Monitoring and Promoting French Interests in the Field of Land Transport
The Foreign and European Affairs Ministry is involved in monitoring and promoting international French interests in the field of road and rail transport. This implies, on the one hand, careful monitoring of transport policies implemented in France and abroad, including in response to new economic, climate, and land use issues. On the other hand, this also involves monitoring the European transport policy, participating in interministerial fora responsible for defining France’s position within the European Union.
1) Transportation policy: priority given to sustainable, energy efficient, and environmentally friendly transport
Currently representing 19% of global CO2 emissions, the transport sector is the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases behind the energy sector. Given this situation, it is important that priority be given to a decisive move towards more sustainable, energy efficient transport compatible with high-level and quantified ambitions with regards to combating climate change.
To meet this new challenge, several means are preferred:
developing road transport alternatives: in France, the Grenelle Environment Forum decided in favor of doubling the network of high-speed rail lines by 2020. 2000 km of new lines will be launched by 2020. Perceived as a genuine “planning and economic development tool,” high and very high speed passenger transportation is also of interest in many countries (Morocco, Brazil, USA, Russia, China).
developing environment-friendly cargo transportation. To do so, cargo transportation by road must be switched to other transportation modes, especially rail, but also short-distance sea shipping and via inland waterways: today, 14% of freight is transported by train. Launching rail highways including using high-speed lines at times when they are not used for the carrying passengers could result in a significant decrease in road and air transport over short and medium distances. Moreover, an efficient combination of transport modes is essential: that’s why France and the European Union want to develop combined road-rail, road-sea, rail-sea, and rail-air modes of transport within the trans-European networks (TEN-T) policy, currently under review, or the Marco Polo program.
the return of “daily life transportation:” long remaining the poor relation in this sector, these transport systems intended primarily for megacities are now at the forefront: recent commissioning in Greater London of a network of high-speed urban trains, automated subways, the return of tramways. There are numerous projects, particularly in Southeast Asia. The economic and environmental stakes are considerable: urban transport in just the Paris region, for example, emits more CO2 than the rest of the country.
developing clean, energy efficientvehicles: electric vehicles, especially for dense urban areas, PHEVs, and developing the use of intelligent transport systems in road transport.
better user awareness: this includes educating and informing professionals and individuals to convince them to adopt new practices. Experiments conducted at the national level are very encouraging, with for example the implementation of a bonus / penalty incentives for purchasing vehicles with low CO2 emissions, the promotion by some communities of using bicycles or information campaigns on the Grenelle Environment Forum. At the European level, we must pursue actions such as mandatory information regarding CO2 emissions from cars and promoting eco-driving which should be generalized.
2) Outline of the European Transport Policy
Governed by Title V (Articles 70 to 80) of the Treaty establishing the European Community, the European transport policy has undergone significant changes:
Initially aimed at removing barriers at borders between Member States and promoting the free movement of persons and property, the common transport policy quickly worked to complete the internal market, ensure sustainable development, deploy large networks in Europe, strengthen security and develop international cooperation.
With the adoption in 2001 of its “European Transport Policy for 2010: Time to Decide” White Paper the Commission wanted to move towards the harmonious and coherent development of different modes of transport, including through co-modality, that is to say the use of each mode of transport (land, sea, and air), in its most effective aspects. The texts adopted at the Community level since then have made significant changes in security and safety, environmental measures, those in favor of consumers/users, and those with obvious structural dimension such as TEN-T.
A mid-term review of the White Paper conducted in 2006 concluded that the plan should focus until 2010 on strengthening the competitiveness of railways, adopting a European ports policy, developing transport systems using advanced technologies, taxing infrastructure use, increasing biofuels production, and seeking solutions to decongest cities.
Online publication: July 13, 2010