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At its today’s sitting, the European Union Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) decided to support the Government’s views on the European transport plan “Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy” that lays the foundation for further development of the European transport sector. The Strategy underlines that the most serious task is to reduce CO2 emissions significantly and to make the sector sustainable.

Chairman of the European Union Affairs Committee Siim Kallas said that transport strategy was a topic that was very close to his heart, because the previous strategy, which was completed in 2011, had belonged to his sphere of responsibility as the Commissioner for Transport. “The previous and the present strategy differ by several details, but there is one important difference in emphasis. At that time, the whole strategy was focused on organising smooth mobility, because the colossal problem of Europe was congestion – in the streets, in aviation and in shipping. In the new strategy, the focus has shifted on reducing CO2. It was important also in the first strategy, but now it ranks first among the priorities,” Kallas said.

The Chairman pointed out that transport held an important place among the expenses of European families, and thus it concerned us all. “Having been closely involved in the topic, I can imagine how complicated it will be to reach the objectives of the strategy,” Kallas added. “The new strategy has set the target of shifting 75% of inland freight carried by road to rail and inland waterways. This is a serious task. It will also be very complicated to implement the ‘polluter pays’ and ‘user pays’ principles. Putting it to practice in such a way that it will be equal is a problem.” He admitted that so far there had been no great progress regarding the unfair competition conditions of railways and inland waterways, or the Single Sky. “Europe urgently needs that planes are controlled via satellites because this would reduce both time and pollution.”

Deputy Chair of the European Union Affairs Committee Riina Sikkut said that the Strategy was structured around the objective of achieving a 90% reduction of CO2 emissions in comparison to 1990 by 2050. “The amount of emissions has been reduced to a great extent, but at the same time transport is the only sector where it has grown since 2013,” Sikkut explained.

“With the Strategy, the European Union will assume ambitious objectives, like at least 30 million zero-emission cars by 2030, doubling of high-speed rail traffic, zero-emission marine vessels will be ready for market by 2030 and zero-emission large aircraft by 2035,” the Deputy Chair pointed out. She thinks that the Strategy will have a positive impact on international cooperation because we can promote cooperation models for digitalisation of mobility and complete such sustainable cross-border connections like Rail Baltic. “Reduction of transport emissions is one of the most complicated tasks, therefore all possibilities must be used to achieve it. High-speed rail connections are an effective alternative for flying and for private vehicles. It is necessary to make efforts for transition from road transport to more rail transport,” Sikkut added.

The Environment Committee and the Economic Affairs Committee, who supported the views of the Government, also submitted their positions on the Strategy to the European Union Affairs Committee. The Environment Committee wanted to clarify the position on marine fuels, according to which Estonia supported the harmonisation of the environmental requirements on marine fuels across the EU. The Committee added a clarification that it was proposed to introduce the stricter requirements on marine fuel in force in the Baltic Sea region also in the Mediterranean, and not to mitigate the requirements here. In the Baltic Sea region, it is allowed to use only heavy fuel with 0.1% sulphur content, in other regions, cheaper fuel with 0.5% content is used. Thus, the amendment would increase the competitiveness of the companies operating on the Baltic Sea.

The European Union Affairs Committee decided to support the views of the Government regarding the European transport plan “Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy” in accordance with the proposal of the Environment Committee.

82 initiatives have been submitted for achieving the objectives of the Strategy. The European Commission intends to submit the planned draft legislation and sectoral strategies in 2021–2024.

Riigikogu Press Service
Merilin Kruuse
Phone: +372 631 6592, +372 510 6179
E-mail: [email protected]
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