Brussels As part of the European Green Deal package, the European Commission launched a new mobility strategy today. Despite a Commission claim that the mobility strategy would tackle all related sources of emissions and high expectations that followed, the strategy fails to propose any game changers. 

Greenpeace EU climate campaigner Lorelei Limousin said: “Supporting a few green measures can never balance out letting some of Europe’s biggest emitters off the hook. While the European Commission pledges to boost rail and sustainable mobility, it failed once again to cut off the flow of taxpayer money to dirty industries.” 

The Commission’s proposal does not suggest setting a reduction target for air travel, nor the number of privately owned cars. While it does suggest that “collective travel” (e.g. via air, rail and bus) under 500 km in the EU be carbon neutral by 2030, it nevertheless falls short of binding measures, such as a ban on short-haul flights where there is a greener alternative like rail. It also fails to set an end date for the sale of new cars with internal combustion engines. 

While car and airline workers are being laid off by the tens of thousands and their employers are receiving tens of billions in publicly funded bailouts, the Commission merely plans to  issue recommendations to increase automation and digitalisation and workforce mitigation measures.

Also among the proposals in the new mobility strategy, the European Commission suggests doubling high speed rail use in the next decade and promises to propose an action plan in 2021 with the aim of increasing long-distance and crossborder passenger rail services. It will also review the kerosene tax exemption.

Four tests for the EU mobility strategy  

In the lead up to the Commission’s mobility proposal, Greenpeace proposed four tests to help measure whether the European Commission’s mobility strategy delivers real climate action and makes transport accessible for all, or whether it entrenches the current fossil-fuel- and private-profit-driven transport system. Here’s how the proposal stacks up: 

Legend: Is it in the strategy?

🙂 Yup. This is progress in the right direction. 
😐 Kind of, but not completely; or, not enough detail given to evaluate properly. 
☹️ Nope. This was either missing altogether or steps backward were made.

Does the strategy end public funding for fossil-dominant transport and infrastructure?Greenpeace assessment 
Exclude polluters like the aviation industry and car-makers, as well as new highway projects and conventional and hybrid car purchase incentives, from receiving any public money (EU budget, recovery packages, subsidies, state aid, etc.)
Make COVID-related bailouts of airlines, airports and car-makers conditional on the respect of regulatory measures to align the EU with the Paris climate agreement goal to limit global warming to 1.5°C, and on worker protection, such as job security and reskilling
Scrap subsidies for polluting transport modes, such as VAT and fuel tax exemptions
Does it shift public transport investment to sustainable, affordable and accessible mobility solutions such as trains, other public transport and cycling?Greenpeace assessment
Protect public services and increase funding to ensure public transport serves the needs of all communities and cycling infrastructure provides safe paths in all neighbourhoods
Ensure all communities are served by accessible and affordable connections to essential services and employment opportunities, as well as connections between rural and urban environments
Invest massively and in a concerted way in a Europe-wide network of affordable and accessible new day and night trains, including a new fund for rolling stock
Remove network bottlenecks and harmonise railway systems, tickets and timetables, while protecting passengers’ rights across borders
Set binding targets for national governments to increase the share of walking, cycling, public transport and trains and the share of freight transported by rail and ship, and make access to EU funds conditional on meeting the targets
Does it hold polluters responsible and reduce emissions?Greenpeace
Introduce a phase-out of short haul flights, starting with a ban on trips where there is a train or bus taking under 8 hours and/or a night train and ensure these slots are not allocated to “new” flights
End the sales of new cars and vans with internal combustion engines by 2028 at the very latest
Does it start a just transition for the workers? Greenpeace
Channel bailout money to workers to secure their income and protect their wages, health, livelihoods
Establish a substantial just transition fund to support the reskilling of workers and to organise the scaling down of fossil-fuel-heavy transport sectors alongside trade unions, in a just manner
Condition all bailout and other public support on a three-year ban on cash flows to shareholders, such as dividends and own-share buybacks, as well as increases in CEO salaries and bonuses


Lorelei Limousin, Greenpeace EU climate campaigner: +32 (0)477 79 04 15 [email protected]

Greenpeace EU press desk: +32 (0)2 274 1911, [email protected]

For breaking news and comment on EU affairs:

Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace. Greenpeace does not accept donations from governments, the EU, businesses or political parties.