With the White Paper "Transport 2050", the EU Commission presented a roadmap for a major reform of the European transport system ("Roadmap") at the end of March this year. The Roadmap is intended to tackle essential challenges and bottlenecks regarding a single European transport area, including transport infrastructure, investments, innovation and the Single Market are to be removed and the CO2 emissions from transport are intended to be reduced by 60 % by 2050.

The objective is creating a more competitive single European transport system including a perfectly integrated transport network which connects the various transport carriers and enables major changes regarding passenger and freight transport patterns, without specifying specific technologies in this context.

The Roadmap sets objectives for the different modes of transportation (i) within a city (ii) between cities and (iii) long distances with various destinations, whereas the following three key objectives are pursued in all cases:

  • Shifting road traffic to rail and water: With distances of more than 300 kilometers, at least half the passenger transport is intended to be shifted to rail by 2050. Freight traffic is also intended to be increasingly shifted from the road to rail or shipping by that point in time. In order to do so, the European infrastructure network has intended to be expanded accordingly, which would cost approximately 550 billion Euros according to Commission estimates. One of the objectives would be creating a fully operable European-wide core network of transport corridors with facilities for an efficient change of carriers by 2030 with a network of high quality and high capacities by 2050 as well as an according series of information services. In this context, all airports of the core network would have to be connected to the rail network and the various common carriers would have to be interconnected in a better way, among other things.
  • Reduction of CO2 emissions: The CO2 transport emissions are to be reduced by 60 percent by 2050. This is also intended to considerably reduce Europe's dependency on foreign oil. The share of low-carbon aircraft fuel is intended to reach 40 percent and the shipping emissions are intended to be cut by 40 percent by 2050. Cars using conventional fuel are intended to be abolished in city traffic by 2050. New engines, fuels and traffic management systems result in greater efficiency and less emissions.
  • Increase in mobility: According to the assessment of the Vice President of the Commission in charge of transport, all suggested mobility scenarios – including gaining independence of transport from oil - could be achieved without this restricting mobility, so that the competitiveness of the transport systems can be maintained.

Whereas the EU Commission presented a concept for an extensive restructuring of existing transport systems und processes with the White Paper described above, the German Federal Government focuses on electric mobility with its government program on the topic of mobility, which was adopted on May 18, 2011. The adoption of the Government Program was preceded by the presentation of the second report of the National Electric Mobility Platform (Nationale Plattform Elektromobilität, NPE). The NPE had been created to make recommendations to the German Federal Government regarding its future policies in the field of electric mobility.

The program which has now been adopted presents the measures planned by the State in this area in detail. The program is intended to help achieving the objective of having one million electric vehicles on German streets by 2020 which is – in view of the fact that there are currently only approximately 2,300 such cars – a very ambitioned goal. For this purposes, investments in the amount of one billion Euros are provided for research and development until the end of the current legislative period among other things. A specific emphasis is placed on the issue of research in batteries. In view of the currently still high costs for electric vehicles, the Government also intends to create financial incentives such as tax advantages with the taxation of automobiles and company cars. However, especially also non-monetary user incentives, such as amendments of road traffic regulations, are intended to promote the spreading of electronic vehicles. The idea of a direct buyer's premium, however, as is currently granted in France, for example, which is currently the most important market in this field apart from China and Japan - is rejected by the German Federal Government. Further attractive regulatory frameworks are intended to support the creation of a leading market for electric mobility in Germany.

Finally, the important link between electric mobility and renewable energies is emphasized. However, only if it is ensured that the energy required for electric vehicles can be generated from renewable energy source will electric mobility be regarded as having a real chance of being successful on the market. Accordingly, the first few German car manufacturers recently announced that they themselves will invest in renewable-energy plants, so far mainly in the offshore sector.