Policymakers and industry experts discuss the EU’s Smart and Sustainable Mobility Strategy

A panel of industry experts, European Commission representatives, and Members of the European Parliament (MEP) debated the EU’s Smart and Sustainable Mobility Strategy on 13 April, with contributions from CLEPA’s Sigrid de Vries,  Ismael Ertug MEP (S&D, Germany) and Henna Virkkunen MEP (EPP, Finland), during a webinar hosted by the Forum For Mobility and Society (FMS).

The event was opened by Maja Bakran, Deputy Director-General DG MOVE, who addressed the three pillars of the Strategy to advance sustainable, smart and safe mobility as well as contribute to a strong and resilient economy in Europe.

Ertug, the FMS Co-chair, and as MEP responsible for drafting the reply to the Commission’s strategy, confirmed his commitment for zero-emission mobility and binding targets for recharging infrastructure.

CLEPA’s De Vries argued that the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy sets out the right legislative agenda, but said its elements need to be made more robust.

“We need higher quotas for sustainable renewable fuels in the revision of the Renewable Energy Directive, and binding targets for member states in the Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Directive to ensure the roll-out of charging and refuelling infrastructure in an even manner across the EU countries. Importantly: Every percentage point on top of the existing 2030 CO2 fleet target requires a corresponding increase in charging infrastructure. Finally, the energy Taxation Directive should be revised to tax carbon emissions, not energy content.”

The CLEPA position also calls for a crediting scheme, a mechanism allowing vehicle manufacturers to receive credits in exchange for investments in additional volumes of renewable fuels which would be counted towards achieving the CO2 fleet targets. “Such a mechanism promises to unlock the investments in sustainable renewable fuels, including hydrogen and synthetic fuels, which would bring their production to industrial scale”, said de Vries.

Michelin’s Valerie Bouillion, Strategic Hydrogen Initiative Leader at Michelin, shared CLEPA’s views for investment in renewable fuels and referred to hydrogen as “the oil of the future”, whilst also echoing calls for increases to targets and implementing binding commitments regarding hydrogen charging stations.

The role of innovation facilitated with a technology-neutral environment was also highlighted by De Vries. “Our members are powerhouses in innovation, and many are reforming their business models to facilitate change in line with the Green Deal. The options that are currently available regarding electrification will need to continue being complemented with climate-neutral and clean combustion energy technology. Considering only direct electrification to reach emissions targets will likely usher in a disruption in employment that would devastate livelihoods, particularly among sectors where skills are less transferable to new employment infrastructures. We are now interested in defining the how, where we must consider if we are forcing disruption or efficiently facilitating transformation.”

Henna Virkkunen MEP closed the debate acknowledging the key role to be played by investment in technology and innovation and expressing a hope that European cities will become hubs of co-operative innovation, while also emphasising the critical importance of technology neutrality within the EU, due to the diversified needs and demands across different EU regions.

The Commission’s EU Smart Mobility Strategy outlines the requirements and impositions for how the EU transport system will work towards 2050 through digital transformation and a reduction in CO2 emissions. As outlined in the European Green Deal, the result should be a 90% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050.

A recording of the FMS webinar is accessible via this link


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