigation, together with the continued strengthening of EU rules on recognized organisations.

The overall objective is to enable safe, secure and efficient maritime transport with lower costs for businesses and administrations.

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