OPP Meeting Summary: EP TRAN Committee – Deployment of infrastructure for alternative fuels in the European Union: Time to act! (7 June 2018)

A summary of the consideration of the draft report is now available.

EP TRAN Committee – 7 June 2018
Deployment of infrastructure for alternative fuels in the European Union: Time to act!
TRAN/8/12191
– Consideration of draft report
View related documents and the next stage of the procedure in the Policy Pipeline


The Rapporteur Ismail Ertug (S&D, DE) made the following opening remarks:

  • almost a quarter of all CO2 emissions came from the transport sector, and three quarters of this came from road transport;
  • there was not only environmental incentive for decarbonisation from the Paris Agreement, but also economic factors as the majority of crude oil was imported into the EU;
  • there were three most important opportunities in the transport sector;
    • a modal shift to climate friendly transport. He mentioned the transport of goods, especially by rail and inland waterways;
    • it was important to invest in different forms of public transport;
    • the shift to alternative transport fuels. The EU had big shortcomings in the installation on infrastructure and there was a lack of market entry for new types of vehicles;
  • his draft text suggested to re-examine existing national frameworks with voluntary objectives and make them mandatory;
  • Member States (MS) had different levels of ambition which needed to be remembered but overall the situation needed to be improved;
  • issues such as city networks and loading also needed to be addressed;
  • he believed that a European Clean Mobility Fund should be created in order to promote investments;
  • he stressed that the definition of alternative fuels needed to be revised. Fossil fuels should no longer be considered as alternative fuels in the medium-term;
  • an own-initiative report could only be very limited in scope, and this was the reason for only focusing on road transport but he hoped that inland waterways could be added in due time.

Massimiliano Salini (EPP, IT)

  • with regard to the directive the biggest issue was the lack a coherent response from the member states;
  • technological neutrality was of great importance;
  • this must be consumer driven approach, consumers were discouraged from buying alternative fuel vehicles due to the lack of infrastructure;
  • the EU must not become overly enamoured with any particular technology;
  • they must consider the European fund for clean mobility, possibly a particular fund is unnecessary but the EU must consider how much money will be devoted to this;
  • targets often lead to protectionist measures from states in order to achieve their targets therefore he asked that the rapporteur considered whether these were necessary;
  • he believed that there needed to be a more coherent approach towards the development of the battery industry in Europe;
  • the EU had a large automotive industry and the social impact of this transition needed to be considered.

Mark Demesmaeker (ECR, BE)

  • he agreed that some member states would need to make more effort if the EU was going to transition to low emission or no emission transport;
  • if the EU wished to maintain its competitive edge it would need to keep up with technological innovation;
  • member states were falling behind with regard to their national policy frameworks and these were key to this transition;
  • long term contracts were signed with a number of private contractors with regard to providing services at motorways, these could include clauses on the provision of alternative fuels infrastructure;
  • examples such as this could serve as best practice;
  • he reiterated the importance of technological neutrality.

Dominique Riquet (ALDE, FR)

  • the aim was to have a broad consensus not just geographically but also in technological terms;
  • he hoped that the commission would be more active on this;
  • he appreciated the €800 million that was intended to be spent on this issue but given that the amount needed was probably closer to €22 billion it was clearly not enough;
  • he was not optimistic about the amount of money available for transport after the next budget;
  • without adequate infrastructure available, consumers would not buy alternative fuel cars and no progress will be made;
  • they therefore needed to be imaginative with the money that they did have available.

Keith Taylor (Greens/EFA, UK)

  • the greens continued to believe that private sector should spend more on infrastructure, that this should not be funded from the public purse and that the EU cannot compel member states to install this equipment;
  • he was happy to see that there was an appreciation that alternative fuels were not always carbon efficient;
  • he was happy to see the increased support in the report for the use of rail and inland waterways as well as the creation of a battery industry;
  • he reiterated the importance of technological neutrality;
  • he said that he supported increased use of electric bikes in urban areas as long as these were powered primarily from electricity from renewable sources.

Tania González Peñas (GUE/NGL, ES)

  • the EU was lagging behind in its targets with regards to the number of charging point because of a lack of binding requirements;
  • she generally felt that this report was on the right track but she also believed that there needed to be a higher focus on the establishment of a true network of alternative fuel infrastructure so that the European Union could catch up with the industry after many years behind;
  • her group would be publishing a paper highlighting the need for corporation between the private and public sectors;
  • there needed to be a strategic focus on encouraging citizens to use public transport rather than the more polluting private transport;
  • this needed to be binding and there needed to be basic standards on the kinds of charging stations installed, with a focus on provision in urban areas where pollution was at its highest;
  • not all alternative fuels were made equal some were less sustainable than others, gas was a particular example with sustainability problems.

