Appointment of Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas: Rail Industry welcomes strong commitment to de-carbonisation of transport sector, but concrete action has to be taken now

Date

10 Feb 2010

Sections

Transport

UNIFE, the European Rail industry, welcomes the appointment of the new College of Commissioners, and in particular the nomination of Siim Kallas as Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for Transport. Kallas’s strong commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector and his dedication to creating a truly interoperable and open European rail network are strongly supported by UNIFE. Now a strong commitment to modal shift in European transport is needed.

President Barroso set decarbonisation of the economy as a key objective of the European Union. In line with this goal, Mr Kallas stressed during his hearing the need of the transport sector to contribute to meeting the 2020 goals for Greenhouse Gas emissions (GHG). UNIFE Director-General Michael Clausecker welcomes this objective and calls on the new Commissioner for concrete action:

“Transport is currently responsible for around one-quarter of all CO2 emissions (27%) in the EU. If the EU is serious about meeting its CO2 emission reduction targets of 20% by 2020, it will have to reconsider its transport policy – a fact supported by a recent report by the European Environmental Agency (EEA) called “Climate for a transport change”. Rail as the least polluting mode of transport offers an obvious solution here. UNIFE therefore urges the Transport Commissioner to fully embrace a modal shift from road and air to rail for passenger and freight transport in Europe.” 

At the European Parliament, Kallas expressed his commitment to the internalisation of external costs, to market opening and to investments in sustainable transport systems. UNIFE calls upon Commissioner Kallas to take action in these three areas.

The internalisation of external costs must remain a priority of the European transport policy. The "polluter pays" principle is a key policy instrument to reduce the negative impacts of transport on the environment and to incentivise the decarbonisation of transport. Furthermore, a true level-playing field among the different modes of transport would benefit the European economy as a whole and demonstrate the true competitiveness of rail. As a concrete step toward the internalisation of external costs, UNIFE expects the Commissioner to unblock the Eurovignette dossier at the Council.

Mr Kallas furthermore committed to a market opening for rail in Europe. While important progress has been made and has borne its fruit in the most liberalised Member States, rail market opening across Europe remains uneven and sketchy. UNIFE believes that full rail market opening will induce market growth and therefore calls upon Mr Kallas to advance on the creation of a fully interoperable market for rail transport in Europe.

Finally, Mr Kallas’s commitment to an overall transport investment package, with a few large coherent set of projects substituting a multitude of non-affiliated singular projects, is highly welcomed by UNIFE. The review of the TEN-T guidelines presents in this regard an opportunity to enhance a competitive and fully interoperable trans-European rail network.

http://www.unife.org/press_release_detail.asp?n=Appointment-of-Transport-Commissioner-Siim-Kallas:-Rail-Industry-welcomes-strong-commitment-to-de-carbonisation-of-transport-sector,-but-concrete-action-has-to-be-taken-now&pid=44

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 For further information, please contact

Max Obenaus

UNIFE Head of Communications

221, avenue Louise

B-1050 Brussels

max.obenaus@unife.org