Europe is the continent where multiple forms of transportation have been invented or brought to technological maturity. The free movement of persons has made Europe grow together and led to an ever-stronger sense of cohesion. Cross-border mobility is a prerequisite for a united EU and the experience of inter-connectedness on all levels.
Europe is the continent where multiple forms of transportation have been invented or brought to technological maturity. The free movement of persons has made Europe grow together and led to an ever-strong-er sense of cohesion. Cross-border mobility is a prerequisite for a united EU and the experience of inter-connectedness on all levels.
How-ever, transport today accounts for nearly 30 percent of the CO emissions within the European Union. While it is imperative to -reduce these emissions to fight climate change, our joint efforts must aim at creating and maintaining jobs in a sector trans-formed by electrification, other alternative fuels, digitalisation and automation. At the same time, a transition in the field of mobility and transport can only be truly sustainable if it is socially equitable and just.
These challenges can only be tackled in a joint effort on all levels: the EU institutions, Member States, as well as local authorities and communities. It is upon all of us to address these issues to tackle the climate crisis that we are facing. The European Green Deal as the overarching political framework needs to be at the forefront of this battle. It aims to make Europe climate neutral by 2050 and entails significant steps for the transport sector: The Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy will need to deliver on boosting passenger rail, multimodal ticketing, but also highly important infrastructure investment as with the revision of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) regulation. These plans can only be achieved with the necessary funding. As finance is key, the orientation of the EU's multiannual budget for 2021-2027 and recovery instrument "Next Generation EU" will thus be decisive to direct investment into the right transport infrastructures and mobility segments.
The democratisation of modern means of transport after the first half of the 20th century led to enormous benefits for many individuals, enhancing their mobility, social permeability and comfort to a great extent. However, ever increasing levels of fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions became the other side of the coin.
The Covid-19 pandemic has limited the freedom of movement extensively and shows the vulnerability of Europe as a place of constant movement. While air traffic decreased and the the use of bicycles increased, there has also been a strong negative shift from shared transport to individual transport. If this change prevails, a great deal of earlier efforts to reduce GHG-emissions in the transport sector will be nullified.
Recovery packages to overcome the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic must be accompanied by a commitment to transformation: they need to include sustainability criteria that avoid further carbon lock-in with a transport sector still largely powered by fossil fuels. A recovery of the EU's economy will not be a lasting one, if the focus is not going to be on future-oriented investments. For European mobility, that implies investments into a better rail infrastructure, helping public transport companies to survive the crisis, bailing out airlines only under strict climate conditions and, most importantly, creating a transparent polluter-pays principle across all means of transport.
With more and more people being mobile, Europe is a continent that needs to remain innovative in order to achieve the relevant climate goals. We need new technologies to align our mobility infrastructure and behaviour with the pressing challenges of the upcoming years. To save our climate, the European Green Deal has to be Europe's first priority.
It is good news that EU institutions agreed to make 2021 the 'European Year of Rail'. Railways, by nature, are and need to become even more the strong backbone of a sustainable and resilient European transport architecture. This can be achieved by overcoming the predominance of current national frameworks, as well as the limits imposed by them, in favour of one new, cross-border integrated network spanning the continent.
We therefore decided to complement the European Mobility Atlas 2021 with a folding map which provides an overview of sustainable green transport projects across Europe and, most importantly, highlights competitive rail projects such as night trains and high-speed lines. There are lots of best practices we can build on!
Our European Mobility Atlas seeks to contribute to the efforts towards sustainable and just mobility in Europe. Thus, it covers a multitude of transport-related aspects relying on evidence-based research and highlighting concrete, tangible mobility solutions from across our continent.
We would like to thank the chief executive editors, Martin Keim and Philipp Cerny, for their excellent work and efforts in devising and compiling this Atlas. We hope that this publication and endeavour will help its readers to get insights and new perspectives on European mobility.
Berlin and Brussels, February 2021
Dr. Ellen Ueberschär
Eva van de Rakt
Director/Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung European Union