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Transport - Energy

1. Background

In January 2007, the European Commission unveiled an unprecedented set of energy initiatives, which it encouraged the EU 27 to adopt. The Commission put forth the goal of cutting 30% of greenhouse-gas emissions in developed countries worldwide by 2020, with a minimum 20% reduction within the EU by that same date. Calling for a “post-industrial revolution”, Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said: “Energy policy was a core area at the start of the European project. We must now return it to centre stage. The challenges of climate change, increasing import dependence and higher energy prices are faced by all EU members.”

The 2007 Spring Summit of EU heads of state and governments, in Brussels, agreed to some legally binding objectives, including the 20% minimum reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions and getting 20% of energy from renewable sources. With the EU already struggling to meet it objectives under the Kyoto protocol, those areas related with an environmental impact, including transport and energy, will have great challenges ahead.

Transport and energy share, along with communications, the characteristic of being largely networked industries. The global economy and the advent of a united Europe both necessitate greater network integration. Previously, transport and energy networks were organised according to national policies, which left many links between countries either missing or not of sufficient capacity to meet European network requirements. To remedy this, the Maastricht Treaty included provisions for building “Trans-European Networks” (TENs), for energy, transport and telecommunications. TEN's are financed by the European Community and by the European Investment Bank and also from Structural Funds and Cohesion Funds, allocated for the development of poorer European regions and for the integration of European infrastructure respectively.

Although there has long been Europe-wide legislation and funding for both transit and energy, creation of a comprehensive “European Energy Policy” was only approved in October 2005 during the EU Council in London. In March 2006 the Commission launched a Green Paper entitled A European Strategy for Sustainable, Competitive and Secure Energy. This was followed by a set of proposals from the European Commission entitled Energy for a Changing World, which coincided with Barroso’s speech on January 2007, and which must be approved by both the European Council and the European Parliament to become law. The Spring Summit was an important step to the realization of this.

While the targets are specifically aimed at the energy sector, they are also integral to urban development and the transportation of goods and people, including supplies of imported fossil fuels. Early 2007, the Commission launched a Green Paper on Urban Transport, which will examine all modes of urban transport in order to determine how the EU can assist in developing urban transport in conjunction with overall European transport policy.

Security and safety

The 11 September 2001 attacks, and those in Madrid and London, have shown how vulnerable transport services are to terrorists and have thus reinforced the need to secure transport infrastructure against possible attacks. Energy infrastructure, too, presents a high profile target, with potentially devastating effects. Since 2001, the EU has rapidly developed security throughout Europe. Common standards for airport security have been agreed to and the Commission itself now carries out inspections across Europe, supplementing the testing of airport security provisions by national inspectors. In ports, vessel inspections that were developed to ensure unsafe ships were not endangering European waters now also target potentially dangerous cargoes. The Commission is currently working to encourage EU-wide coordination of security for energy and transport networks.

The EU has established three agencies for aviation, maritime and railway safety, and has agreed to common safety standards in a wide range of areas. These agencies are responsible for implementing safety rules across Europe and for assisting the Commission in developing more efficient and effective safety standards.

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