Promoting sustainable, clean and energy efficient transport can strengthen EU economy
Integrated, low emission, cross-border transport systems can make a major contribution to promoting green growth in Europe, says José Palma Andres.
Cohesion policy has historically been a major source of finance for improved transport in regions across the EU. Under cohesion policy for 2014-2020 this will continue as regions concentrate their support on a limited number of objectives in line with Europe 2020, the EU's strategy to promote smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.
The EU is helping improve citizens' quality of life and strengthen the economy by promoting sustainable urban mobility and increased use of clean and energy efficient vehicles. This can be done through a mix of measures, such as early deployment of grid infrastructures of electrical mobility and intelligent traffic management. Another example is the reduction of CO2 emissions for road vehicles including the launch of a major European "green" car initiative. This will help promote new technologies, including electric and hybrid cars, through a mix of research, common standards setting and development of necessary infrastructure support.
European territorial cooperation works to support these goals by facilitating regions and cities from different EU member states to work together and learn from each other through joint programmes, projects and networks. Cross-border cooperation programmes reduce the negative effects of borders as administrative, legal and physical barriers, tackle common problems and exploit untapped potential.
Transport systems in Europe have traditionally developed along national lines. However, while European cities and regions are very different, they do have similar needs. Developing integrated solutions through cross-border cooperation allow the regions and the industry to deliver what the citizens need. There are several examples of successful cross-border cooperation projects in this domain.
In Sweden and Norway, local and regional authorities, together with companies and entrepreneurs, are working to create the world's first 'green highway'. The aim is a fossil-free transport corridor across mid-Scandinavia by 2020. Another project, Infragreen, aims at promoting the use of biogas fuel and to catalyse the development of an infrastructure for electronic vehicle charging stations in the cross-border area between southern Sweden and Norway.
In Spain and Portugal, project MOBI2GRID aims at developing and implementing an integrated and interoperative cross-border mobility system with the development of a pilot test with electric vehicles in the Vigo-Porto corridor of electric mobility. Project MOBI.Europe, which is funded by the competitiveness and innovation framework programme, works synergistically with MOBI2GRID. It is an integration project based on ICT systems that aims to guarantee interoperability of electro-mobility services across countries.
This example shows that there are opportunities for complementarity between different funding instruments in a number of different circumstances. For the programming period 2014-2020, separate but related activities or parts of a project can be funded by the European structural and investment funds, Horizon 2020 or the programme for the competitiveness of enterprises and SMEs.
" Europe needs to create the conditions for greener growth thanks to a more competitive, integrated and cross-border transport system providing increased mobility, lower emissions, reduced dependence on fossil fuel, and improved infrastructure"
The new programming period 2014-2020 will also include the connecting Europe facility, which is designed to enhance cross-border projects in energy, transport and information technology. Focussing on less polluting transport modes will constitute an incentive for the European transport system to become more sustainable. It will also give consumers more choices on how to travel.
Looking to the future, Europe needs to create the conditions for greener growth thanks to a more competitive, integrated and cross-border transport system providing increased mobility, lower emissions, reduced dependence on fossil fuel, and improved infrastructure. Certainly, transportation modes of tomorrow will be different from what we have today.
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