On Tuesday, at the second meeting chaired by Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer, EU transport ministers discussed ongoing projects and those that have been completed during Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Portugal’s Presidency, which will follow in the first half of 2021, also presented its programme.
One focus of discussions was the revision of the Eurovignette Directive. The Council is currently working to revise the Eurovignette Directive, under which road use tolls are to be calculated on the basis of CO2 emissions, to provide an incentive to use cleaner vehicles. To this end, Germany’s Presidency presented a proposal that the majority of ministers accepted. In the medium term, there are to be mandatory toll regulations for all heavy good vehicles with a maximum permissible load of over 3.5 tonnes – exceptions are envisaged for tradespersons’ vans and for zero emission vehicles.
Ministers also looked at the New Mobility Approach, under which Germany’s Presidency of the EU Council has launched an innovation strategy to realign mobility in Europe. It is seen as Germany’s response to the European Commission’s Green Deal, and brings together three goals: sustainability, mobility and digitalisation. This new approach is to be incorporated in the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy announced by the Commission.
Germany’s Presidency and the following Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU have announced a European Year of Rail in 2021. Against this background, the Federal Transport Ministry has elaborated the TransEuropExpress (TEE) 2.0 Strategy, which provides for cross-border regular interval services for European services including high-speed and overnight train services. Rail companies in Germany, Austria, France and Switzerland have already signed a declaration of intent to realise TEE 2.0.
Another key topic of the meeting concerned the reform of regulations governing a uniform European airspace. The aim is to make European air traffic management more efficient, flexible and sustainable. A new edition of the Single European Sky (SES) initiative is considered an indispensable building block for reducing CO2 emissions and thus a basic requirement for implementing the goals of the Commission's European Green Deal. Especially against the background of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become clear how important it is for air traffic planning to be flexible in order to be able to react more quickly to unpredictable traffic fluctuations. Other topics included the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on passenger rights and efforts to intensify international cooperation in order to facilitate crew changes and the repatriation of seafarers, which have been made more difficult by the COVID-19 pandemic.