Issue 01/11

March 2011
  1. White Paper: EU Transport Policy discriminates against road transport
  2. MEP Koch calls for EU Road Safety coordinator
  3. EP Report on the Commission's Action Plan for GNSS
  4. ERF launches the Work Zone Safety WG
  5. Forthcoming events of interest
  6. The ERF

The Voice of the European Road
is a free quarterly electronic newsletter aimed at enhancing knowledge of European road
transport issues.

White Paper: EU Transport Policy discriminates against road transport


The European Union Road Federation would like to express its overall disappointment with the European Commission’s White Paper. According to Christophe Nicodème, ERF Director General: ‘We were told that modal shift was no longer the European Commission’s policy and the road transport would be treated on an equal footing. This has clearly not happened’.


While preaching co-modality, the European Commission’s White Paper seeks to substantially promote rail and other modes against road. According to its stated objectives, by 2050, it would like to see a 50% shift in freight transport from road to rail for distances over 300km and the majority of medium-distance passenger transport travelling rail. Moreover, and clearly without considering the severe economic impact that this would have on public finances , the Commission would like to triple high speed rail lines by 2050, while maintaining an overall a dense rail network.

Modern infrastructure, smart pricing and funding

The ERF welcomes the Commission’s acknowledgment that infrastructure shapes mobility. It also supports the need for sustainable financing methods and, in this respect, agrees with the idea of putting in place road pricing mechanisms, based on the user pays and polluters pay principle. However, it insists that such a pricing mechanism should be revenue neutral. Moreover, the revenue collected must be channeled back into the road sector (earmarking) in the form of additional investments aimed at maintaining the road infrastructure, in order to preserve this fundamental asset for the society. The ERF also underlines the importance of research funds aimed at developing cleaner infrastructure technologies, in order to fulfill the sustainability objectives stressed by the EC.

Fair and equal competition?

Moreover, the ERF again would like to press for an equal treatment with respect to transport pricing for all modes. The White Paper states that ‘the costs of transport should be reflected in its price in an undistorted way’. ‘This principle, however, does not seem to apply to the generous public subsidies currently enjoyed by the rail sector, which is the biggest impediment to establishing a level playing field between modes’ in the words of Christophe Nicodème.

The role of Intelligent Transport System

The ERF supports the White Paper’s acknowledgment of the importance of deploying ITS as a means of ensuring a safer and more secure road transport system and wishes to underline the need for EU-wide interoperable systems for, amongst others, the following applications: road pricing, dangerous goods management, intelligent traffic management, secure parking and road safety.

Road Safety

The ERF welcomes the White Paper’s focus on vulnerable road users and an ageing population in line with the guidelines established by the 4th European Road Safety Action Programme, highlighting the role of infrastructure as one the main pillars to improve the safety record of road transport.

Related links:
European Commission’s White Paper

MEP Koch calls for EU Road Safety coordinator


European People's Party MEP Koch, who is drafting a resolution on road safety for the European Parliament's transport committee, argued in an interview with EurActiv that in order to achieve a European Commission target of halving the death toll on European roads by 2020, the appointment of a European Road Safety coordinator is necessary.

According to the Commission, road infrastructure and design are a contributing factor in one out of three fatal accidents. Koch questioned the ethics of setting ambitious targets in the EU Road Safety Action Programmes, calling instead for the establishment of a long-term target of zero road deaths — an initiative which he said could be called "vision zero".

However, no matter what the target, in order to achieve it better coordination between all the various initiatives is required. Koch argued that more coordination is necessary between the different levels of governance at local, national and European level, but also between various policy sectors that affect road safety, such as financing, environment and the internal market.

The MEP would like to establish the post of coordinator by 2014 and sees the official at the level of Director-General, reporting to Commission President José Manuel Barroso. He envisages the creation of a whole new Directorate-General to deal with mobility and offer an overarching approach to the issue. According to Koch, the Director-General for road safety would also liaise with non-EU countries on the issue and have the right to initiate legislation to enhance safety on European roads.

The proposal is part of Koch's draft resolution, which is yet to be adopted by the transport committee.

Related links:
Koch's draft resolution

EP Report on the Commission's Action Plan for GNSS


Galileo and the development of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) are not only vital for Europe's commercial and technological competitiveness but, through their transport applications, have potential significantly to speed and make safer the transport of goods and people within the EU. Transport accounts for 44% of GNSS applications by value and 20% by volume. It was for these reasons that the TRAN Committee decided to do an own-initiative report on the Commission's action plan for GNSS.

The Committee considered Mrs ?ic?u's report and voted on 48 amendments and two compromise amendments and adopted these with the exception of the seven amendments covered by compromises. The amendments dealt with the application of GNSS functions to the various transport modes, adequate research and implementation financing, and the geographical coverage of the system. On this latter point the Committee insisted that all of the European Union w a s covered a s a priority, and coverage be extended to the Middle East and Africa.

The Committee also adopted all except one of the amendments proposed by the ITRE Committee which supported the general approach TRAN had taken.

The report was adopted by 34:4:1.

Timetable foreseen:
Adoption in plenary: May 2011.

Related links:
EP TRAN Committee
European GNSS Agency (GSA)

ERF launches the Work Zone Safety Working Group

road_safety_enThe ERF initiated a new Working Group on Work Zone Safety. This WG, which is part of the ERF Road Safety Programme, was launched with a two-fold objective: first, to raise political and stakeholder awareness around this particular area; and second, to assess its specific needs and requirements to ensure safety conditions on European roads.

Road works are essential to ensure that road surfacing and roadside equipment comply with the correct standard and that required improvements or repairs are carried out.

The majority of Europe’s motorway network is now over thirty years old, while traffic density has never been so high, and improvement works are therefore an increasing, and much-needed, occurrence.

Road maintenance activities are generally carried out to improve road safety conditions but, in the process, modifies the usual driving environment and could cause critical safety conditions .

Related links:

ERF Road Safety Programme

Forthcoming Events of Interest


  • 5th National Congress on Road Safety, 4 - 5 May 2011, Logroño (Spain)
    Organised by AEC

  • International Transport Forum, 25 - 27 May 2011, Leipzig (Germany)
    Organised by OECD/ITF


ERF Annual Report 2010

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2011, European Union Road Federation. Reproduction is authorised, provided the source is acknowledged, except where otherwise stated.