Dieter-Lebrecht Koch (EPP, DE)

  • technological neutrality was essential and there needed to be a focus on intermodal transport and not just modal shift;
  • discussions on infrastructure should not just consider current business models but should appreciate that new business models were coming into existence.

Jacqueline Foster (ECR, UK) 

  • she wished to know which states were failing in their obligations under the directive;
  • she said that the reason it had been left as a directive was because different member states needed different solutions due to their own fuel requirements;
  • this was unfortunately an urban centric approach and this didn’t take into account the realities of rural living;
  • she had doubts about the feasibility of this program receiving adequate funding as she could not see the budget committee agreeing to this;
  • one of the best forms of carbon free energy was nuclear but this was politically controversial;
  • she was optimistic about the research that was being done into alternative fuels.

Chair Karima Delli (Greens/EFA, FR)

  • she reminded Jackie Foster that France was also reducing its share of nuclear energy.

Inés Ayala Sender (S&D, ES)

  • she felt that this was an urgent matter and that it was good that the EU was making strides to improve access to infrastructure as industry was making great strides forward as well;
  • there were differences between rural and urban requirements and therefore the EU needed to leave space for these divergences;
  • local authorities which would be expected to plan the installation of this equipment must be better supported and young people must be trained in how to maintain these new systems;
  • they must consider better financing for research and innovation.

Matthijs van Miltenburg (ALDE, NL) 

  • this was a good report but they must continue to be ambitious;
  • inconsistent strategy amongst the member states was leading to unsatisfactory results with some policy frameworks supporting alternative fuels more than others
  • he asked that the Commission came with a proposal on whether a unified payment systems was a necessity in the EU and whether legislation was necessary for this;
  • he asked whether a separate fund in order to finance this infrastructure was necessary;
  • he referred to the Japanese development of hydrogen cars and asked whether the automotive sector in Europe could be guaranteed a future.

Dominique Riquet (ALDE, FR)

  • he said that as battery lives for cars extend the amount of infrastructure needed and the number of charging points required would fall;
  • this may mean that the infrastructure that is installed would be very costly and ultimately not be that much use as there may be a preference for rapids charging stations in the future;
  • he said that if battery lives were to extend or hydrogen became common then the infrastructure would be obsolete by the time it was built;
  • they were disappointed by the CEF and the funds allocated at to it.

Chair Karima Delli (Greens/EFA, FR)

  • alternative fuels can mean anything and everything, not all alternative fuels were clean;
  • the only thing bio about some biofuels was the name;
  • she reiterated her support for a ban on Palm oil, and said the agricultural land should be used for food and not a fuel;
  • they must consider the impact on employment that these changes would have as 13 million people are employed in the automotive sector;
  • she highlighted French research into hydrogen and said that this must be considered, she reminded the committee that they were ‘sitting on a Volcano’;
  • the member states were not following the 2014 directive or were not implementing it fast enough and she hoped to see this expedited.

A Representative of the European commission made the following remarks

  • she was optimistic about the future of alternative transport and said that this was clearly not simply an infrastructure issue as in some places there were more charging stations than vehicles;
  • due to the technological developments which were ongoing, detailed plans were difficult to make;
  • vehicles needed to be more affordable and available in different categories;
  • there needed to be a full analysis of the charging points available;
  • legal certainty issues were being addressed but consumer trust was also needed;
  • she could not commit to a legislative proposal by the end of the year but it was a priority for the commission;
  • technological neutrality was important;
  • she would not comment on the necessity for a dedicated fund but the commission would continue to support the rollout of alternative fuels;
  • they were considering a blending facility under the CEF to encouraging industry;
  • Member states would have to provide their plans for the next year and the Commission was working closely with them;
  • she understood that jobs and growth was a priority and this would be a necessity if they were going to have this level of ambition.

The Rapporteur Ismail Ertug (S&D, DE)

  • it was true that financial resources would remain limited, the issue was that financial resources were very splintered due to the different funds created under the MFF;
  • he asked that the commission would at least consider how this could be financed even if they were not prepared to introduce a new directive;
  • the majority of the groups support this approach and he asked that the Commission took this seriously
  • he asked that they did not ask the Committee to wait another two years;
  • those who had been in Parliament a long time had rarely seen any movement by member states.

Inés Ayala Sender (S&D, ES)

  • she said that the Commission continued to frustrate and the failure to use their legislative initiative was disappointing given the strong support of parliament.

Source: One Policy Place

The simultaneous interpretation of debates provided by the EU institutions serves only to facilitate communication amongst the participants in the meeting. It does not constitute an authentic record of proceedings. One Policy Place uses these translations so this text is only a guide and should not be relied on as an official account of the meeting. Only the original speech or the revised written translation of that speech is authentic.

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