Cohesion Policy for de-carbonised and environmentally sound transport

Friends of the Earth Europe believes Cohesion Policy funding should contribute to the phase-out of carbon intensive and environmentally destructive transport. This can happen if the funds are used to support environmentally sound transport modes only. Cohesion Policy investments into carbon intensive transport measures should be phased out completely and only measures that contribute to the de-carbonisation of the transport sector should be promoted.

Railways and public transport have suffered from chronic under-investment in the central and eastern European countries over the past 15 years. Because of this they are less competitive than car and truck transport.

To date central and eastern European country governments have used the vast majority of the EU funds available for transport to develop roads. But trains and urban public transport produce on average three times less CO2 emissions per passenger-kilometre than private cars. In freight, trains cause more than five times less emissions per tonne-kilometre than trucks.

EU funds, if invested properly, can support the decrease of greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector. They can also help reduce other negative environmental impacts, such as biodiversity loss, and noise levels.
EU funds in the post-2013 period should be shifted to carbon-neutral development only in the transport sector. The same is true for the resources of the European Investment Bank as a complementary financing mechanism of the EU.

The basic criteria for deciding a specific project or measure's eligibility for EU funding must include:

  • compliance with Europe's long-term climate target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • no harm to Natura 2000 sites, and no contribution to biodiversity loss in general
  • respect to human settlements, including eliminating noise and preventing other negative impacts on communities
  • the potential to influence transport demand in a particular area in a way that will stimulate the shift to significantly more environmentally-friendly transport modes
  • the EU funds not being used to support agrofuel projects for transport or energy.

Among the types of measures that should be promoted and supported by the Structural and Cohesion Funds are:

  • traffic calming measures, particularly in densely populated urban areas
  • railways and public transport schemes, as they consume less energy and emit less CO2 per passenger-kilometre than private cars
  • bus and tram schemes, as they use 20 times less scarce urban space per passenger than private cars
  • public logistic centres to enable the switch from long distance rail transport to localised road delivery
  • the introduction of charging and other systems, for example low emission zones and speed limits, both in urban and non-urban areas. These should be designed and developed in a way that will in the longer-term spur the shift to more environmentally friendly transport modes
  • attention should also be paid to intelligent transportation systems as well as research and development. This should focus on the development and diffusion of distance-based charging systems. It is crucial that the bypassing of the charged road network is avoided as much as possible.