- The EU’s priorities in the field of transport are identified on the basis of an analysis of EU policy documents, including the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy (SSMS), Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE) Strategic Plan 2020-2024 and the EU’s webpage on Transport and Mobility, and complemented with other policy documents. In total, 29 EU transport priorities are identified within the three themes of smart, sustainable, and resilient transport.
- The Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) is the centrepiece of the EU’s Recovery Plan, with an allocation of EUR 723.8 billion in non-repayable support and loans. 22 out of 27 National Recovery and Resilience Plans (NRRP) approved by the Council implementing decision were assessed in the study. The assessed NRRPs include a total RRF contribution of EUR 449.9 billion out of which EUR 291.1 billion in the form of non-repayable support and EUR 158.8 billion in the form of loans.
- The NRRPs examined contained a combined total of:
- 218 measures related to the EU’s priorities under the theme of “sustainable transport”, with the highest number of NRRPs measures related to deployment of alternative fuels in road transport.
- 68 measures related to the EU’s priorities under the theme of “smart transport” and 44% of those measures related to IT systems development.
- 98 measures related to the EU’s priorities under the theme of “resilient transport” and 75% of those measures related to transport sector governance.
- NRRPs contribute to the achievement of TEN-T policy objectives and compliance of the nine Core Network Corridors (CNCs) with TEN-T requirements. Rail will be the main beneficiary of the NRRPs, with upgrades of the existing rail infrastructure in nine Member States, the construction of new compliant rail lines in four Member States, and the European Railway Traffic Management System (ERTMS) deployment in six Member States.
- In the revision of NRRPs, higher focus could be placed on cross-border projects, modal shift to rail and waterborne transport, more and better links between governance and other measures to ensure long-term and sustainable change, and more and better use of financial instruments by supporting bankable projects and projects developed by the private sector.
NRRPs’ contribution to the achievement of EU’s policy priorities
The main objective of the study is to provide an overview of the Recovery and Resilience Fund’s contribution to the achievement of EU’s policy priorities for the smart and green transition of the transport sector. The study is divided into three tasks, firstly identifying EU’s policy priorities for sustainable, smart, and resilient transport. The next task involves an assessment of NRRPs’ impact on achieving EU transport policy priorities. The third task includes the assessment of NRRPs’ contribution to Core Network Corridor completion. Based on an analysis of EU policy documents, 29 EU priorities in the field of transport are identified, which can be divided into the themes of ‘sustainable transport’, ‘smart transport’ and ‘resilient transport’.
All approved NRRPs, 22 in total, have been analysed in this study. NRRPs’ total contribution amounts to approximately EUR 449.9 billion, of which EUR 291.2 billion, or 65%, is used as non-repayable support and EUR 158.8 billion, or 35%, in the form of loans.
The total number of measures planned for theme “sustainable transport” is 218, or 56% of all transport sector measures identified. 21 out of 22 Member States (89 measures in total) focus on the deployment of alternative fuels in road transport. However, more projects and investments should have been planned for waterborne and rail transport, to have a balanced approach to transport sector development. In addition, considering the need to reduce the impact that the transport sector has on the environment, more could have been done to increase public transport use and to make it more sustainable.
The theme “smart transport” is characterised by a high number of IT projects including software and IT infrastructure development. Smart mobility measures are mainly planned for road and rail transport and there is insufficient contribution to cross-border travel under the theme. However, only four Member States are planning projects to support data availability, access and exchange of mobility data. Thus, more projects focusing on promoting data exchange between Member States should be launched, as well as more projects under the theme of ‘smart transport’ generally, given its priority within the EU.
The theme “resilient transport” is addressed by 21 out of 22 Member States and the majority of measures (75%) are governance-related. Of all the measures, 71% relate to improved transport sector governance and are included in 19 NRRPs. The governance measures include transport master plans development, enhancing the regulatory framework, and transport sector related reforms. There are a number of transport sector priorities which are not covered by NRRPs or are covered only by a small number of projects.
NRRPs’ contribution to the achievement of TEN-T policy objectives and compliance of the Core Network Corridors (CNCs) with TEN-T requirements varies between Member States and transport mode. Member States with more mature transport sector infrastructure networks tend to focus on other priorities and are not using the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) to further develop CNCs infrastructure. Rail will be the main beneficiary of the NRRPs, with upgrades of the existing rail infrastructure to increase compliance with TEN-T requirements in nine Member States, the construction of new compliant rail lines in four Member States, and the European Railway Traffic Management System (ERTMS) deployment in six Member States.
Recommendations for policy making
Considering the EU transport sector objectives, there are several areas which are not sufficiently addressed in the Member States’ NRRPs and where further focus and investments are needed:
- The development of the transport network from the European perspective, or cross-border projects.
- There is a need to better facilitate the modal shift to rail and waterborne transport by increasing investments and, where feasible, include a cross-border component.
- Multi-modal passenger transport could be increased by contributing to the shift from private cars to public transport.
- Safety and security measures are not sufficiently addressed in the NRRPs; therefore, it is recommended to increase the number of measures in this area, especially for those Member States where road fatalities are high.
- Social aspects, such as fair, accessible and just mobility and transport sector worker conditions are not sufficiently covered; therefore, it is recommended to include social aspects as a cross-cutting priority for the different transport sector measures.
- More measures to “internalise external transport costs” would help reduce the carbon footprint.
The European database could be further developed to include information in terms of location and nature of the projects and be used to monitor the implementation of the NRRPs on the ground. The database could be used to monitor the project contribution on the achievement of EU’s policy objectives (different fields, including transport).
In addition, there are five additional areas which were not prioritised by Member States and need to receive more focus within EU policies, including:
- Improving energy efficiency within transport, including improved energy efficiency of road transport.
- Further developing the public transport system, including cross-border public transport networks, and linking this with the use of alternative fuels.
- Better facilitating the modal shift to rail and waterborne transport.
- Combining implementation measures with support for the behavioural change of citizens to more efficiently achieve transport policy objectives, for example by incentivizing the use of alternative fuels by private cars and public transport modes.