Forslag til europaparlaments- og rådsbeslutning om et europeisk jernbaneår (2021)
Proposal for a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on a European Year of Rail (2021)
BAKGRUNN (fra kommisjonsforslaget, engelsk utgave)
Reasons for and objectives of the proposal
In its Communication of 11 December 2019, the Commission set out a European Green Deal for the European Union and its citizens. This Communication resets the Commission’s commitment to tackling climate and environmental-related challenges that is this generation’s defining task. It is a new growth strategy that aims to transform the Union into a fair and prosperous society, with a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy where there are no net emissions of greenhouse gases in 2050 and where economic growth is decoupled from resource use. The European Green Deal is an integral part of this Commission’s strategy to implement the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda and the sustainable development goals. The objective of achieving a climate-neutral European Union by 2050 was endorsed by the European Council in its conclusions of 12 December 2019 and by the European Parliament in its resolution of 15 January 2020.
The European Green Deal calls in particular for accelerating the shift to sustainable and smart mobility, as transport accounts for a quarter of the Union’s greenhouse gas emissions, and still growing. To achieve climate neutrality, a 90% reduction in transport emissions is needed by 2050. All transport modes will have to contribute to the reduction. As part of the European Green Deal, the Commission announced a strategy for sustainable and smart mobility, to be adopted in 2020, that will address this challenge and tackle all emission sources. Amongst other envisaged actions, a substantial part of the 75% of inland freight carried today by road should shift onto rail and inland waterways.
Rail has to play a significant role in accelerating the reduction in transport emissions, as one of the most environmentally friendly and energy-efficient transport modes. Indeed, rail is largely electrified and emits far less CO2 than equivalent travel by road or air. It is also the only mode to have almost continuously reduced CO2 emissions since 1990 despite increasing transport volumes: by 2016, it represented only 0.5% of the CO2 emissions from all transport modes. In addition, rail only accounts for 2% of total Union energy consumption in transport, while it carried 11.2% of freight and 6.6% of passengers of all transport modes in 2016. Rail has decreased its energy consumption between 1990-2016 and increasingly uses renewable energy sources.
While the share of passenger rail in Union land transport increased from 7.0% to 7.6% between 2007 and 2016, for freight, since the peak in 2011 (19%), the rail share in Union land freight has decreased to 16.65% in 2017. Many obstacles remain to achieve a true Single European Rail Area, including in respect of the need to minimise noise. Overcoming these obstacles together with cost reduction and accelerated innovation will allow rail to realise its full potential. Rail therefore needs a further boost to become more attractive to travellers and businesses as a mean of transport that meets both their daily and more long distance mobility needs. Increasing the share of passengers and freight moving by rail will also contribute to decreasing both congestion and emissions dangerous for human health, in particular air pollution.
The proposal to declare 2021 ‘European Year of Rail’ aims to promote rail transport in line with the objectives set out in the Commission Communication on the European Green Deal, including with regard to sustainable and smart mobility. Through projects, debates, events, exhibitions and initiatives across Europe, the European Year of Rail will promote rail as an attractive and sustainable way to move across Europe, to citizens, business and authorities, emphasising its Union wide and innovative dimension. By reaching out to citizens, beyond the railway sector, through dedicated events and communication campaigns, it will convince more people and businesses to make use of rail.
The year 2021 is an important year for the Union rail policy. It will be the first full year where the rules agreed under the Fourth Railway Package will be implemented throughout the EU, namely on the opening of the market of domestic passenger services and on reducing costs and administrative burden for railway undertakings operating across the EU. There is a growing public interest in railways, including in night trains, in a number of Member States, as also illustrated by the popularity of #DiscoverEU . Moreover, the international arts festival ‘Europalia’ will dedicate its 2021 edition to the influence of railways on the arts and highlight the role of rail as a powerful promotor of social, economic and industrial change. 2021 is therefore considered a very appropriate timing for this initiative.
As with all European Years in the past, the main objective is to raise awareness of the challenges and opportunities and highlight the role of the Union in promoting shared solutions. The objective of the European Year of Rail shall be to encourage and support the efforts of the Union, the Member States, regional and local authorities, and other organisations to increase the share of passengers and freight moving by rail. In particular the European Year should promote rail as a sustainable, innovative and safe mode of transport, by reaching out to the wider public, especially the youth. It should also highlight the European, cross-border dimension of rail, that brings citizens closer together, allows them to explore the Union in all its diversity, fosters cohesion and contributes to integrate the Union internal market. It should also enhance the contribution of rail to Union economy, industry and society at large, and promote rail as an important element of the relations between the Union and third countries, in particular in the Western Balkans.