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Transport Choice Or Industry Protection? - Europe

Media release from the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) 

November 13, 2012 - Brussels, Belgium

The car industry has bypassed transport policy to maintain its subsidies by acting as a business, not a transport choice. 

Despite rhetoric, the European Commission is allowing the car industry to be favoured over more sustainable modes of transport.  The European Commission has repeatedly called for more active forms of transport. The EU White Paper on Transport demands a “transition from a primarily car based personal mobility in cities to a mobility based on walking and cycling” and no more conventionally-fuelled cars in cities by 2050.
 
The automotive industry however is still receiving the lion’s share of European (EU) funding. In a “Cars 2020” strategy, unveiled last week by the European Commission, the industry will have access to a share of €80 billion in funding and a further €2.5 billion Competitiveness of Enterprises and SMEs programme.
 
“Different modes of transport need adequate funding but what happened to strategic thinking and transport equality?” demands Bernhard Ensink, Secretary General of the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF).
 
In addition to industry subsidies in the form of research, road infrastructure receives 47% of the EU’s transport infrastructure funds, which can be used to leverage national investment. Only 0.7% of EU funding has been allocated to cycling infrastructure between 2007 and 2013.
 
“7% of Europeans choose the bicycle as their main mode of transport so where is their share of the budget?” Ensink adds.
 
ECF has been repeatedly pushing for the EU to invest more in cycling, demanding 10% of transport subsidies be earmarked for cycling so that 15% of all trips are done by bicycle by 2020. Yet top officials continue to be influenced by more powerful lobby groups. ECF met last week with Siim Kallas, the EU Commissioner for Transport, calling for the EU to give priority to cycling in its transport policies and funding.
 
Even with substantial EU Subsidies, the car industry so far has been unable to increase the sales of more ‘sustainable’ electric vehicles. In 2011, only 11,500 were sold in Western Europe, despite billions spent on subsidies and infrastructure. The equivalent figure for electric bicycles was more than 700,000.
 
Ensink says: “The EU budget plans for 2014-2020 are currently being drafted. We’re here to help the Commission achieve its official goals stated in the White Paper, but this needs investment. We have to act not just as a lobby group but as an industry that can make a €600 billion annual contribution the European economy.”

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Dated - 13.11.2012

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