The development of a coherent, cross-border transport infrastructure network has long been an objective of EU transport policy. Prior to joining the EU, countries had developed their transport infrastructure networks to suit national needs, whereas a pan-European network is needed to support a pan-European, integrated European economy. Hence, the trans-European transport network (TEN-T) was born.

Now, with the need to develop a transport system that is consistent with the EU’s decarbonisation ambitions for transport, the TEN-T needs to be developed to support a low carbon transport system. TEPR, as part of a wider consortium, supported the European Commission in the analysis of specific aspects of TEN-T policy to support the revision of the relevant legislative framework, the TEN-T Guidelines. The Commission published its proposal to revise the TEN-T Guidelines as part of December 2021’s Green Mobility package.  

The Current TEN-T Policy Framework

The EU’s TEN-T Guidelines, which set the framework for the development of the TEN-T, tend to be updated to coincide with major policy or budgetary developments. An important recent announcement – one of the first of the current European Commission – was the 2019 European Green Deal, which (amongst other things) committed the EU to reducing transport’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (i.e. those emissions that contribute to climate change) by at least 90% by 2050 in order to contribute to delivering a net climate neutral EU. The required transport policy framework to deliver this was subsequently set out in the Commission’s 2020 Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy.

At the same time, the European Commission has been developing other policy proposals in response to the EU’s decarbonisation ambitions for transport. In July 2021, it published proposals to revise the EU’s CO2 emission policy framework for cars and vans and the EU’s alternative fuel infrastructure policy framework (TEPR supported the Commission on the development of these two policies – see the respective links). Both of these proposals support the development of electric mobility, so an associated revision of the TEN-T Guidelines was necessary.

In parallel to the revision of the TEN-T, the Commission was also developing a proposal to amend the Intelligent Transport Systems Directive (on which TEPR also worked). The increased scope of the ITS proposal, which supports the digitalisation of transport, also needed to be reflected in the approach to the digitalisation of the TEN-T network, as set out in the proposed new TEN-T guidelines.

The proposed new TEN-T guidelines

The proposal for the new TEN-T Guidelines was published by the European Commission on 14th December 2021, alongside the proposal to amend the ITS Directive. The new Guidelines aim to support the more effective roll-out of the necessary recharging infrastructure for zero and low emission vehicles, whilst also ensuring that the TEN-T supports the ongoing digitalisation of transport. The importance of adapting the network to improve its resilience, including in response to the more severe and frequent natural disasters that are expected as a result of climate change, is also given a greater priority.

TEPR supporting the development of the EU’s TEN-T policy framework

The proposed TEN-T Guidelines are of fundamental importance to ensure that the EU’s transport infrastructure is ready to support the transition to a low carbon, digitalised transport system. Taking action at the EU level will ensure that the main transport arteries across the EU support low carbon transport, which will potentially have a knock-on effect on the wider transport network. TEPR supported the European Commission in the development of its revised TEN-T Guidelines. The report of the supporting study can be found on the relevant section of TEPR’s website.

For More Information

TEPR is an independent research consultancy that works on projects to improve the environmental performance of transport. For more details about the above project, or our work more generally, contact Ian Skinner at TEPR (ian.skinner@tepr.co.uk) or call +44 (0)7521 063324.

December 2021

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