The European Commission is stepping up its support to towns and cities in a new “urban mobility package” adopted on 17 December 2013. The Commission will reinforce the exchange of best practice, provide targeted financial support and invest in research and development. In addition, it is encouraging the development of “sustainable urban mobility plans” to stimulate a shift towards cleaner and more sustainable transport in urban areas.

Cities are home to over 70% of the EU population and account for some 85% of the Union’s GDP. Most journeys begin and end in cities. In many urban areas, however, increasing demand for urban mobility has created a situation that is not sustainable: severe congestion, poor air quality, noise emissions and high levels of CO2 emissions. Urban congestion jeopardises EU goals for a competitive and resource-efficient transport system.

A recent Eurobarometer survey  shows that European citizens are concerned by the negative impacts of urban mobility and many of them are pessimistic about the prospects for improving mobility in their cities. A large majority consider congestion (76%), air quality (81%) and accidents (73%) to be serious problems. Less than a quarter believe that the situation will improve in the future (24%) and most believe it will stay the same (35%) or get worse (37%).

Vice-President Siim Kallas, EU commissioner for mobility and transport, said: “Addressing the problems of urban mobility is one of the great challenges in transport today. With coordinated action we can be more successful. Local authorities are the key decision makers. They are best placed to take important local decisions, but they should benefit from support at national and EU level.”

With the urban mobility package, the Commission reinforces its supporting measures in the following areas:

Sharing experience and show-casing best practices: The Commission will set up in 2014 a European platform for sustainable urban mobility plans. This platform will help cities, planning experts and stakeholders to plan for easier and greener urban mobility;

Providing targeted financial support: Through the European structural and investment funds, the EU will continue to support urban transport projects, in particular in the less-developed regions of the EU;

Research and Innovation: The Civitas 2020 initiative in the framework of Horizon 2020 will allow cities, companies, academia and other partners to develop and test novel approaches for urban mobility. The first call for proposals was published on 11 December. The estimated budget for 2014 and 2015 is €106.5 Million. Civitas 2020 is complemented by the smart cities and communities European innovation partnership (€200 million for 2014 and 2015) and activities within the European “green vehicles” initiative (€159 million for 2014 and 2015)

Involving the Member States: The Commission calls on Member States to create the right conditions for towns and cities to develop and implement their sustainable urban mobility plans

Working together: The Commission puts forward specific recommendations for coordinated action between all levels of government and between the public and the private sector in four areas:

  • urban logistics
  • urban access regulation
  • deployment of intelligent transport system (ITS) solutions,
  • urban road safety