THE NEWS SHEET OF THE EUROPEAN FEDERATION FOR TRANSPORT AND
No 66, March 1998
*EC and ministers get tough with car makers*
Europe's car makers have been told they have one last chance to
clean up their cars or they will be forced to do so by
A high-level workshop in Strasbourg last month - attended by four
commissioners, the British environment minister, the motor
industry, T&E and the EEB - made it clear that voluntary
agreements between the EU and the automotive industry would only
be tolerated if there were significant reductions in carbon
The Commission published a communication on CO2 emissions from
cars back in December 1995. It was strongly supported by the
Council of Ministers, which urged Brussels to embark on an
ambitious programme to reduce the average CO2 emissions from cars
to no more than 120 grams per kilometre by 2005.
Yet these reductions were to be achieved not by compulsory
legislation but by voluntary agreements with the automotive
industry. Since then, the best the European manufacturers'
association ACEA has offered is 167 g/km by 2005, which would
represent a 9% reduction between 1993 and 2005 (compared with 31%
if the 120 g/km target were met).
It seems the commissioners' and ministers' patience has now run
out. ACEA suggested it could make an improved offer to reduce
emissions in return for a guarantee that there would be no
regulatory measures - it was told there would be no such
guarantee, and there must be a much better offer (lower than 140
g/km) to prevent regulatory measures being taken soon.
The Commission gave indications about what any regulatory scheme
would involve. In particular, it would affect all cars,
including those whose CO2 emissions are currently the lowest.
As Bulletin went to press, ACEA made a new offer to the
environment commissioner Ritt Bjerregaard.
The offer is for an average of 140 g/km by 2008 (6
litres/100km for petrol, 5.3 for diesel), in other words right
on the EC's minimum acceptable limit but three years late.
The offer also has conditions, notably that there are no
negative measures against diesel cars, and that low-sulphur
fuels must be fully available by 2005.
Bjerregaard said she welcomed the improvement in ACEA's offer
but said it was too soon to say whether it would satisfy the
Commission and Council.
*Auto-Oil draft legislation heads for conciliation*
MEPs have put pressure on EU transport ministers to take a
stronger stance on reducing pollution from road transport.
Last month's plenary session of the European Parliament voted to
make the second stage of the Auto-Oil legislation mandatory
rather than just a recommendation, as the Council of Ministers
The Auto-Oil proposals, which were considered by MEPs for the
second time, will bring in two sets of stricter standards for the
quality of motor fuels and maximum allowable emissions from new
cars: one in 2000, the other in 2005.
T&E and other NGOs welcomed the EP's vote, which approved
standards almost as strict as those called for by campaign
In their common position, transport ministers had approved the
mandatory standards for 2000 but said those for 2005 should be
"indicative" (in other words: a guideline but not yet mandatory).
MEPs are now saying the 2005 standards should be confirmed now
and not later, which delighted environmental campaign groups.
The NGOs' one reservation was that the EP did not eliminate a
clause allowing for derogations for the introduction of the new
fuel standards. MEPs introduced the derogations at first reading
but were strongly criticised by the environmental movement (see
Bulletin 58, May 1997).
Among those who had lobbied the EP to get rid of the derogations
were representatives of campaigning groups in Spain, Portugal and
Italy, who travelled to Brussels to put pressure on MEPs to
resist the delays that the Spanish, Portuguese and Italian
governments had asked for. "We want the same rights as the rest
of Europe's citizens to clean air," said Gregorio Alvaro of T&E's
Spanish member Aedenat.
The draft legislation now goes back to the Council of Ministers
later this month, but it is highly unlikely agreement will be
reached, which will mean a conciliation procedure starting,
probably in April.
*'New roads may not help growth' - report*
A powerful report from Great Britain has added weight to T&E's
argument that road building is not necessarily good for economic
Last month's provisional Sactra (Standing Advisory Committee on
Trunk Road Assessment) report on transport investment and
economic regeneration found no clear link between new roads and
growth, and concluded that in many cases the effects on the local
economy could be negative.
It was particularly critical of macro-economic analyses which
appear to demonstrate major benefits from new roads. It said it
was "disappointed" by the quality of the economic appraisals used
to justify new schemes, many of which worked on little evidence
beyond an a priori assumption that economic growth will follow
from a scheme.
