Cleared from scrutiny—further information requested.
(a) Commission Communication: Europe on the move—an agenda for a socially fair transition towards clean, competitive and connected mobility for all; (b) Commission Staff Working Document: towards clean, competitive and connected mobility: the contribution of transport research and innovation to the Mobility Package
(a) (38796), 9967/17 + ADD 1, COM(17) 283; (b) (38812), SWD(17) 223
39.1This Commission Communication and related staff working documents provide background to the Mobility Package—the European Commission’s set of initiatives seeking to establish a more integrated and sustainable EU transport system.
39.2These are linked closely with other EU initiatives under the Energy Union, Digital Single Market, Circular and Low Carbon Economy and Jobs, Growth and Investment Agenda. We will consider in the coming weeks an initial set of eight legislative proposals, focusing on road transport.
39.3The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Jesse Norman) informs us that the Government “broadly welcomes the Commission’s general objectives” outlined in the Mobility Package, and is “largely very supportive of the Commission’s work to improve vehicle safety and emissions standards”.
39.4The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), in its report entitled ‘UK Automotive Priorities 2017–2022’, highlights the importance of guaranteeing regulatory certainty through harmonised product regulation and type approval in the UK’s future relationship with the EU. The Report notes that:
“if the UK is to remain internationally competitive and secure investment, growth and jobs in automotive, government must take an ambitious, joined-up approach to automotive that delivers consistent policies on the UK/EU relationship, industrial strategy, and the transformational agendas on ultra low emission vehicles, digitalisation and connected autonomous mobility.”
39.5The Government, in its Explanatory Memorandum, states that “in matters such as setting fuel consumption standards for commercial vehicles, a co-ordinated approach will be required to ensure market harmonisation and the proportionate setting of future targets”. It also states that while it is supportive of the Commission’s aims to improve the general safety requirements for vehicles, low-volume manufacturers may require “appropriate exemptions” and regulation should be “cost-effective and proportionate”.
39.6SMMT report on specialist low-volume car manufacturers in the UK states that the UK, with over 100 such companies, is home to more specialist car manufacturers than any other country. These low-volume manufacturers export between 70 and 80 per cent of their output, and on average, 65 per cent of the components used to manufacture specialist fares are sourced in the UK, compared to 44 per cent for mainstream car manufacturers.
39.7We therefore wish to know whether the Government intends to pursue ‘“appropriate exemptions” for UK specialist low-volume manufacturers during negotiations on relevant proposals for the Mobility Package.
39.8We are informed that “the Government is also closely engaged with GEAR 2030 to better understand key scenarios which are likely to develop in the automotive sector in the future, and the challenges facing the automotive industry due to emerging trends by 2030”. Does the Government believe it will be possible to maintain an interaction with the high level group in future, or does it envisage that dialogue with the EU and other international partners on these issues will take place in different fora, e.g. the UN Economic Commission for Europe?
39.9Given the importance of maintaining a competitive and sustainable UK automotive industry, as well as ensuring that the UK continues to benefit from research and innovation in connected and autonomous vehicles, we believe that the UK automotive industry post 2019 should not be disadvantaged as a result of the outcome of negotiations on the Mobility Package.
39.10As we will be examining the legislative proposals in detail, we do not see a need to retain this communication under scrutiny, but do request a response to the questions.
(a) Commission Communication: Europe on the move—an agenda for a socially fair transition towards clean, competitive and connected mobility for all: (38796), 9967/17 + ADD 1, COM(17) 283; (b) Commission Staff Working Document: towards clean, competitive and connected mobility: the contribution of transport research and innovation to the Mobility Package: (38812), SWD(17) 223.
39.11The Communication and related staff working documents provide background to the Mobility Package—the European Commission’s set of initiatives seeking to establish a more integrated and sustainable EU transport system.
39.12The mobility sector, which encompasses all modes of transport, is cited as playing a vital economic role in the EU. As the Communication states:
“the free movement of people and goods within the internal market, and the economic, social and cultural benefits of a “Europe without frontiers’” rely on easy mobility and an accessible transport network within a Single European Transport Area”.
39.13In addition, the sector is a major employer and facilitator of the global competitiveness of the wider EU economy.
39.14It is within this context that the documents set out the Commission’s aims for the Mobility Package. The impact of other EU policy frameworks, such as the Energy Union, Digital Single Market, Circular and Low Carbon Economy and Jobs, Growth and Investment Agenda, is also noted.
