1. Promoting mobility in Europe
Mobility is a first-class driver of economic growth. Take, for example, logistics: for years, the logistics branch has been constantly creating new jobs. With a turnover of EUR 960 billion, logistics is ranked third in Europe behind the construction and food industries. A smooth cross-border traffic flow not only facilitates the exchange of goods between producers and consumers, but is also a precondition of employment and prosperity in Europe.
Besides its importance for business, increasing mobility also plays a major part in the success of European integration. Border barriers are largely a thing of the past; the freedom of movement and residence enables EU citizens to find employment and enjoy a secure lifestyle far from their country of origin. The growing potential for an individual development results in increasing mobility demands that require European solutions.
However, mobility within the EU only seems to have no borders at first glance. When it comes to traffic laws and violations, or regulations on fines, each individual country continues to apply its own particular standards. That makes travelling across Europe a bewildering experience, where travelers sometimes have to face contradictory traffic laws. The EAC is calling for greater clarity in EU traffic law and is developing viable solutions to meet the challenges of growth in the transport sector – an approach supporting and promoting mobility in Europe.
2. Harmonizing Traffic Laws
A journey across Europe is subject to a range of different national traffic regulations. For example, each Member State applies its own road charging system for passenger cars and it is sometimes hard to find one’s way through this ‘toll jungle’. Not only do the type of tolls vary from charges calculated by distance travelled to a single flat-rate fee in the form of a vignette (a sticker displayed on the windscreen), a special fee for using a bridge or tunnel, or a congestion charge for inner cities, but the vehicle categories for the toll rate are differently defined in different countries.
For car drivers, these many different toll systems represent a burden and an obstacle to their mobility which stands in the way of unhampered cross-border passenger car traffic in Europe. For this reason, the EAC calls for the introduction of standardized pan-European criteria for passenger car tolls in the medium term. A common European toll system for passenger cars can promote mobility between the Member States and create the basis for the effective use and transparent funding of our infrastructure.
Achieving realistic agreements
A pragmatic and cost-conscious approach is needed to harmonize the core road traffic regulations across Europe. In the EAC's view, that means coordinating laws where this encourages transparency and comprehensibility – and avoiding over-regulation where the harmonization process is too complex or disproportionate.
3. Improving road safety
The EU Commission has set the targets itself. Taking the 2010 figures as a baseline and despite increasing traffic density, the number of fatalities on European roads is to be halved by 2020 – a goal, that is fully and unconditionally supported by the EAC.
Intelligent vehicle technologies have a special role to play. From 31 March 2018 onwards new models of passenger cars and light duty vehicles have to be equipped with eCall. In case of a serious road accident, the eCall system automatically dials Europe's single emergency number 112 and helps to provide immediate help in order to reduce the number of fatalities. Furthermore we face a progressing development in the field of automated and – in the long term – autonomous driving. Increasing data exchange both between cars (C2C) and cars and infrastructure (C2I) opens up new dimensions to prevent accidents and makes traffic safer.
Driving forward reliable safety technologies
User-friendly technologies could save lives. However, it is necessary to ensure that the various intelligent vehicle systems are compatible throughout Europe. Moreover, there needs to be consistent standards set for licensing and registering such systems. These two conditions have to be met before car drivers can rely totally on security technologies when travelling in neighbouring countries. Last but not least, measures have to be taken to safeguard consumers' rights – for example, ensuring the effective protection of personal data in automatic registration systems. This too is a focus of the EAC's efforts.
4. Finding sustainable solutions
There's no doubt: sustainable growth is the basis of increased transportation and mobility. The EAC is calling for a transport policy where solutions balance economic, ecological and social factors.
Every mode of transport needs to be optimally used. For example, in inner cities with large numbers of people, this means improving the quality and appeal of the public transport system. At the same time, the infrastructure for cyclists ought to be further developed, from cycle routes and paths to better bike parking facilities. In rural areas, though, a car is indispensable, both now and in the future. In this case, the aim must be to increase the efficiency of car use. Smart mobility management that encourages carpooling and optimally aligned modes of transport to promote intermodal mobility patterns is the key.
The EAC is committed to sustainable traffic concepts that take account of all road users. Europe offers the chance of learning from one another. How are other countries coping with these challenges? What ideas on efficient and sustainable mobility are they developing? What can be transferred to the European level? In the coming years, as a partner for mobility, the EAC will be driving forward this dialogue and exchange of knowledge.