Informal meeting of Transport Ministers | The Belgian presidency outlines the future of European mobility in a Brussels Declaration !

The transport sector alone is responsible for a quarter of the EU's greenhouse gas emissions. Europe's objective, confirmed in the Climate Law and the Paris Agreements, is to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. That's why it's vital to redirect our mobility towards the most sustainable modes of transport. This objective was at the heart of this informal meeting of European Transport Ministers organised by the Federal Minister of Mobility, who brought together his 26 European colleagues as part of the Belgian presidency of the Council of the European Union. At the end of the meeting devoted to active mobility, rail connections and the resilience of our transport infrastructures, the Belgian presidency presented a Brussels Declaration, setting out clear and ambitious guidelines for the next European legislature. 

The Federal Minister of Mobility: "A 90% reduction in transport emissions is needed by 2050. However, transport is the only sector of the economy whose emissions have continued to rise over the last 30 years, despite all the efforts made in recent decades to improve vehicle and fuel performance, right up to today's electrification. While technology can and must play a role in decarbonising mobility, it will not be enough on its own to enable us to achieve our climate objectives. The EU must encourage and support the greenest modes of travel, as they are the essential pillars for reducing transport's carbon footprint. For short journeys, we need to develop active mobility – cycling in particular – and for longer journeys or goods transport, we need to make the railway the backbone of mobility in Europe." 

The informal meeting of Transport Ministers on 3 and 4 April, bringing together all European transport ministers, which was preceded by a high-level meeting on rail on 2 April, resulted in the Brussels Declaration on the mobility of tomorrow.  

This Declaration calls on the European Union to take the following steps during the next legislature:  

Make rail transport the backbone of European mobility  

  1. Make the modal shift towards rail transport a central objective of European mobility policy. Set binding targets for the modal share of rail along trans-European transport corridors, and report on the achievement of these targets. 
  2. Propose an EU-wide master plan to increase the supply of rail services for freight and passengers. The Commission must ensure that future EU policies all contribute to increasing supply and to the modal shift towards rail transport.  
  3. To ensure, through a new legislative proposal, that a passenger can easily compare, book and pay for their door-to-door train journey in a trans-European perspective, while being assured of the continuity of their journey, regardless of whether one or several rail companies are involved. 
  4. Develop a dedicated strategy for night train passenger services, including reduced fares, to offer a viable alternative to short- and medium-haul flights in Europe. 
  5. Make the development of rail freight a priority for the EU's internal market, with a trajectory of increasing transport volumes by 2030 and 2050, to double the volume of goods transported by rail. 
  6. Prepare the necessary regulatory changes, and make every effort to adopt them, in order to improve the competitiveness of rail transport and ensure a level playing field with other modes of transport, particularly with regard to energy and fuel taxation and rules on State aid. 
  7. Apply the 'polluter-pays' principle to mobility to ensure fair competition: the price of each mode of transport must reflect the external costs incurred, such as pollution, CO2 emissions or congestion. 
  8. Analyse the needs of intermodal terminals throughout the European Union and help Member States ensure these are adequately met. 
  9. Increase the amount of European funding on offer for rail transport, using all available financing instruments.  
  10. Protect the EU's rail industry ecosystem from unfair competition from third-country manufacturers, whether tax-related, social or environmental. 

Unlock the full potential of active mobility and cycling at European and national level 

  1. Every citizen is a pedestrian. Cycling and pedestrian mobility must be treated as modes of transport in their own right by the EU. 
  2. The signing of the European Declaration on Cycling by the Commission, the Council and the European Parliament is a decisive step in this direction, making cycling a policy in its own right at European level.  
  3. We want to make sure that this declaration is translated into a real political strategy at EU level, supporting the policies developed at national level by the Member States. 
  4. The EU and its Member States need to significantly increase their cycling infrastructure to enable citizens to get around safely and efficiently to their places of work and study or for leisure purposes. 
  5. Funding for cycling infrastructure should be covered by existing EU funding programmes. 
  6. The EU needs to develop and protect its industrial sector for the production, maintenance and repair of bicycles from unfair competition from third-country manufacturers. For instance, a 'Made in Europe' label should swiftly be developed. 
  7. In order to improve sustainability, quality of life and road safety in urban areas, the EU will contribute to developing cycle logistics that can ensure the last mile and, as a result, help to create jobs that cannot be relocated. 
  8. To support cycling policy in Europe, a specific unit within the Commission should be dedicated to this area.  
  9. Member States should encourage the sharing of knowledge, best practices and data, and forward their national active mobility strategies and plans to the Commission. Data in this area must be collected annually in the same way across the EU. 
  10. Citizens need to play an active role in the shift towards active mobility. To raise awareness and get them involved, let's dedicate the next legislature to a European Year of Cycling! 

With this Declaration, the Belgian presidency of the Council of the EU highlights the need for decisive action during the next EU legislature and invites the Commission to present concrete measures, including legislative proposals, to implement the recommendations made in this Declaration.