T&E board member Malcolm Fergusson, who works for the London-
based Institute for European Environmental Policy, said:
"Although based in the UK, Sactra also considered evidence from
overseas, and its findings have important implications for
European investment policy.
"For example, it reported that it was 'unpersuaded' by the the
European Commission's claim last year that the construction of
the trans-European transport networks would create a large number
of new jobs."
Among the report's specific conclusions were that a new road to
a peripheral region may weaken its competitive position relative
to more central areas; that even where new jobs are created they
may simply be displaced from somewhere nearby or another area
also in need of jobs; and that gains in transport efficiency can
cause job losses which outweigh any gains by other sectors.
[bullet] New Publications, page 4. The report is also available
on the British government's website at:
* The Sactra findings ought to be of interest to Europe's
heads of government, who have just been given a Commission report
on growth and jobs in preparation for the Cardiff summit in June.
The report "Growth and employment in the stability-oriented
framework of EMU" says more needs to be done to promote growth
*Hungarian government ends subsidies for air transport*
T&E's Hungarian member Magyar Kozlekedesi Klub (Hungarian Traffic
Club) is celebrating a number of small but significant successes
in the Hungarian parliament.
An environmental fee has been imposed on lubrication oil, which
will both reduce pollution from used oil and contribute nearly
HUF 5 billion (22m ecus) a year to the country's Central
Environmental Protection Fund, an increase of around 25%.
The Hungarian air transport and airport agency will no longer
receive state subsidies that amounted to about HUF 5 billion over
recent years. Taxpayers will thus no longer have to directly
subsidise as much pollution from the air transport industry.
The parliament also passed a new act on excise duties, which will
help cut down on, among other things, illegal fuel transactions
which worsen environmental pollution.
And the government and parliament have agreed on a programme for
renewing suburban trains and buying new rail-buses for branch
lines. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development will
provide a loan of 40 million ecus, the European Investment Bank
is lending 100m ecus, and the EC's PHARE programme will give 30m.
*New rules affecting use of Cohesion Fund money*
Proposals to revise the rules affecting Cohesion Fund payments
have been published by the Commission.
The four EU countries whose GNP is less than 90% of the EU
average - Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain - have between them
been given 16 billion ecus for transport infrastructure and
environmental projects for 1994-99. Now the Commission is making
20.3bn available for 2000-06, but it says some rules have to
In particular the "polluter pays principle" has to be
incorporated into any scheme receiving Cohesion Fund money, and
the Commission can lower the percentage it gives to a scheme if
the scheme can generate revenue (eg. a toll motorway).
Other changes in the draft regulation include a clause preventing
a project benefiting from both the Cohesion Fund and the EU's
four other Structural Funds. And it says there must be a review
before the end of 2003 to ensure all four states are still
entitled to receive Cohesion Fund money (Ireland's GNP could well
disqualify it by then).
T&E has been critical of the Cohesion Fund for failing to
maintain at least a 50:50 balance between transport
infrastructure and environmental projects, and for funding
infrastructure projects which do damage to the environment.
The proposed share-out of the new Cohesion Fund will be: Spain
52-58%, Greece 16-20%, Portugal 16-20%, and Ireland 7-10%.
*Commission funds cycling study*
The European Commission has agreed to give 100 000 ecus to the
preparatory phases of "EuroVelo", a project to link all EU member
states with a network of 12 long-distance cycle routes.
EuroVelo is aimed at raising the profile of cycling throughout
Europe, stressing its health and economic benefits and its low
impact on the environment.
The Commission's grant will cover half the money needed for the
preparatory phase, which includes surveys, feasibility studies,
design and consultation, but not building.
If the project runs to timetable, the first of the 12 routes will
open in 2000, with one a year for the next 11 years.
By Jose Mauel Palma
Member of T&E Board
The southern European countries should be appalled at their own
"evolution". Firstly, in the big metropolitan areas they are
confronted with motorisation rates equivalent to those in the
most problematic city zones in Europe. Secondly, they have been
building roads at an incredible speed and the congestion problems
are worse then ever. Thirdly they have been losing the public
from their public transport systems despite growing public
transport services. Why is this happening?
