Covered in this week’s Green Mobility Policy Brief: European Commission Proposes Extension of Electric Vehicle and Battery Rules; European Commission Proposes Sweeping Reforms for Enhanced Passenger Rights and Multimodal Traveler Experiences; UK Announces £70 Million Boost for Rapid EV Charging at COP28; and Swedish Rail Incumbent SJ Seeks Taxpayer-Funded Direct Award, Sparks Controversy.
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European Commission Proposes Extension of Post-Brexit EU-UK Electric Vehicle and Battery Rules,
The European Commission has proposed a one-off extension until December 31, 2026, of the current rules of origin for electric vehicles and batteries under the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement. The move is in response to unexpected challenges, including geopolitical tensions and disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic, slowing the growth of the European battery ecosystem. The proposed extension specifically targets electric vehicles and batteries without affecting the broader rules of origin set for 2027. A legally binding clause prevents further extension by the EU-UK Partnership Council, securing the rules of origin beyond 2026. In tandem with the proposed extension, the European Commission is committing additional funding of up to €3 billion to bolster the EU’s battery manufacturing industry. This financial injection is expected to accelerate the development of sustainable battery technologies and enhance the competitiveness of European battery manufacturers in the global market. The Commission’s proposal includes a three-fold approach: a one-off extension, a legally binding clause preventing further extension, and financial incentives to boost the EU’s battery industry. The decision will now be discussed in the Council, shaping the EU’s position in the Partnership Council, the highest decision-making body of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. This reflects the EU’s commitment to adapting trade agreements and fostering strategic industries in response to evolving global dynamics. Speaking about the matter, Maroš Šefčovič, Executive Vice-President for European Green Deal, said “We want our European industry to be leaders in the green transition. By providing legal certainty on the applicable rules and unprecedented financial support to European producers of sustainable batteries, we will bolster the competitive edge of our industry, with a strong value chain for batteries and electric vehicles. This is a balanced solution that protects the EU’s interests.” The proposal will now undergo discussions in the Council, and the decision will shape the EU’s position in the Partnership Council, the highest decision-making body of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement.
European Commission Proposes Sweeping Reforms for Enhanced Passenger Rights and Multimodal Traveler Experiences.
The European Commission has unveiled a comprehensive set of proposals aimed at bolstering passenger rights and improving the overall experience for travellers. The proposed reforms focus on three key aspects: the enhancement of passenger rights. While EU passenger rights for air, rail, ship, and bus travel are already well-established, there are identified gaps and challenges in implementation and enforcement. The proposed revision addresses these issues by reinforcing enforcement mechanisms and introducing new rules for air passengers who book through intermediaries. Notably, the proposal addresses reimbursement rules when flights or multimodal journeys involve intermediaries, providing passengers with greater protection against cancellations. The reforms also protect passengers on multimodal journeys, covering buses, trains, and planes in a single trip, focusing on ensuring smoother travel experiences. The second aspect of the proposals centres on the protection of package travellers. The revision of the 2015 Package Travel Directive aims to provide more effective protection, particularly during crises like the COVID-19 pandemic. New rules include faster refunds within 14 days, limitations on down-payments to 25%, and clear information for travellers offered vouchers. The third aspect of the proposals focuses on advancing multimodal travel information services and creating a common European mobility data space. Multimodality, combining various transport modes, is seen to reduce overall transport emissions. Revisions to the Delegated Regulation on EU-wide multimodal travel information services will make real-time information more accessible to passengers, including updates on delays, cancellations, and information on bike transport and accessibility.
A Dead Weight: Will a New EU Law Embrace Diesel Trucks over Zero-Emission Ones? – By Bernardo Galantini, Freight Officer at Transport & Environment.
UK Announces £70 Million Boost for Rapid EV Charging at COP28.
UK Transport Secretary Mark Harper has revealed a £70 million pilot scheme during COP28 Transport Day in Dubai, aimed at enhancing the infrastructure for ultra-rapid electric vehicle (EV) chargepoints. The initiative, part of the Rapid Charging Fund (RCF), will focus on upgrading motorway service areas to ensure a robust and future-proofed electrical network. Harper outlined plans for up to 10 trial sites in England with bolstered electrical network capacity, ensuring that the power supply can meet the growing demand for EVs until at least 2035. The pilot scheme, managed by National Highways, addresses the strategic importance of motorway service areas as crucial stopping points, ensuring a visible and reliable longer-distance charging network. Transport Secretary Mark Harper emphasized the government’s dedication to supporting drivers, stating that robust chargepoint infrastructure is integral to the “Plan for Drivers.” The £70 million pilot scheme marks the beginning of a rapid and strategic investment in the future of transportation in the UK. In addition to the EV charging initiative, the UK and the US have announced a joint competition to develop green shipping corridors between the two countries. This initiative builds upon the UK’s successful partnerships with other nations, emphasizing the global commitment to zero-emission shipping routes.
Swedish Rail Incumbent SJ Seeks Taxpayer-Funded Direct Award, Sparks Controversy.
Sweden, often hailed as a pioneer in the liberalisation of the passenger rail market in Europe, now faces controversy as its state-owned rail incumbent, SJ, attempts to secure a last-minute direct award just before the EU-mandated deadline for mandatory tendering. Over the past two years, SJ has actively lobbied authorities and the tourism industry in Jämtland, Sweden, and Trøndelag, Norway, promoting the service as an “investment”. However, some critics suggest that the route could increase financial burdens on taxpayers and the potential for a monopoly. ALLRAIL, a pan-European association representing independent passenger rail operators, has, for one, strongly opposed SJ’s approach. Instead, ALLRAIL recommends continuing the competitive tendering of regional traffic in Sweden to reduce the taxpayer burden, enhance efficiency, and promote a modal shift to rail. Speaking on the matter, ALLRAIL’s President Dr Erich Forster said: “Rather than ignoring key provisions of the Single European Rail Area, ALLRAIL urges the Swedish Government, the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket), and the Norwegian Railway Directorate (Jernbanedirektoriatet) to step back from unjustified taxpayer funded rail services.”
Picture by Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street. CC BY 2.0 Deed