Future EU transport policy should focus on passengers and workers

Tackling gender issues in the EU transport sector is just as important for ensuring its competitiveness as promoting sustainable urban mobility, writes Claudia Tapardel.

By Claudia Tapardel

01 Jul 2015

Four years ago, the commission rolled out a comprehensive strategy for a competitive transport system. As part of the so-called mid-term review of the 2011 white paper on transport, it is now looking at how valid its assumptions back then were.

Members of parliament's transport and tourism committee are expected to feed into the process through their stocktaking report on this strategic document.

This was set out to be a sort of appraisal exercise, and we seized the opportunity, calling for measures to speed up the implementation of a progressive transport system, able to cater to the increasing mobility needs of its users and also be responsive to energy security and environmental concerns.


We are still far from achieving the targets set for emissions reductions and decarbonisation. As the Paris climate summit approaches, we need to get our policy right. One thing is clear - restricting mobility is not an option.

But how do we sustainably support this increase in mobility and equip our transport system with the right tools to empower our citizens and our companies to move and compete globally?

Working as a shadow rapporteur on this file has helped me gain clarity on the issue. First, we must urgently set the right framework for urban mobility. As societies, cities are evolving and diverse, and they are spaces of wealth creation. 

Therefore, they are our best shot at finding solutions to the larger spectrum of challenges we must tackle, such as social inequalities, congestion, noise and air pollution.

Our transport system of the future must be a balanced multi-modal one, which prioritises cleaner modes and uses alternative fuels and the latest technologies, and it must focus on infrastructure and investment to improve access and connectivity, especially for peripheral regions. 

Road transport infrastructure should not be discarded, given its importance for road safety and cohesion countries. But the devil is in the details of agreeing on clear guidelines for its financing.

I called for the timely introduction of a social package in the white paper, which received the support of my colleagues. We need to address workers' rights in all modes of transport and ensure high quality transport jobs and working conditions. More importantly, we must tackle the costs and barriers that stop the workforce from entering the transport sector.

This brings me to the less obvious factors that need improvement, such as breaking the structural gender inequalities and promoting gender mainstreaming in the sector.

This covers pay-gaps, gender balance in decision-making, and enforcing equal treatment in the transport labour market. Urban planning could very much benefit from a better application of the gender aspect. 

A 'one size' travel pattern does not fit both men and women as science shows. Better differentiated statistics of how men and women travel on short and medium distances could be factored in impact assessments on future transport policy initiatives and measure and benefit urban policy.

These are all driving forces for the current negotiations. If we want the European transport sector to remain one of the best in the world, in order to enable jobs and growth, it needs to be able to operate optimally, competitively, and sustainably. But most of all, it needs to be organised around the needs of the passengers and users of transport services.