The COVID-19 outbreak has seen an unprecedented impact on the transport sector in the EU. Due to national containment measures, travel restrictions and the closure of border crossings, passenger transport is at a standstill and trade flows are severely impacted. In order to help EU citizens and businesses, the Commission has issued several contingency measures to support the transport sector, e.g. by identifying green freight lanes, issuing guidelines on passenger rights and allowing financial relief under the temporary state aid framework.
In this context, Dr2 Consultants organized a dedicated transport webinar on 7 May 2020, focusing on the question how to reinstate the EU’s transport industry in a post COVID-19 era, in order to ensure the transport sector can enable economic growth, secure jobs, increase global competitiveness and allow people and goods to move across Europe and beyond. Mr. Daniel Mes, Member of the Cabinet of Executive Vice-President on the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, responsible for the transport portfolio, and Mr. Jan-Christoph Oetjen, Member of the European Parliament (Renew Europe) and Vice-Chair of the Committee for Transport and Tourism took part in the panel discussion and shared their views on the subject.
The main takeaways from the webinar are:
- The Commission is working on a coordinated exit strategy in which all modes of transport are covered, including practical advice on how to restart operations while ensuring the safety of the passengers;
- It is crucial that the transport sector returns to its old strength and becomes even more resilient. It is a joint effort by the EU and its Member States to ensure the European transport sector remains competitive on a global level;
- Mr. Mes highlighted the need for political guidance when national measures are taken to ensure consistency in sectoral investments. The transport sector will be dependent on both public as well as private investments, which the Commission will aim to mobilize;
- Both speakers highlighted that transport will be one of the main pillars in the green recovery of the European economy. Mr. Oetjen emphasized the need for using a mix of transport modes based on their characteristics and respective advantages. Mr. Mes stated that it is key to ensure that the recovery of the transport sector is green recovery, and conditions can be attached to financial aid received by the sector.
As the webinar was recorded, please find the playback link here.
As a next step, the Commission is expected to publish a follow-up to its ‘European roadmap towards lifting coronavirus containment measures’ on Wednesday 13 May, which will entail a broad package of recommendations aimed at reinstating connectivity and tourism. The package will include a Communication on tourism, protocols on health and safety for main tourism locations, guidance on safe and healthy resumption of passenger transport and guidance on lifting of international borders. The package is also expected to include an assessment of the application of the temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU.