UK transport gives cautious welcome to EU White Paper

Tunbridge Wells, UK: The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has cautiously welcomed the overriding ambitions revealed in the European Commission’s long-awaited ten year Transport White Paper but has questioned the methodology behind some its objectives.

The paper, “Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – Towards a Competitive and Resource Efficient Transport System”, covers a broad range of issues, from the need to improve opportunities for modal switch, to the importance of greater port and airport capacity and the promotion of universal standards of safety and security in the maritime sector.

The report states that options for road decarbonisation are limited above 300km and it also recommends eliminating cabotage restrictions.

Chris Yarsley, FTA’s EU affairs manager, says:_”We question the reasoning behind picking 300km as the magic number above which road freight is no longer viable.  Equally, while lifting cabotage may be a fine idea in a harmonised Europe, UK operators pay by far the highest fuel duty in Europe and doing so would present a massive competitive disadvantage to UK registered operators.”

However, FTA agrees that Europe must play its part in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions in the face of a less sophisticated but rapidly growing transport sector in the developing world.

FTA also says that the EU ambitions of making greater use of rail and water options for freight where possible, whilst acknowledging that road will continue to play a crucial role, is “realistic and appropriate”.

The paper acknowledges that it is “important to improve truck efficiency”, whilst for long distance journeys the key opportunity lies in enabling modal alternatives “to become economically attractive for shippers.”__FTA agrees that there is significant opportunity to increase rail’s share of long distance freight movements and further endorses the suggestion that there is need for structural change across Europe to enable rail to compete effectively.  Similarly, the calls for greater airport and port capacity are welcome as they would improve the quality of Europe’s supply chain, adds FTA.

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