EU cities need to do more to develop sustainable mobility, claim Auditors

Posted: 5 March 2020 |

A report from the European Court of Auditors claims that there has been no significant reduction in private car usage in the EU, air pollution in many cities still exceeds safety levels, and cities need to do more to move to environmentally-friendly transport.

EU cities need to do more to move to sustainable mobility, claim Auditors

Six years after the European Commission called for a step-change, there is no clear indication that EU cities are fundamentally changing their approaches to moving people around cities and shifting urban traffic to more sustainable and environmentally friendly modes of transport, according to a new report from the European Court of Auditors (ECA).

“Substantial improvements in making mobility in our cities more sustainable may need more time, but are not possible without member states’ commitment. All stakeholders at EU, national, regional and city level should work together to achieve this goal,” said Iliana Ivanova, the ECA Member responsible for the report. “The brand new European Green Deal highlights how important it is to make the overdue step-change in our cities.”

The auditors examined whether EU support had helped make mobility in urban areas more sustainable and whether cities had made progress since the European Commission’s 2013 Urban Mobility Package. They examined public transport, pollution and congestion in eight metropolitan centres in four member states: Hamburg and Leipzig in Germany, Naples and Palermo in Italy, Łódź and Warsaw in Poland, and Barcelona and Madrid in Spain.

An efficient public transport network, integrating surrounding areas and involving different transport options is crucial for encouraging citizens to shift from private cars to cleaner means of travel such as walking, cycling, and public transport, the auditors said.

Since 2013, the Commission has issued guidance on tackling urban mobility challenges and increased EU funding for projects, but the auditors argued that EU-funded projects were not always based on sound urban mobility strategies and were not as effective as intended.

The auditors also claimed that projects were often delayed and projected passenger numbers were not reached. Since 2019, the Commission has started to make specific recommendations to member states on urban mobility as part of the European Semester process. The auditors underlined that these recommendations need to be followed up in respect of the way that EU and national funding is used.

They also called on the Commission to require member states to provide better data on urban mobility in their main cities and to report regularly on progress. Furthermore, cities without a robust sustainable urban mobility plan should no longer receive EU funding, the report suggested.