Overview of the EU policy framework

In view of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement, the EU has set ambitious targets for a fair and inclusive transition towards the decarbonization of the European economy (European Commission, 2019). According to the EU smart and sustainable mobility strategy (European Commission, 2020), the target is to reduce GHG emissions from transport by at least 90% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels. To achieve this, the EU is implementing a number of policies and initiatives aimed at promoting the use of low-carbon transport modes.

Strategic priorities deriving from the smart and sustainable mobility strategy (European Commission, 2020) and the new EU urban mobility framework (European Commission, 2020) are the following: Doubling rail freight traffic by 2050; revising of CO2 emission performance standards for heavy-duty vehicles; enhancing multimodal connections with urban rail and inland waterways; shifting to electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, as well as cargo bikes; developing new distribution models and infrastructure; capitalizing on dynamic routing and smart services; data collection/submission at least for GHG and pollutant emissions, noise, congestion, accidents, modal share, access to mobility services; development of multimodal freight terminals in TEN-T urban nodes; and integrating existing Sustainable Urban Logistics Plans (SULPs) in the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP) framework. In addition, the current TEN-T EU policy for the development of an EU-wide multimodal transport network aims to contribute to EU priorities for the environment and climate change, as well as the competitiveness and socio-economic and territorial cohesion (European Union, 2013).

Implementing the EU policy, member-states are setting national targets to reduce emissions from transport, with different degrees of ambition. For example, Germany and the Netherlands have set the target of at least 30% of new car sales to be electric vehicles by 2030. European governments and companies are also investing for the upgrade of sustainable logistics and supply chain management infrastructure and services. In the postal sector, companies, such as PostNord in Sweden, have set ambitious targets to reduce their carbon footprint by promoting sustainable transport policies. More information on specific national policies and company initiatives are presented in the relevant subsections of Chapter 4.

Overall, the EU is making significant efforts to promote the green transition of the transport sector  and to implement sustainable logistics and supply chain management practices, including urban deliveries and last-mile transportation. However, there are diverse needs and different levels of ambition between member-states, while there is still a long way to go to achieve the EU target to become “carbon-neutral” by 2050.