EU cities are not showing a clear indication to shift the urban traffic to more sustainable modes of transport, a new report of European Court of Auditors (ECA) says, which underlines that there has been no significant reduction in private car usage, and air pollution in many cities still exceeds safety levels.
Following the evaluation, the auditors warn that the cities without a robust sustainable urban mobility plan should no longer receive EU funding. The report calls on the European Commission to require MS to provide better data on urban mobility in their main cities and to report regularly on progress.
Starting 2019, the EC issued specific recommendations to the Member States on urban mobility as part of the European Semester process. The auditors say that these recommendations need to be followed up in respect of the way that EU and national funding is used.
“Substantial improvements in making mobility in our cities more sustainable may need more time but are not possible without Member States’ commitment. All stakeholders at EU, national, regional and city level should work together to achieve this goal. The brand new European Green Deal highlights how important it is to make the overdue step-change in our cities,” said Iliana Ivanova, the ECA Member responsible for the report.
Under the 2014-2020 MFF, for sustainable transport the EU financial support has been increased by 50%, mainly through the European Structural and Investment Funds and the Connecting Europe Facility, which was one of the commitments of the 2013 Urban Mobility Package. The ESI funds increased from EUR 11.2 billion, in the previously MFF, to EUR 16.3 billion in the currently MFF.
Shifting to environmentally friendly transport requires an efficient and integrated public transport network, providing different options.
Since 2013, when the EC launched the guidelines on tackling urban mobility challenges and started to provide increased funding for sustainable transport, the cities have implemented a range of initiatives and activities to improve the quality of the public transport system. But, according to the report, EU-funded projects were not always based on sound urban mobility strategies and were not as effective as intended. The auditors also found that projects were often delayed, and projected passenger numbers were not reached.
The ECA report analyses the public transport, pollution and congestion in eight metropolitan centres in four Member States: Hamburg and Leipzig in Germany, Naples and Palermo in Italy, Łódź and Warsaw in Poland, and Barcelona and Madrid in Spain.