• UITP Europe
    strongly advocates public transport in the European Union

Policy issues

Policy issues

UITP's work in the EU is focused on 15 key policy areas covering all areas and all sustainable transport modes:

  1. Legal framework of public service contracts
  2. Regulatory framework of rail
  3. Research and innovation
  4. Transport taxation
  5. Standardisation and vehicle specification
  6. Energy and alternative fuels
  7. Social policy
  8. Environment and sustainable development
  9. Security
  10. Cohesion Policy and Structural Funds
  11. Passenger rights
  12. Public transport politics
  13. Travel information and ticketing
  14. Bus
  15. European Infrastructure Investment

 

1. Legal framework of public service contracts

Regulation 1370/2007 on public passenger transport services by rail and by road (so called PSO Regulation) sets out a framework for awarding public service contracts and compensating for public service obligations.

In the context of the Fourth Railway Package, in January 2013, the European Commission published a legislative proposal to modify Regulation 1370/07. This proposal, which could result in the establishment of competitive tendering of public service contracts for rail passenger transport as general principle, is still being discussed by the EU institutions.

For your information, interpretative Guidelines concerning Regulation 1370/07 were published in March 2014.

The implementation and development of Regulation 1370/07 is crucial to UITP's EU Committee members. The Committee therefore closely monitors and influences these decision processes.

In the context of a recently liberalised market, special attention must also be paid to the application of State aid rules to the sector. The EU Committee therefore also monitors EU developments on State aid.

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2. Regulatory framework of rail

Through its EU Committee, UITP has been recognised by the EU as a Representative Rail Association since 2005. UITP represents urban, suburban and regional rail service providers in the EU, and beyond.  These particular railway services are most often operated under public service requirements following Regulation (EC) No 1370/2007 in the EU.

Based on its extensive membership base and the focus of its members, UITP is a legitimate representative of urban, suburban and regional rail providers in regulatory and/or technical matters impacting this segment of passenger rail transport.

For this reason, UITP, and its EU Committee, are systematically consulted on rail issues raised by the European Commission, or by the European Railway Agency that are in charge of setting up the regulatory framework for rail, including specifically the “TSIs” or Technical Specifications for Interoperability, as well as the European Safety specifications. These common specifications are necessary for achieving the interoperability of the European Union railway system.

In this regard, UITP coordinates the representation of the suburban and regional rail sector in the Working Groups set up either:

  • by the European Railway Agency;
  • and/or together with the other European Rail Representative Associations, mainly UNIFE (notably in the Urban Rail Platform), CER and EIM and/or with the International Rail Association UIC (notably in the Group of Representative Bodies)
  • and/or by/with the EU Commission, and mainly its Directorate for Transport, or DG MOVE
  • and/or by/with the European Standardization Organisations (ESOs), CEN CENELEC and ETSI which coordinate their work in a joint Change Control Management Committee (CCMC). They have a joint working group with the rail sector called JPC-R (Joint Programming Committee – Rail) ;
  • and/or – when European Research and Innovation is at stake - by ERRAC, the European Rail Research Advisory Council.

Through its European Union Committee, UITP represents two significantly different rail market segments:

  • Suburban and Regional Rail: operated on ‘heavy’/conventional rail infrastructure which is potentially interoperable with other types of rail transport services (freight and/or passenger), and which has to cope with the technical and safety requirements set up by the EU rail legislation;
  • Urban Rail: consisting of tram, light rail, metro and some suburban-regional rail systems. Urban Rail describes a market generally physically and/or functionally separated from the interoperable EU railway network. Urban Rail is excluded from the interoperability and safety rail directives under revision in the 4th Railway Package. Following initiatives taken jointly by UNIFE and UITP, and their “Urban Rail Platform” created in 2007, the harmonisation of urban rail is currently driven by EC mandate M/486 and CEN-CENELEC Guide 26, and it involves specific relationship with the European Commission, other rail associations, the ESOs and ERRAC.

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3. Research and innovation

Harmonised and efficient research activities provide support to the development of both legislation and policy.