Among other reasons, it is the order in which the investments
were made that can provide a reasonable explanation.
The growth in the number of cars in the Iberian peninsula over
the last 20 years has been incredible. For instance, in Portugal
the number of cars in 1986 was 1.2 million, and 10 years later
2.75 million. Needless to say, the growth in road use was vastly
superior to GDP over the same period. This rate is both the
cause and the consequence of the pressure for new road
However these new black strips were concentrated in the growing
metropolitan areas, where the population was growing because of
a progressive social desertion of the interior. And the
opportunity to get the growing urban population onto public
transport was lost. In both Spain and Portugal, the urban
population was not used to the introduction of new public
transport measures that would be justified even using the most
normal of econometric models. With a little "help" from our
European friends the governments just offered roads to the new
mass of road-thirsty car owners.
The problem was that this totally supply-based policy undermined
our public transport system in an irreversible way. This
happened, at least in Portugal, in three steps.
First, the train users in large areas of the country were
encouraged onto the growing number of bus services which were
tailored much more to their needs than rail services. The result
was that the country has a rate of rail line closure that
exceeds, by a high margin, the European average. And we used to
have one of the oldest and most widespread railway systems in the
Second, in the urban areas, the ever-growing congestion put
pressure on bus users to use a car (now virtually every soul is
a car owner). Since no policy measures were undertaken to give
an advantage to the public transport user, she/he had more to
lose in the congestion than the private car owner that caused the
congestion in the first place.
Third, when public transport started to offer more services,
nobody was there to use them.
A new report confirms this reasoning by showing that in the
Lisbon metropolitan area public transport has lost 15% of its
users in seven years despite the fact that companies have being
providing more services over the same period. Some reversal of
the investment tendencies is now in place but as everybody knows,
if conquering another private car user is easy the reverse is
much more difficult. The order by which the transport
investments were made will have a long-lasting effect in the
local economy and environment, as well in phenomena such as
global warming and our private lives.
*Introducing Beatrice Schell, T&E's new director*
T&E's new director Beatrice Schell began work earlier this month
in succession to Gijs Kuneman.
Schell, 30, comes to T&E having worked on climate change issues
for the pharmaceutical industry. She worked on campaigns to
increase public awareness that HFCs used in asthma inhalers are
exempt from targets to reduce the causes of global warming. She
attended both the Kyoto conference in December and the
preparatory conferences in Bonn earlier last year.
Born in Romania of a Romanian mother and an ethnic German father,
she left the country aged 15 to finish her schooling in Germany.
She then spent six years in Paris on her university education,
picking up degrees in economics, business management, and eastern
European political studies.
She came to Brussels five years ago, and after a five-month
apprenticeship in the Commission (working in the external
relations directorate DG I on trade with eastern Europe), she
worked for a political consultancy, specialising in trade,
agriculture, health and nutrition issues.
Like Gijs Kuneman (who was also 30 when he joined T&E), she comes
to the job with no formal experience in transport but plenty of
contacts among NGOs in the environmental and social affairs
field. She speaks Romanian, German, French and English, is now
a German national, and spends her leisure time reading
literature, walking, and occasionally doing more aerobic sports
like running, tennis and swimming to keep fit.
T&E will formally welcome Schell and say goodbye to Kuneman at
the T&E General Assembly on 28 March.
*Worrying lack of action plans in biodiversity strategy*
The EU environment commissioner Ritt Bjerregaard has presented
a Community strategy on maintaining biodiversity.
Published by the Commission last month, it aims to integrate
environmental policies into various areas, including transport
and energy, in the hope of reversing the current trends in
biodiversity reduction and preventing other losses before they
In the area of transport policy, the strategy says that all
future action will in effect take place in the context of efforts
to promote the use of renewable energy and tackle climate change.
The communication was given a cautious welcome by BirdLife
International, but it criticised the strategy's failure to oblige
Commission directorates to produce action plans (it said the
transport directorate DG VII really should have to do this if the
strategy is to mean anything).
