Aviation

Transport Policy Outlook 19 September 2022 | by Christopher Mehigan | Sep, 2022

The State of the European Union debate in the European Parliament took place on the 14th of September, the President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, delivered a strong address that was well received with a focus on energy and the conflict on Ukraine. From a transport perspective there were two announcements in particular that stood out, one on Hydrogen and the other on Critical Raw Materials.

Hydrogen development to be supported

President von der Leyen called for the creation of an EU bank to foster investment in hydrogen projects, budgeted at €3 billion. In the speech, the President said: “hydrogen can completely change innovation in Europe”, which is why it is necessary to “move from a niche market to a mass market for hydrogen”.

The announcement is in line with the REPower EU Plan which was published in May 2022 which identified Hydrogen as key to replace natural gas, coal and oil in hard-to-decarbonise industries and transport. REPowerEU sets a target of 10 million tonnes of domestic renewable hydrogen production and 10 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen imports by 2030.

Hydrogen attracts a wide range of supporting and opposing views. The biggest issue is the energy that is used to generate the hydrogen, the majority of hydrogen production (96%) is through natural gas which results in significant amounts of CO2 emissions. Expect significant debate to follow on how these targets for hydrogen production will be met with a priority on using renewable sources.

European Critical Raw Materials

President von der Leyen noted the importance of secure and sustainable access to necessary raw materials such as rare earths and lithium, the risk associated with the concentration of supply and processing of these raw materials in a small number of countries.

Today, China controls the global processing industry. Almost 90 % of rare earths and 60 % of lithium are processed in China.

We will identify strategic projects all along the supply chain, from extraction to refining, from processing to recycling. And we will build up strategic reserves where supply is at risk.

This is why today I am announcing a European Critical Raw Materials Act.

The Critical Raw Materials Act seeks to establish secure and sustainable supply chains for industries that rely heavily on these materials and will be vital for the European batteries strategy and for the Transport sector that is set to rely more heavily upon electrification.

Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market, published a blog post discussing the importance of the announcement.

On Wednesday the 14th of September European Parliament voted on it’s position on the Renewable Energy Directive in the Plenary Session.

MEPs voted to increase the EU’s transport emissions reduction target from 13% to 16% by 2030. The higher ambition is to be achieved through a ramp up in the use of advanced biofuels and hydrogen-derived e-fuels.

MEPs voted to more than double the target for synthetic fuels to 5.7% by 2030 including a 1.2% sub-target for the maritime sector.

The rapporteur on the file, Markus Pieper (EPP), successfully brokered compromises with the major political groupings in the European Parliament to secure support for the file.

The next step will be the trilogue negotiations with Member States to reach a final text.

The European Commission has launched a consultation seeking the public’s views in order to consolidate and simplify the EU’s laws on passenger rights, ‘drawing lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic and make it more fit for future crises’.

The consultation covers five key topics:

  1. improved financial protection for air passengers against the risk of airline insolvencies and liquidity crises,
  2. reimbursement of air passengers who book through an intermediary ticket vendor,
  3. reimbursement in case an air passenger cancels because of a major crisis such as a pandemic or a natural disaster,
  4. passenger rights for journeys involving more than one transport mode, and
  5. improved enforcement of passenger rights in all transport modes.

The consultation is open until 7 December 2022.

Six members strong delegation of transport MEPs will visit Washington, D.C. next week to discuss the measures adopted on aviation safety, sustainability of maritime sector, green transition, use of drones, as well as the relaunch of tourism after the pandemic on both side of the Atlantic.

The delegation is scheduled to meet Members of the Congress, representatives of new Administration, industry, including Uber and AirBnB, and other relevant stakeholders in the areas of transport and tourism.

The next meeting of the European Parliament Transport and Tourism Committee will take place on Monday the 26th of September.

Included on the draft agenda for discussion are the new EU Urban Mobility Framework and the framework for the deployment of Intelligent Transport Systems in the field of road transport and for interfaces with other modes of transport.

You can see the full agenda here:

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