article

A Green Paper for greener cities

Posted: 7 December 2007 | Jacques Barrot, European Commission Vice-President in charge of Transport | No comments yet

Our cities are the engines of the European economy. In the European Union, over 60 per cent of the population lives in urban areas and almost 85 per cent of the EU’s gross national product is generated in urban areas. All European cities are different, but they share similar challenges; congestion, pollution, protection of health, safety and security. Good urban mobility would enhance the quality of life of European citizens.

Our cities are the engines of the European economy. In the European Union, over 60 per cent of the population lives in urban areas and almost 85 per cent of the EU's gross national product is generated in urban areas. All European cities are different, but they share similar challenges; congestion, pollution, protection of health, safety and security. Good urban mobility would enhance the quality of life of European citizens.

Our cities are the engines of the European economy. In the European Union, over 60 per cent of the population lives in urban areas and almost 85 per cent of the EU’s gross national product is generated in urban areas. All European cities are different, but they share similar challenges; congestion, pollution, protection of health, safety and security. Good urban mobility would enhance the quality of life of European citizens.

Throughout Europe, increased traffic in town and city centres has resulted in chronic congestion and the adverse consequences that this entails such as delays and pollution. In fact, urban road traffic is responsible for 40 per cent of CO2 emissions of road transport.

The number of road traffic accidents in towns and cities is also growing each year. One in three fatal incidents now takes place in urban areas and it is the most vulnerable people – namely pedestrians and cyclists – who are the main victims. While it is true to say that these problems occur on a local level, their impact is felt on a global scale. Some examples are climate change, increased health problems and bottlenecks in the logistics chain.

Faced with this difficult task, local authorities, cities and towns in Europe should not be left alone. My purpose is not to impose solutions from the centre that will be ill-suited to local circumstances. The European Commission’s role is to identify, in partnership with all parties, what obstacles to successful urban mobility exist and how to remove them.

My vision for urban mobility is based on five key objectives:

  • Mobility in our cities should be fluid
  • Transport should be less polluting
  • Mobility should be smart
  • It is essential that our cities should be accessible for all
  • Transport should be safer and more secure

If these are the five areas of concern, how can we advance? Experience shows that there is no single answer to mobility problems. The Green Paper addresses how the quality of collective transport can be improved, how the use of clean and energy efficient technologies can be increased, how walking and cycling can be promoted, and how the rights of collective transport passengers can be protected. It also looks at the idea of a labelling scheme for pioneering and well-performing cities, the development of guidance for Green Zones with restrictive measures, and the promotion of the use of urban road user charging.

The Green Paper is designed to open a broad consultation and debate with governments, industry and citizens about the future of urban transport. In Autumn 2008, having listened to this debate, I plan to present an action plan proposing concrete measures that present a clear vision on responsibilities and tasks, and a timetable for action; a real European policy for urban mobility.

Together we must find the means to improve urban mobility. We need to make sustainable mobility available to all European citizens, allowing economic factors to play a full role in our cities. It is time to put urban mobility on the European agenda and open a new chapter in European transport policy. Let’s work together towards greener cities!

Related organisations

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend