Fri. Jul 1st, 2022

Luxembourg, 2 June 2022

Transport files of the fit for 55 package: General approaches

Infographic – Fit for 55: increasing the uptake of greener fuels in the aviation and maritime sectors: See full infographic

The Council adopted general approaches on the legislative proposals of the fit for 55 package that relate to transport (alternative fuels infrastructure, FuelEU Maritime and ReFuelEU Aviation).

This is an important step in the implementation of the fit for 55 legislative package, which should make it possible for the EU to meet its climate objectives: a reduction of at least 55% in net greenhouse gas emissions compared with 1990 levels by 2030, and carbon neutrality by 2050. For the transport sector in particular, the goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 90% (the sector currently accounts for more than a quarter of EU emissions).

Alternative fuels infrastructure

Infographic – Fit for 55: towards more sustainable transport: See full infographic

The Council started its meeting with the adoption of a general approach on the draft regulation on the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure (AFIR).

The objective of the proposal is to ensure EU-wide deployment of publicly accessible electric recharging and alternative fuels refuelling infrastructure in the road transport, aviation and waterborne transport sectors. It also aims to ensure that the infrastructure is interoperable and user-friendly.

The revised rules will send a clear signal to citizens and stakeholders that user-friendly recharging infrastructure will be installed wherever it is needed, throughout the EU. They will also remove a barrier to the use of zero- and low-emission vehicles and vessels, create a virtuous circle, and give the transport sector the means to significantly reduce its carbon footprint.

During the debate, ministers expressed unanimous support for the objectives and approach of the presidency’s proposal. The general approach retains the fundamental aspects of the Commission proposal but makes some adjustments, in particular to take account of the particular dynamics of the electric heavy-duty vehicle segment and of hydrogen. It also ensures that electric recharging requirements are consistent with the diverse situations on the ground and that investments are proportionate to traffic levels, without compromising the quality of service offered to users.

A number of ministers noted that important developments are expected in the heavy-duty vehicle sector. The general approach therefore includes a clause on specific review in the short term. A medium-term review of the whole text is also provided for.

Renewable and low-carbon fuels in maritime transport

The Council then unanimously adopted its general approach on a proposal to promote the use of renewable and low-carbon fuels in maritime transport (FuelEU Maritime).

The proposal aims to increase the demand for and consistent use of renewable and low-carbon fuels in the maritime sector, while ensuring the smooth operation of maritime traffic and avoiding distortions in the internal market.

During their discussion, ministers largely supported the objectives of the proposal, insofar as it promotes the use of renewable and low-carbon fuels in a sector that still relies almost entirely on fossil fuels. A large majority of ministers agreed that the balance found in the compromise makes it possible both to maintain the approach of the Commission proposal, ensuring its full environmental effectiveness and the achievement of climate objectives, and to take into account the geographical specificities of member states.

A number of ministers drew attention to the proposal’s strong link with other initiatives in the fit for 55 package and also stressed the importance of the global dimension of maritime transport, both for the ambitions to be pursued, especially within the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and to address concerns related to carbon leakage or re-routing which could be caused by the obligations to reduce ships’ greenhouse gas intensity.

Sustainable air transport

Subsequently, the Council adopted its general approach on a proposal aimed at ensuring a level playing field for a sustainable air transport sector (ReFuelEU Aviation).

The proposal aims to increase both demand for and supply of sustainable aviation fuels, including synthetic aviation fuels, while ensuring a level playing field across the EU air transport market.

During the Council’s discussion, ministers largely supported the objectives of the proposal. They presented their views on how such objectives would be achieved by using different types of fuel and by using different levels of uptake of fuels in the coming years. Several delegations highlighted the need to preserve transport links and to take account of the specific situations of different member states. Ministers also underlined the need to maintain the competitiveness of the European aviation sector, which is facing the consequences of the pandemic. They stressed the importance of ensuring sufficient production and distribution capacity to supply the sustainable aviation fuels needed for the sector and to avoid market fragmentation.

Intelligent transport systems (ITS)

The Council adopted a general approach on the draft directive on the deployment of intelligent transport systems (ITS). The revision of this directive aims to take account of technological developments since 2010, such as connected and automated mobility, on-demand mobility applications, and multimodal transport. It also aims to enhance the availability and interoperability of the digital data that feed these services.

The proposal is also part of the overall digitalisation priority. It therefore contributes to creating the common European mobility data space.

The text of the Council’s general approach strikes a balance between the ambition to make progress in the systematic and harmonised deployment of intelligent transport systems, on the one hand, and the need to move forward in a gradual manner, taking full account of the benefits and costs incurred, on the other.

The text retains the important advances of the Commission proposal compared to the current directive, but it significantly strengthens the role of member states in deciding on the conditions for implementing the new obligations, in particular for determining the geographical coverage and timetable for the data and services to be provided.

The Council text distinguishes between, on the one hand, the political decision on the necessary types of data and the critical services to be made available, which are set out in the annex to the directive and may be amended by delegated act, and, on the other, implementation issues, including timing and geographical scope, which will be established in an implementing act accompanying that political decision.

Ro-ro passenger ships

The Council adopted its general approach on the draft directive on improved stability requirements for ro-ro passenger ships. This proposal, although highly technical in nature, is important for increasing the safety level of these vessels and therefore for better protecting our citizens.

Ro-ro passenger ships operate numerous maritime routes within Member States, between Member States and with third countries. They are therefore of major importance for the mobility of passengers and goods in Europe.

Ministers supported this proposal, which ensures the level of safety of these ships by ensuring, as far as possible, consistency with the international standards for stability of damaged passenger ships, which were recently updated by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) under the 2020 SOLAS Convention. These new international standards must be supplemented in order not to lower the level of the requirements already in force in the Union for new small vessels. For that reason, the text of the Council’s general approach adhered to the logic of the Commission proposal by providing for a level of safety requirements equivalent to existing EU law.

Trans-European transport network (TEN-T)

Ministers held an exchange of views on the draft regulation on the development of the trans-European transport network (TEN-T), based on a progress report. They agreed that the policy on the development of the trans-European transport network is a key instrument of the Union’s transport policy. It must encourage sustainable and more efficient transport of people and goods while also strengthening the EU’s economic, social and territorial cohesion by creating a reliable, high-quality transport system free of physical interruptions, missing links and bottlenecks.

Ministers agreed on the principle of revising the regulation currently in force in order to facilitate the transition to sustainable modes of transport. They supported aligning the development of the TEN-T network with the EU’s climate and sustainable development objectives, strengthening the resilience of the TEN-T network and improving the effectiveness of its governance tools.

Ministers pointed out specific points requiring attention, with questions about certain elements of the Commission proposal, in particular the level of certain requirements and deadlines for implementation.

Underlining the importance of this proposal, which concerns infrastructure development in all EU member states, delegations noted that discussions in the Council have progressed significantly. However, given the scope of the revision, the Council has not yet reached agreement on this legislative proposal and the work of the Council’s preparatory bodies will have to continue.

Situation in Ukraine

Over lunch, ministers exchanged views on the situation in Ukraine following their informal video conference meeting on 8 April in order to provide a coordinated response in the field of transport to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.

Since that meeting, various actions have been carried out at European level: a draft mandate from the Council to the Commission to negotiate an agreement to temporarily liberalise certain road freight operations between the European Union and Ukraine and Moldova has been adopted and should allow the Commission to start negotiations swiftly.

On 12 May, the Commission presented an action plan to help Ukraine export its agricultural products through the establishment of ‘solidarity lanes’ to optimise supply chains and controls between Ukraine and the EU, to establish new transport routes and to avoid bottlenecks. This action plan is based in particular on a platform for exchanges between stakeholders bringing together industry, logistics, representatives of member states and Ukrainian authorities. Short-term measures are also envisaged, including the identification of the logistical capacities available in the EU, as well as medium- and long-term measures to increase the capacity of infrastructure to accommodate larger flows of goods from Ukraine.

On 23 May, the Commission also adopted an emergency plan to strengthen transport resilience in times of crisis, building on experience from the public health crisis (COVID-19) or linked to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. In the form of a toolbox, it is based on 10 measures: adapting legislation to crises; providing adequate financial support; creating green lanes to facilitate road freight transport flows; having a coordinated approach to restrictions on free movement within the EU; maintaining minimum transport links and passenger protection; exchanging information among member states; increasing cybersecurity; introducing emergency tests to check the resilience of the sector; co-operating with international partners.

In the light of these elements, and fully supporting all the initiatives and actions described above, ministers held an exchange of views on the various possibilities to remove obstacles and best implement the commitments made in the field of transport to meet the challenges posed by the war in Ukraine.

Any other business

Under any other business, the presidency briefed ministers on the state of play of the proposed decision on the implementation of the notification of offsetting requirements under the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) for aircraft operators established in the EU. The Permanent Representatives Committee endorsed a mandate for negotiations with the European Parliament at its meeting on 20 May 2022.

The Dutch and Austrian delegations presented the second progress report on the platform on international rail passenger transport.

The Danish delegation expressed concerns about developments in the road freight transport sector in view of the strong growth in the number of driver attestations for third-country drivers.

In addition, the Polish delegation presented a joint statement by nine member states (Bulgaria, Czechia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Romania) on the actions needed at European level to enable the continuation and completion of infrastructure investments.

Moreover, the Greek delegation informed about the illegal seizure of two-Greek flagged vessels by Iranian armed groups in the Persian Gulf.

As the last item, the incoming Czech presidency presented its work programme for the second half of 2022.

Meeting information
  • Meeting n°3874
  • Luxembourg
  • 2 June 2022
  • 09:30
Preparatory documents

Outcome documents

Press releases