Ideally, introducing innovation in public transport has to be the result of a “push-pull” mechanism between supply industry strategies and end users’ needs (including those by competent public authorities). New great societal challenges (energy efficiency, environmental concerns, digital society needs, more efficient mobility, customer care...) are increasingly changing the research paradigm, shifting from product-oriented research to a more heuristic approach, which requires the collaboration of all stakeholders.

With UITP members representing the entire value chain of the public transport and sustainable mobility sector, UITP has a key and legitimate role to play in European applied research and innovation. UITP has the capability to actively support the successful implementation of innovations contributing to increasing both the quality and the market share of public transport whatever the mode (bus, light rail, metro, suburban and regional rail...). Through appropriate coordination and integration between all means of transport including private vehicles and soft modes, UITP thus contributes to the achievement of the PTx2 strategy. Thanks to its wide institutional network and the relationship with national public transport Associations, UITP can also efficiently link nationally-funded research activities.

The UITP Project Management Team has successfully lead or partnered a wide range of European projects for years, covering the whole spectrum of urban mobility-related issues.

Read more about UITP’s involvement in EU projects.

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4. Transport taxation

The UITP EU Committee monitors the evolution of European legislation on taxation and its impact on the public transport sector, and prepares position statements regarding this area of legislation.

Currently, the main issues UITP is following concerning taxation are the review of the existing legislation on VAT and how it applies to the transport sector, as well as energy taxation.

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5. Standardisation and vehicle specification

UITP is active in monitoring and influencing technical harmonisation and standardisation at European level in the field of public transport systems and sub-systems (infrastructure, vehicles etc., including operational issues). Activities are mostly carried out in CEN, CENELEC and ETSI technical committees and working groups (although sometimes also at international level: ISO, IEC, IEEE…), as well as through participation in European projects.

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6. Energy and alternative fuels

UITP is active in contributing to initiatives by the European institutions to promote and deploy alternative energies and fuels and reinforcing the role of public transport in reducing CO² emissions. UITP monitors developments in the field of electrification, conventional fuels, hydrogen, biofuels, CNG/LPG, etc.

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7. Social policy

Social policy has two main aspects:

  1. Advocacy: representing the interests of public transport operators in the areas of: working hours, driving hours, and driver training
  2. Social dialogue with ETF (European Transport Workers’ Federation)

UITP has worked on the following social policy projects:

  • Project on ‘Insecurity in public transport” (2002);
  • Conference on the problem of insecurity with the signing of “Joint recommendations” (2003);
  • Conference on “Quality of services - quality at the work place” (2003);
  • Joint declaration on the future Commission ‘Green paper on Urban Mobility’ (January 2007) and joint letter to the Commissioner (September 2008);
  • Quality of services in Public Transport (QSTP) project on quality services and the drivers’ workplace with joint recommendations still in preparation (2006-2008);
  • Joint conference on the implementation of the drivers’ training directive and the labour market (2010);
  • Training and women’s employment (following a joint study on this topic: ‘Women’s employment In public transport Services’ - WISE) (2014).

A study, entitled ‘Buying Social’ has also been started by the Business and Human Resources Management (BHRM) Commission in cooperation with the EU Committee, the Operating Authorities Committee and the Sustainable Development Committee.

The aim of this study is to engage in a dialogue with the European Transport Workers’ Federation on the following issue:

“How to incorporate into our calls for tenders and contracts elements whose financial value is not (always) immediately measurable, but which in economic terms would correspond to what the Community texts describe as the “Most Economically Advantageous Tender (MEAT)” or “Best VAlue for Money (BVA)”, and which, to put it another way, enable the activity in question to be considered as an investment with respect to the three (social, societal and environmental) pillars of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?”

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8. Environment and sustainable development

EU environmental law has been decisive in improving the state of the environment in Europe. On average, 80% of what becomes national environmental legislation in EU Member States originates at EU level. Sustainable development, pollutant emission policies, energy taxation, noise management, sustainable urban mobility planning and corporate responsibility reporting are increasingly impacting the European public transport sector.

