Green groups attack Brussels transport plan
A new EU transport policy plan adopted by the European Commission has been described by environmentalists as unsustainable and illegitimate.
The new orientation for the future EU transport policy was adopted by the commission on Thursday (22 June), five years after its white paper on transport.
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One element of the plan is to create better links between road, sea, rail and river modes of transport.
Commissioner for Transport Jacques Barrot said that the new policy is essential for Europe's prosperity and for the free movement of citizens.
"Mobility is a key issue in the enlarged EU and also an increasingly important factor in the competitiveness of companies," Mr Barrot said.
"I would like to improve mobility within Europe and to move towards green propulsion and intelligent transport systems that use the very latest technologies," he added.
But environmental groups have criticised the commissions' new strategy, accusing Mr Barrot of bowing to the road transport lobby and abandoning earlier pledges to shift the emphasis away from road transport towards greener systems such as rail or maritime transport.
"The green rhetoric of commissioner Barrot cannot mask the fact that the commission has pandered to the road transport lobby in its review of the transport white paper and abandoned its commitment to a sustainable transport policy," said Austrian Green MEP Eva Lichtenberger.
"We condemn the commission's decision to scrap the so-called 'modal shift' (the shift of long-distance transport from the road on the rail) as a transport policy priority."
"The Greens will try and use the debate in the European Parliament to prevent this disastrous u-turn in transport policy from taking place," concluded Ms Lichtenberger.
The European sustainable transport citizens organisation T&E said Brussels' new strategy contradicts the sustainable development strategy adopted by EU leaders last week.
"It is bizarre and wrong that the commission has put out a revised transport strategy that ignores objectives set by EU leaders only six days ago," said Jos Dings, director of T&E.
"Apparently the commission finds the wishes of Europe's transport industry more important than those of our political leaders who rightly take a broader perspective."
"The reviewed transport strategy is not just unsustainable, despite its title, it is also illegitimate," added Mr Dings.