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Automobile industry supports holistic transport policy approach; rejects u-turn on ‘co-modality’ in White Paper


29 Mar 2011



Brussels, 28 March 2011 -- The ‘White Paper’ on transport published today by the European Commission in Brussels recognises that mobility and transportation will further boost economic growth and job creation while addressing major societal challenges including sustainable development, environmental protection and transport-related safety. The Commission, however, sends the wrong signal with regard to the acknowledged principle of ‘co-modality’, and ACEA calls for an urgent clarification to this respect.

Co-modality describes a transport system where, systematically, the most efficient mode of transport is used for each particular transport task, knowing that efficiency, rather than a prescription of transport means, will deliver the desired societal, economic and environmental results. This principle was enshrined as the main denominator of EU transport policy in the 2006 White Paper Mid-term Review after broad consensus that the previous ‘modal shift’ strategy failed the needs of society.

“The Commission, unfortunately, signals a policy u-turn”, said Ivan Hodac, Secretary General of the automobile industry’s trade association ACEA. In particular, the White Paper states that road freight transport in excess of 300 km should be shifted to rail or waterborne transport (30% by 2030, more than 50% by 2050) -- regardless of the actual factors steering the choice of transport mode; disregarding the eminent role of improving efficiency; without questioning the suitability and ability of the other modes to take on such task; and lacking foundation with respect to the environmental benefit (see also ‘note to editors’). A similarly one-legged position is taken for, among others, medium-distance passenger transport and inner-city access.

“A simple call for a decrease in the use of motor vehicles will not provide the easy solution it appears to be, because there will not be less demand for the flexible solutions that road transport provides in contrast to other modes”, said Hodac. “Road transport plays a capital role and cannot be confronted with arbitrary measures.”

Within CARS 21, policy makers and other major stakeholders, including the auto industry, are defining the regulatory framework for a competitive automobile industry in Europe that can fully contribute to the further transformation towards sustainable transport. Hodac: “Transport policy and CARS 21 should be part of the same equation: the EU needs integrated policies. All transport modes will need to increase efficiency and environmental performance. Vehicle manufacturers are delivering on that premise day after day.”

The Commission must also be cautious about setting technology-related targets, for example with regard to city access. “It is general practice that EU policy avoids predicting prematurely technology ‘winners’ and the White paper must adhere to that,” added Hodac. A technology-neutral policy approach reinforces the potential for overall technological progress, which is in the interests of EU society and the competitiveness of the EU economy.

Background information is available on ACEA website

For further information, please contact Sigrid de Vries, Director Communications ACEA +32 2 738 73 45 or
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