39.15An initial set of eight legislative proposals, focusing on road transport, has been released along with the Communication, and we will review these shortly. Additional proposals are expected over the coming year.
39.16As background, the document sets out a number of key trends and challenges. The first of these is the need to maintain momentum towards the goal of a low carbon economy while responding to an increase in transport activity. The Commission estimates that between 2010 and 2050, there will be a 42 per cent increase in passenger transport, and a 60 per cent increase in freight transport. At the same time, the Commission has advocated the reduction of EU greenhouse gas emissions by at least 60 per cent by 2050. As road transport is responsible for almost 20 per cent of the EU’s emissions, the Commission believes that a move to zero-emission vehicles is needed.
39.17Other challenges identified are the need to change consumer behaviour and demand patterns, promote employment and competitiveness in the face of inevitable structural changes in the European automotive sector, improve road safety, and take full advantage of the opportunities created by digital technologies.
39.18The Communication stresses the need for an integrated approach at EU, national, regional and local levels, covering a range of mutually reinforcing policy areas. At EU level, a targeted set of common rules and standards, accompanied by a wide range of support measures, is envisaged. The Staff Working Document sets these out in greater detail.
39.19The Communication goes on to summarise some of the key initiatives aimed at accelerating the shift towards zero-emission mobility. These include legislative proposals relating to the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources and on the approval and market surveillance of motor vehicles. Both these proposals remain under scrutiny.
39.20Other new legislative proposals in the Mobility Package and highlighted in the document are those on adjusting the regulatory framework for road charging, revising rules on access to the road haulage sector, including working conditions for drivers; and, using digital technologies to support compliance with rules and to enable more integrated mobility.
39.21The importance of moving to automated transport options is also focused on, and the Communication refers to ongoing work by the GEAR 2030 high level group, which is tasked with developing recommendations on the future regulatory framework of the automotive sector. This work is being conducted in parallel with international efforts by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.
39.22The document stresses the importance of deployment of significant private and public investment in modernising the physical transport network, alternative fuel infrastructure and digital infrastructure. The Investment Plan for Europe, Connecting Europe Facility for Transport, and Cohesion Funds and European Regional Development Funds are all highlighted as sources of funding for transport-related projects.
39.23The accompanying Staff Working Document sets out the ongoing activities as well as proposed future actions required to facilitate the transition to cleaner, more connected and more competitive mobility. They focus on nine areas:
39.24This background document examines the current state of technology development in seven areas relating to transport, identifies focus areas for action, and outlines short and medium term actions. These are presented in seven roadmaps on the following subjects:
39.25Issues highlighted in the inter-related papers are:
39.26The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Jesse Norman) informs us that the Government “broadly welcomes the Commission’s general objectives for a clean, competitive and connected mobility as outlined in the Mobility Package Communication and accompanying documents”.
39.27In particular, the Government is “largely very supportive of the Commission’s work to improve vehicle safety and emissions standards”. The Memorandum notes that the Government has been pushing for more rigorous real world testing of pollutant emissions following the revelations about Volkswagen and falsified emissions testing results. It notes that the Commission’s aims to improve the general safety requirements for vehicles, through cost-effective and proportionate regulation, may require “appropriate exemptions for low volume manufacturers”.
39.28The Government agrees with the Commission that “in matters such as setting fuel consumption standards for commercial vehicles, a coordinated approach will be required to ensure market harmonisation and the proportionate setting of future targets”.
39.29The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State “sees potential in measures such as reporting and monitoring emissions data” to enable more informed decisions on the purchase of fuel efficient vehicles. The increased transparency that this brings “may also instil a degree of competition amongst vehicle manufacturers and accelerate the pace of fuel efficiency improvements and innovation”.
39.30The Memorandum goes on to outline initiatives taken by the Government to develop manufacturing and servicing skills, to support the UK’s transition to ultra low emission vehicles. The document notes that in 2016 the UK manufactured over 1.7 million cars, exporting over 1.3 million of these. The Government also engages closely with the GEAR 2030 Commission high level group so as to “better understand key scenarios which are likely to develop in the automotive sector in the future”.
39.31The Estonian Presidency intends to make an initial progress report to the Transport Council in December 2017.
597 The High Level Group on Automotive Industry (GEAR 2030) was set up by the Commission in 2015. Its role is to consider challenges and make recommendations for action in three areas: the adaptation of the value chain to new global challenges; automated and connected vehicles; and trade, international harmonisation and global competitiveness.
598 COM(16)767 and COM(16)031.
20 November 2017