RAIL PRIVATISATION QUESTIONS ANSWERED
What are the implications of rail privisation? This is a
question often asked of Save Our Railways, the British
organisation fighting for decent standards of train travel
following the privatisation of the country's railways. It has
therefore published a report "Britain's Railways - The Impact of
Privatisation and the Way Forward", which explains the structure
of privatisation, the impacts on services and staff, and what can
still be done. Jonathan Bray of SOS says: "We know many
consultants, British-based companies and rail authorities are
trying to 'sell' the British model as the way forward for other
countries - we hope our briefing sets the record straight about
the failure of British rail privatisation."
A coalition of public authorities, railway companies, cyclists'
campaign groups and environmental organisations has set up the
"European Greenways Association". Its purpose is to promote
"greenways" or slow traffic ways, roads reserved for non-
motorised transport users on routes away from car and lorry
traffic, often on disused railways or river towpaths. Its
secretariat is housed in a building owned by Belgian Railways
(Gare de Namur, Boite 27, 5000 Namur, Belgium. Tel/Fax: +32 81
Anti-Swiss feeling is running high, if the comments of the German
MEP Georg Jarzembowski (EPP) are a guide. In a recent debate in
the EP on the on-going negotiations on land-based transport
between the EU and Switzerland, Jarzembowski talked of the
possibility of "preventing the Swiss leaving their country if
they continue to block 'our' lorries". The resolution adopted
by the EP merely supports the Commission and the presidency in
their efforts to negotiate an agreement.
GB OUT OF STEP?
The Green MEP Nel van Dijk has criticised the British presidency
for being out of step with transport and environment
developments. Van Dijk, who chaired the EP transport committee
1994-96, said Great Britain was more anxious to make its mark
during its six months than deal with outstanding issues. She
said there was no mention of Switzerland, the Eurovignette, a
kerosene tax, duty-free sales and other current issues in the
UK's agenda of priority concerns.
TIME FOR ACCIDENTS
The danger of accidents is much greater in the evening and at
night, according to T&E's Austrian member VC. Using official
statistics, it says the danger of having an accident on the
streets rises by five times after 19.00, and 11 times after
midnight compared with during the day. The danger of being
involved in an accident influenced by alcohol is even greater.
The VC says its conclusions argue in favour of round the clock
public transport involving night buses, "disco buses", and taxis,
as well as reduced blood-alcolhol and speed limits.
MEPs have approved the Sarlis report, which says Europe's rail
transport sector should be gradually liberalised, though with
social measures for railway workers. They also asked the
Commission to put forward proposals on the interoperability of
national networks and possible derogations from new competition
The European Cyclists' Federation is looking for a part-time
administrative assistant to work at its office in Brussels. The
person must be at least 28, computer-literate (including e-mail),
and have English as a mother tongue. Anyone interested should
phone +32 2 771 8768.
*New Publications and Events*
Transport Investment and Economic Regeneration, Standing Advisory
Committee on Trunk Road Assessment, London, free. Fax: +44 171
Britain's Railways - The Impact of Privatisation and The Way
Forward, Save Our Railways, GBP 3.00. Fax: +44 171 582 2424.
Vehicle Technology and Fuels, Dutch ministry of housing, spatial
planning and the environment, Den Haag, 56 pages. Fax: +31 70
NGVs Becoming a Global Reality, sixth Natural Gas Vehicles world
conference, 26-28 May, Cologne. Fax: +49 221 9257 9393.
Air Transport, Infrastructure and the Environment, Aeronautica
Communications, 29-30 October, London. Fax: +44 181 893 3796.
(Note: this is a change of date)
T&E Bulletin is the official news sheet of the European
Federation for Transport and Environment (T&E). It appears 10
times a year and is free to members of the Federation.
T&E has 29 members registered in 1998 in a total of 20 countries.
It lobbies for an environmentally sound approach to European
transport issues. The next issue will appear in mid-April. The
deadline for contributions to reach either the T&E secretariat
or the editor is Friday 3 April.
T&E Secretariat: Bd de Waterloo 34, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium.
Tel: +32 2 502 9909; fax: 502 9908; e-mail: email@example.com.
Editor of Bulletin: Chris Bowers, tel & fax: +44 1883 624917; e-
All articles in the T&E Bulletin are the copyright of T&E.
Member organisations may reproduce them without permission; non-
members must ask permission, which is normally granted subject
to T&E being credited as the source.