The European Fit For 55 Package
On July 14, 2021, the European Commission submitted a comprehensive legislative package (2021 Integrated Reportierter Bericht) as part of its Green Deal.
On June 22, 2022, the plenary session of the European Parliament voted on key parts of the Fit for 55 package, concluding that the expansion of emissions trading to include transport and buildings will initially only apply to commercial users. Private households are to be exempt until at least 2029. In addition, the plenary session approved stricter CO₂ emissions requirements for newly registered passenger cars and light commercial vehicles (ban on the sale of combustion engines from 2035 onwards). The expansion of emissions trading to include international flights was also approved by the plenary session.
On June 29, 2022, the Council finalized its position on the relevant parts of the Fit for 55 package. The second part of emissions trading for transport and buildings is also to apply to private households (contrary to the position of the European Parliament). A target for reducing CO₂ emissions by 100% by 2035 is to be introduced for new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles. Emissions trading is only to apply to intra-European flights (including the United Kingdom and Switzerland). As a next step, negotiations with the European Parliament can begin in order to reach an agreement on the final regulations. The whole Fit for 55 package is not expected to be finalized before 2023.
Revision of the Directive Regarding Cerification of Traction Unit Drivers
The European Commission started revising the Directive for Traction Unit Drivers in January 2022 (2007/59/EC). The first step, a call for evidence in January, was followed by a comprehensive sector-wide consultation on June 1, 2022, which will run until early September 2022. The objectives of the revision of the Directive are to improve the mobility of traction unit drivers throughout the EU’s rail network and make it easier for employers to assign drivers to work in various member states.
After more than 14 years, the existing directive is no longer considered to be up-to-date, due in part to insufficient harmonization of certification requirements, which hinders the mobility of traction unit drivers between member states and employers. In order to develop a certification system that is fit for traction unit drivers’ future tasks and a greater convergence between member states, several possible options are currently being analyzed and assessed. Based on the results of the consultation, the European Commission intends to present a draft revision in late 2022.
Revision of the Regulation on EU Guidelines for the Expansion of the Trans-European Transport Network
On December 14, 2021, the European Commission submitted a proposal to revise the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) Guidelines. The objective, as part of the European Green Deal, is to set the course for faster completion of the multimodal TEN-T core network by 2030 in particular, and the TEN-T comprehensive network by 2050 (2021 Integrated Report).
With the “extended TEN-T core network,” two new technical infrastructure parameters are to be implemented by 2040: a line speed of at least 160 km/h on passenger transport lines, for the most part, and a structure gage profile in rail freight transport/combined transport (standardized cross-sections of the infrastructure that ensures space to guarantee the unrestricted passage of vehicles and loads with certain characteristics and dimensions must be maintained) with a standard of at least P400 (a profile that is suitable for 4 m high semi-trailers). In view of the announced efficiency gains in links with the European rail freight transport corridors, the draft’s proposals include adjustments for more efficient governance. Initial votes in the Council highlighted the member states’ concerns about possible additional or new investment obligations due to changes in specifications. Work in the Council working groups is to continue under the Czech Presidency of the EU Council from July 1, 2022. Parallel negotiations in the Parliament are ongoing. The dossier is expected to be completed in 2023. The revision of the TEN-T Guidelines is also relevant to Germany, as almost one-third of the DB network is part of the TEN-T core network.
Revision of the Regulation concerning the creation of a European Rail Network for competitive freight transport
The regulation to create a European rail network for competitive freight transport, adopted in 2010, was the first instrument to improve the operation of the most important international railway routes for freight transport both within the EU and with third countries. Nine European rail freight transport (RFC) corridors were created to achieve this. Central sales structures, products and committee structures were also established to manage the RFC corridors. A further two corridors were added in 2017 and 2018. Six of the now 11 European rail freight transport corridors run through Germany. The corridors are being developed to implement the European Green Deal and the European Commission’s Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy. As part of the revision of the TEN-T Guidelines, proposals have already been submitted to amend the Regulation to establish a rail freight transport corridor. The aim is, among other things, to improve the governance of the rail freight transport corridors between member states, infrastructure operators and advisory groups (including train operating companies and terminal operators). The role of the European coordinator for transport corridors as an intermediary should also be strengthened. Proposals for the restructuring of European capacity management and for more efficient sales and distribution are to be presented in late 2022/early 2023.
European initiative for sustainable european freight transport
The European Commission is looking to tap into further potential for energy savings in European freight transport. To this end, it plans to present a proposal for the first quarter of 2023 on the revised “Directive concerning setting the maximum permitted dimensions for road vehicles in national and cross-border traffic and setting the maximum permitted weights in cross-border traffic.” The preparatory stakeholder surveys have begun. The use of zero-emissions vehicles with a maximum length of 25.25 m and a weight of 60 t in combined transport and, if applicable, approval of additional load capacities will be examined as part of a follow-up assessment. The European Commission would also like to assess a possible general increase in dimensions and weights and clearer or uniform requirements in cross-border deployments in connection with the impact on infrastructure and intermodal competition.
The European Commission is also simultaneously working on a revision of the “Directive on the establishment of common rules for certain types of combined transport of goods between member states” (Combined Transport Directive). After the European Commission’s first initiative was withdrawn in 2017, a proposal for a revised directive is now planned for early 2023. The European Commission’s starting points include the development of future eligibility for combined transport, measures to support the sector, requirements for harmonization and potential to increase competitiveness.