Vice-President Siim Kallas website

European Commission Mobility and Transport website

First interoperable rail link opens between Iberian peninsula and France

A new railway section linking the Spanish and French networks opened thanks to about 70 million euros in European Union funding. The 44.4 km Perpignan-Figueras railway section is suitable for both high-speed rail and freight transport and is expected to significantly cut journey times. The official opening was attended by the Spanish Minister of Development, Jose Blanco López, the French Secretary of State for Transport, M. Thierry Mariani, and the European coordinator Carlo Secchi, on behalf of the European Commission.

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Rail safety: Commission requests Belgium to ensure full independence of authorities

The European Commission has requested Belgium to ensure that the rail safety authority and the accident investigation body are fully independent from any railway undertaking, in accordance with its obligations under EU law. The Railway Safety Directive requires rail safety and accident investigation authorities to be fully independent so that they can function in a totally objective and impartial manner and so best protect the safety of rail passengers and personnel. The Commission's request takes the form of a reasoned opinion under EU infringement procedures. If the Belgian authorities fail to inform the Commission within two months of measures taken to ensure full compliance with the Railway Safety Directive in this respect, the Commission could refer the case to the EU Court of Justice.

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Air transport: Commission requests Poland to establish procedures for allocating air traffic rights

The European Commission has requested Poland to establish transparent and non-discriminatory procedures for allocating air traffic rights between Poland and non-EU countries in accordance with its obligations under EU law. As a result airlines from other EU Member States may be excluded from flying on routes between Poland and non-EU countries. The request takes the form of a reasoned opinion under EU infringement procedures. If the Polish authorities fail to inform the Commission within two months of measures taken to ensure compliance with EU law in this respect, the Commission could refer the case to the EU Court of Justice.

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Air transport: Commission launches infringement procedures against seven Member States over agreements with Russia on Siberian overflights

The European Commission has today launched infringement procedures against Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Sweden and the UK over their bilateral air service agreements with Russia, sending each of these Member States a formal request for information known as a 'letter of formal notice'. The Commission is concerned that the agreements may hinder competition between European airlines and provide the basis for Siberian overflight charges that may be illegal under EU anti-trust rules. Similar letters of formal notice were already sent in October 2010 to Austria, Finland, France and Germany (see IP/10/1425), and the Commission is actively assessing the compliance with EU law of the remaining Member States' bilateral aviation agreements with Russia. The fact that European Union airlines have to pay to fly over Siberia on their way to many Asian destinations cannot only make the flights more expensive, but also lead to unfair competition between EU and non-EU airlines.

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Air transport: Infringements concerning bilateral aviation agreements with Russia

The European Commission has launched infringement procedures against several Member States (see IP/10/1425 and IP/11/74) and is actively assessing the compliance with EU law of the remaining Member States' bilateral aviation agreements with Russia. The Commission is concerned that these agreements may hinder competition, breach EU rules on freedom of establishment, and provide a basis for Siberian overflight charges which may be illegal. This memo provides further background information on bilateral air service agreements and the infringement cases.

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Alternative fuels for transport

Transport has been the sector most resilient to efforts to reduce CO2 emissions due to its strong dependence on fossil energy sources and its steady growth despite the considerable efficiency gains that have already been made. Emissions can be reduced by improving energy efficiency, transport efficiency, and effective transport demand management. But the ultimate solution to decarbonising transport is the substitution of fossil fuels by CO2-lean energy supply to transport.

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Background

Expert group report: Alternative fuels could replace fossil fuels in Europe by 2050

Alternative fuels have the potential to gradually replace fossil energy sources and make transport sustainable by 2050, according to a report presented to the European Commission by the stakeholder expert group on future transport fuels. The EU will need an oil-free and largely CO2-free energy supply for transport by 2050 due to the need to reduce its impact on the environment and concerns about the security of energy supply. The expert group has for the first time developed a comprehensive approach covering the whole transport sector. Expected demand from all transport modes could be met through a combination of electricity (batteries or hydrogen/fuel cells) and biofuels as main options, synthetic fuels (increasingly from renewable resources) as a bridging option, methane (natural gas and biomethane) as complementary fuel, and LPG as supplement.

Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, said: "If we are to achieve a truly sustainable transport, then we will have to consider alternative fuels. For this we need to take into account the needs of all transport modes."

The Commission is currently revising existing policies and today's report will feed into the "initiative on clean transport systems", to be launched later this year. The initiative intends to develop a consistent long-term strategy for fully meeting the energy demands of the transport sector from alternative and sustainable sources by 2050.

According to the report, alternative fuels are the ultimate solution to decarbonise transport, by gradually substituting fossil energy sources. Technical and economic viability, efficient use of primary energy sources and market acceptance, however, will be decisive for a competitive acquisition of market share by the different fuels and vehicle technologies.

There is no single candidate for fuel substitution. Fuel demand and greenhouse gas challenges will most likely require the use of a mix of fuels which can be produced from a large variety of primary energy sources. There is broad agreement that all sustainable fuels will be needed to fully meet the expected demand.

Different modes of transport require different options of alternative fuels. Fuels with higher energy density are more suited to longer-distance operations, such as road freight transport, maritime transport, and aviation. Compatibility of new fuels with current technologies and infrastructure, or the need for disruptive system changes should be taken into account as important factors, determining in particular the economics of the different options.

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