Second report of Session 2021–22 Contents

6The EU’s Smart Mobility Strategy21

This EU document is politically important because:

  • it sets-out the legislative and policy initiatives that the EU intends to introduce in the field of transport over the next four years;
  • these initiatives are geared towards addressing the challenges—and making the most of the opportunities created by—climate change, and the digitisation of transport systems; and
  • the legislative and policy proposal trailed in the Strategy may have implications for Northern Ireland under the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol to the UK/EU Withdrawal Agreement, and will also be of interest to UK-based stakeholders as important reference points for the Government’s own plans in related areas.


  • Draw this Report chapter to the attention of the Transport Committee and the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee.


6.1The Communication under scrutiny—the Commission’s Smart Mobility Strategy—sets out legislative and policy measures that the EU aims to introduce over the next four years. The Commission explains that these measures are necessary to ensure that European’s transport system is smart, sustainable and resilient.

6.2The Strategy highlights the economic and social benefits of transport to Europe. It also flags the associated costs and impact of the sector on the health and well-being of EU citizens (from increased greenhouse gas emissions to air, noise and water pollution, accidents, congestion and the loss of biodiversity).

6.3The Communication sets out ten key areas for future action and details 82 individual initiatives that it believes will help the EU to achieve its vision of developing a smarter, more sustainable and more resilient transport system by 2050. The Strategy’s headline action points are divided into three overarching objectives (sustainable, smart and resilient transport).

6.4For further information on the Communication and our initial assessment of its legal and political importance see our Thirty-eighth Report of Session 2019–21.22

6.5In our Thirty-eighth Report of Session 2019–21, we considered the Commission Communication, and its content therein, deeming the document to be politically important. We wrote to the Minister responsible for the document, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport (Rachel Maclean MP) requesting further information on the steps that the Government had taken/was going to take in light of the measures suggested by the Commission following the end of the post-Brexit transition period. Our letter principally focussed on the potential implications of the Commission’s Strategy for UK law and policy, in particular, concerning Northern Ireland, and UK-based manufactures and stakeholders. The Minister has since written in reply—dated 16 March 2021—and her response is considered below.23

The Minister’s letter of 16 March 2021

6.6In our letter of 24 February 2021, we noted that the Commission intends to propose a revision to current EU car and van emission reduction standards and questioned whether this development would require UK manufacturers selling vehicles into the EU market to meet these new standards. We asked the Minister to provide further information on this point and explain the guidance that the Government would offer to UK manufacturers who sell into the EU market while also doing international business with non-EU Member States.

6.7In response, the Minister confirms that UK manufacturers placing vehicles on the EU market would have to meet these emission reduction standards (just as EU manufacturers placing vehicles on the UK market would have to meet respective UK standards). The Minister also notes that, given the UK’s own plans with regard to the decarbonisation of transport, the Government believes that it is unlikely that UK manufacturers will face significant barriers when selling vehicles to the EU or vice versa. The Minister further highlights that the UK has committed to phase-out internal combustion engine cars and vans by 2030 and notes that the Government is encouraging the EU to show greater ambition in this regard.

6.8We also drew attention to the Commission’s plans to implement the ICAO Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Civil Aviation (CORSIA) through a revision of the EU Emission Trading System (ETS) Directive while recalling that, through the UK/EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), the UK and the EU are committed to having carbon pricing mechanisms for aviation recognised in their respective ETS arrangements.24 The Committee asked the Minister to provide an update on whether the Government intends to implement CORSIA and, if so, what impact it envisages this having on the UK’s aviation sector.

6.9In response, the Minister states that the UK plays a leading role in ICAO and was instrumental in the negotiation of CORSIA. She confirms that the UK is committed to participating fully in CORSIA from the start of the Pilot Phase in 2021. Regarding its wider impact on the UK’s aviation sector, the Minister notes that, while CORSIA requires airlines to offset the growth in international aviation emissions above 2019 levels by purchasing offset credits from other sectors, the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in depressed global activity levels which are unlikely to return to 2019 levels until 2024. As such, UK airlines will probably have minimal or no CORSIA obligations for the early years of the scheme. The Minister also notes that the Government conducted a high-level consultation in early 2021 outlining its proposed approach to implementing CORSIA alongside the UK Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). The Government plans to consult with relevant UK stakeholders later this year on more detailed proposals for CORSIA and UK ETS interaction.

6.10We also drew attention to the Commission’s plans for a new initiative on access to car data, through which it will provide a framework guaranteeing fair and effective access to vehicle data by mobility service providers. We asked the Minister to explain the potential implications of such developments for UK-based vehicle manufacturers and users.

