There are many challenges to developing a coherent set of transport policies. We all need transport on a daily basis, as does business for moving around the goods that we all eventually consume. At the same time, there are physical and environmental trade-offs to be made when facilitating travel, while the use of transport infrastructure can have adverse social, economic and environmental impacts. Balancing these issues requires a strategic approach that aims to deliver the benefits of transport, while mitigating, or potentially eliminating, any adverse impacts.  

The EU policy framework – the 2011 White Paper

In 2011, the European Commission published the latest in a series of transport White Papers that aim to set the strategic direction for transport policy in the EU. Unlike the 2001 White Paper, the 2011 version had, at its core, the need to reduce transport’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to levels that scientists believed was necessary to limit global warming. In addition, the White Paper aimed to complete the pan-European transport network, to deliver modal shift to more energy-efficient modes of transport and to bring about a significant reduction in deaths from accidents. It also aimed to improve the management of traffic and the way in which transport was taxed and charged.

The contents of the White Paper

In order to support the achievement of these high-level goals, the White Paper contained a series of initiatives. While many of the White Paper’s high-level goals were for 2050, the initiatives focused on the short-term, typically the next decade. In this way, the initiatives aimed to set the EU on the path to delivering the long-term goals. These initiatives covered many of the policy areas on which TEPR has worked in the last decade, including reducing CO2 emissions from cars, public procurement, consumer information and infrastructure charging.

Developments since the White Paper

As the short-term initiatives have been implemented, there have been a range of other developments that affect, or will influence, the development of transport in the EU. Scientists monitoring climate change have concluded that GHG emissions need to be reduced faster than had previously been thought, a conclusion to which governments signed up to in the so-called ‘Paris Agreement’. Transport technology has also been developing rapidly, as more, and a wider range of, electric vehicles for different modes are coming onto the market or are under development. Developments in automation have raised the prospect of driverless vehicles, while emissions from transport are still causing air quality problems.

Evaluating the White Paper

Many of the Transport White Paper’s initiatives were to be put in place by 2020. As these were only meant to be a first step on the road to delivering the White Paper’s longer-term, high-level goals, the European Commission evaluated the White Paper in 2020/21. The aim was to identify the progress to date, while reflecting on the implications of the wider changes that were affecting the EU’s transport system. TEPR was part of the consortium that supported the Commission in its evaluation of the 2011 Transport White Paper. The final report on the evaluation of the White Paper can be found here.

Further information

For more information on the project, or TEPR’s work more generally, please contact Ian Skinner at TEPR (ian.skinner@tepr.co.uk) or call +44 (0)7521 063324.

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