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European transport: which directions beyond 2019?

Digitalisation, innovation and decarbonisation. These key words have been an integral part of the European Commission’s transport strategy in the last five years. Transport is the backbone of the economy and makes the European internal market possible.  

In the year of the European Parliamentary elections and the change at the helm of the European Commission, it is necessary to take stock of the past years and evaluate where the European transport sector is heading to. However, the Commission and the other EU institutions cannot set their strategies without close cooperation and open dialogue with industry stakeholders.  

Many of today’s challenges – such as sustainability – have a direct impact on the future of transport companies. Transport is Europe’s biggest source of carbon emissions, contributing around 25% to the EU’s total CO2 emissions and it is the only sector in which emissions have grown since 1990. Decarbonising transport is a major challenge: significant reductions in emissions in all transport modes are needed if the EU is to achieve its long-term climate goals. 

The European Commission has declared 2018 as the year of multimodality, to promote the functioning of the transport sector as a fullyintegrated system, making better use of existing capacities in all transport modes, and improving efficiency of the logistics chains.  

Modal shift, however, takes time and radically alters the paradigm: environmental considerations alone will not lead to changeEqually important, social aspectsthe role of the directly and indirectly employed people in the sector should always be in the centre.  

The EU has always been at the forefront of transport innovation, but in many cases regulation is hampering growth. Thus, the EU is missing the boat, while the rest of the world is leaving us behind.  The new Commission, therefore, will have to continue the efforts that have been started with a new approach to achieve better efficiencies within a shorter time frame and with close cooperation with the industry stakeholders to ensure that future transport is efficient, sustainable and safe for all Europeans.