6.11In reply, the Minister notes that in-vehicle data has the potential to provide new and additional information which should improve both road safety and traffic management, as well as supporting the development of existing vehicle automation and new mobility services. At this stage, however, the Minister does not believe there is sufficient information on the Commission’s planned initiative to assess any likely impact for UK-based car manufacturers or users. That said, the Minister recalls that, as part of the TCA, the UK and the EU have agreed to facilitate the cross-border flow of data by prohibiting requirements to store or process data in a specific location, preventing the imposition of costly requirements for UK businesses. The Minister also states that the TCA confirms strong data protection commitments by both the UK and the EU, protecting consumers, helping to promote trust in the digital economy, and continuing to uphold the UK’s high data protection standards.

6.12Finally, in our letter, we questioned the Minister on whether the EU’s Smart Mobility Strategy could affect the substance of EU law in place under the Northern Ireland Protocol—including that relating to vehicle emissions in the event that the applicable EU legislation in Northern Ireland is amended or replaced in accordance with Article 13(4) of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland to the UK/EU Withdrawal Agreement and that, in addition, the Strategy may lead to a broadening of EU law in Northern Ireland in the event that any legislation arising from the Strategy falls within the scope of the Protocol. We asked the Minister to provide a list of forthcoming proposed EU legislative acts—trailed in the Strategy—that the Government believes will engage the Protocol.

6.13In her response, the Minister emphasises that any new legislation arising from the Strategy would only become applicable in Northern Ireland following UK and EU agreement in the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee. The Minister also notes that, while the Protocol relies on specific sector EU legislative provision, if there was to be a new EU Act relevant to areas of the Strategy—such as de-carbonisation or digitisation—which was considered to be in scope of the Protocol, then its applicability in Northern Ireland would need to be discussed at Joint Committee level and a decision reached on whether or not the EU Act should be applied so as to maintain the good functioning of the Protocol.

6.14To conclude, the Minister helpfully provides an overview of those items from the Commission’s Strategy that may potentially engage the Protocol. These are set out in the Annex to her letter and are outlined below for information.

EU Smart Mobility Strategy: initiatives that may engage the NI Protocol

Initiative number

Initiative title

Potential NIP relevance

Item 3

Revision of the CO2 emission performance standards for cars and vans, for lorries and put in place CO2 emission performance standards for buses.

This is most likely to be a revision of Regulation (EU) 2019/631 and Regulation (EU) 2019/1242 which are not directly in scope of the NIP. However, it could also relate to Regulation (EC) No 715/2007 on type approval of motor vehicles with respect to emissions from light passenger and commercial vehicles (Euro 5 and Euro 6) and on access to vehicle repair and maintenance information, which is in scope of the NIP.

Item 6

Propose post-Euro 6/VI emission standards for cars, vans, lorries and buses.

This is most likely to amend two Regulations in scope of the NIP:

Regulation (EC) No 715/2007 on type approval of motor vehicles with respect to emissions from light passenger and commercial vehicles (Euro 5 and Euro 6) and on access to vehicle repair and maintenance information; and

Regulation (EC) No 595/2009 on type-approval of motor vehicles and engines with respect to emissions from heavy duty vehicles (Euro VI) and on access to vehicle repair and maintenance information and amending Regulation (EC) No 715/2007 and Directive 2007/46/EC and repealing Directives 80/1269/EEC, 2005/55/EC and 2005/78/EC.

Item 8

Develop coherent rules for environmental, energy and safety performance of tyres.

This is most likely to relate to existing Regulation (EU) 2019/2144 on type-approval requirements for motor vehicles and their trailers, and systems, components and separate technical units intended for such vehicles, as regards their general safety and the protection of vehicle occupants and vulnerable road users. That Regulation is not itself in scope of the NIP but amends other Regulations which are in scope, namely Regulation (EU) 2018/858; Regulations (EC) No 78/2009, (EC) No 79/2009 and (EC) No 661/2009.

Item 75

Adapt the eCall legal framework to new telecommunication technologies; consider the extension of eCall to powered two wheelers, trucks, buses and agricultural tractors.

This may relate to Regulation (EU) 2015/758 concerning type-approval requirements for the deployment of the eCall in-vehicle system based on the 112 service and amending Directive 2007/46/EC, which is in scope of the NIP.


6.15We draw this Report chapter to the attention of the Transport Committee and the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee.

21 Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy—putting European transport on track for the future; Council and COM number: Unnumbered and COM(20) 789 + ADD 1; Legal base: --; Department: Transport; Devolved Administrations: Consulted; ESC number: 41716.

22 Thirty-eighth Report HC 229–xxxiii (2019–21), Chapter 4 (24 February 2021).

24 Emissions trading is a market-based approach to controlling pollution by providing economic incentives for reducing the emissions of pollutants. A central authority (usually a Government body) allocates or sells a limited number of permits that allow a discharge of a specific quantity of a specific pollutant over a set period of time.

Published: 1 June 2021 Site information    Accessibility statement