Inconsistency of policies and regulations

European Union policies are often regarded as among the most progressive from a global perspective. However, when the overall principles are translated to national or local level, more and more inconsistencies arise.

For example, the EU’s Transport White Paper calls for the internalisation of external costs. However, at local and national level, very little progress has been made in this respect. For example, cheap oil prices could have provided an excellent opportunity to phase in increased charges to cover the external costs of private motorised transport. This has unfortunately not happened, thus increasing the competitive disadvantage of public transport even further.

Another example is financial support for private mobility. Too many tax and regulatory benefits are still being given in relation to company cars. By comparison, cafeteria schemes to encourage the use of public transport are more limited, while commuting on foot or by bicycle usually receives no financial support at all. From a social, economic, health and environmental point of view, the priority order should be precisely the opposite.