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TRAN and ENVI committee meetings held

On 11 May, both the TRAN and ENVI committees took place. Vice President Frans Timmermans give an overview on the future of the transport sector within the Green Deal, with Commissioner Valean exchanging views on sustainable mobility after the COVID-19 crisis and CORSIA developments.

During the opening session of the TRAN committee, Vice-President Timmermans emphasised the important role of the transport sector within the Green Deal and at the same time that it was the the most affected by the COVID-19 crisis. It is the only sector that has not reduced its GHG emissions since the 1970s and will have to play a key role in achieving the EU climate objectives. Therefore, significant amounts of investment are needed to restart the sector. This means there would only be one shot at getting it right, Timmermans stated. Reverting to the old system of economy is difficult and this Parliament and Commission have a huge responsibility to use the Green Deal and digitalisation as the cornerstones of recovery. Therefore, the transport sector needs to be forward looking, has to significantly cut emissions, and use opportunities offered by digitisation to become more profitable. Timmermans also highlighted the issues around cleaner air - if we want to achieve this existential challenge of climate neutrality by 2050, goals need to be met in 2030. This would have consequences on the transport sector. While jobs need to be saved and created during the recovery phase, it is important to move towards a greener future. It was acknowledged that the current situation for airlines was dire too. The Commission will offer a framework to take the sector into the future while being in line with climate goals – there is no contradiction between  funding the Green Deal and the economic recovery.

During the ENVI committee, Commissioner Valean stated that the Commission will continue to pursue its objective of making transport smarter and cleaner despite the effects of the COVID-19 crisis, with sustainability still high on the agenda. The goal is also to ensure a swift recovery for transport. She outlined the importance of alternative fuels that would need to be taken by the industry and announced that the Commission will make a proposal by the end of the year on granting access to sustainable fuels for the sector. Regarding the aviation industry, Commissioner Vălean said that member state measures will not exempt companies from environmental obligations, in fact she outlined that the CORSIA pilot phase would start in January 2021. The ICAO Council would decide which offsetting programmes CORSIA would use. In addition, the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) directive would play a role and that CORSIA would not replace it. However, she noted that CORSIA would need to be implemented through an amendment to the ETS directive. Further, member states would need to notify ICAO if they intended to take place in the voluntary phase of CORSIA. Vălean stressed that the EU would not turn its back on CORSIA, which she argued was the only realistic option to tackle carbon emissions and member states need to be in the 'front line' of CORSIA. The Green Deal would need to be pursued in all modes of transport and that green manufacturing should be kept in Europe. She stressed that the pandemic should not delay the uptake of new environmental technologies for the automotive sector. To conclude, Commissioner Vălean pleaded for support for a MFF that funded the Green Deal and put transport high up the agenda for the recovery plan.