Emissions, particularly from transport, are at the top of the priority list of things to improve. As an example, the European Union — through the European Smart Cities and Communities Initiative — has targeted significant emissions reductions in these areas to increase Europe’s competitiveness and achieve a significant decarbonisation of the economy through innovation. UITP’s EU Committee represents the views of the public transport undertakings of the 28 member countries and has a strong voice and influence when it comes to defending the interests of public transport within the European decision-making process in the field of the environment and sustainable development.

Current projects include:

  • EU Sustainable Development Strategy
  • European Innovation Partnerships for smart cities and communities
  • Sustainable Mobility Plans and the Urban Mobility Package
  • Climate Change Adaptation
  • 2030 framework for climate and energy policies
  • Charging of the use of road infrastructure
  • Non-financial reporting: a renewed strategy for corporate social responsibility
  • Review of the EU Air Quality Directive

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9. Security

Public transport networks are generally very safe and secure, however they are intrinsically open, accessible and crowded, and as such can be attractive targets for criminal activity. Public transport undertakings face a range of security threats to deal with, from the daily issues such as graffiti and anti-social behaviour, to the more serious threats such as terrorism.

Although crime prevention is generally the responsibility of the authorities, public transport undertakings must also take action to protect their staff, passengers and assets from crime, and the fear of crime, on public transport. Passengers who do not feel safe may choose not to travel by public transport.

Under the leadership of the Security Commission, UITP is in regular contact with the European institutions in an effort to help shape their initiatives and defend the interests of public transport undertakings on this important topic.

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10. Cohesion Policy and Structural Funds

Socio-economic cohesion has long been one of the key priorities of the European Union. Its objective is to diminish major economic and social disparities between different European regions and Member States. Implementing Cohesion Policy, the EU promotes balanced and long-term economic development, including the development of sustainable and environmentally efficient urban mobility and public transport.

In order to advance the cohesion, the Commission has created two major instruments – the Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund – which partially finance national and regional development programmes, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe. Both financial instruments make up the second largest items of the EU’s budget (€348bn for the 2007-2014 programming period) and as such are key drivers behind EU regional policy.

The Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund were designed to target new Members States from Central and Eastern Europe (EU-13). The Cohesion Fund applies to countries with a Gross National Income (GNI) of less than 90% of the EU average and puts forward cohesion priorities such as improving the overall economic attractiveness of the Member States, also by improving mobility, accessibility and transport infrastructure, investing in the knowledge economy, competitiveness and innovation as well as creating more employment and encouraging entrepreneurship.

Poland has been the largest recipient of the support from Cohesion Policy of all EU countries since 2007. In the period 2014-2020, Poland will receive around €82.5bn, out of which around 8% will be dedicated to urban, suburban and regional public transport investments. The second largest beneficiary of European funds in Central and Eastern Europe is Romania with €21.7bn, while third and fourth respectively are the Czech Republic (€20.5bn) and Hungary (€20.4bn).

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For more information on Central and Eastern European Countries see our CEEC webpage.

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11. Passenger rights

Regulation 1371/2007 on rail passenger rights entered into force on 3 December 2009. It contains a set of fundamental rights, applicable to all rail services in the EU, as well as a number of rights for which Member States may permanently exempt suburban, regional rail services. A revision of the regulation is likely to start at the end of 2016.

UITP is involved in the discussions related to passenger rights with the passenger rights unit of DG MOVE in the European Commission, as well as with the Committee on Transport and Tourism of the European Parliament. UITP also meets regularly with the European Passenger Federation to exchange views and better understand the passengers' experience. 

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12. Public transport politics

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13. Travel information and ticketing

Travel information and ticketing are key areas in the development of an attractive public transport offering. UITP presents positions and proposals on how to embrace new technologies that meet the needs of UITP members and the requirement to balance interoperability and subsidiarity. For travel information, UITP’s position is based on the pillars of open access, distributed solutions and a “bottom up” approach using local and regional sources of information. For ticketing UITP supports a coordinated approach to establish Smart Ticketing interoperability in the public transport sector and European cooperation in the Smart Ticketing Alliance.

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14. Bus

UITP monitors and influences European legislation affecting the efficient and safe operation of buses. Such legislation has been monitored, for example, in the case of the European Bus Directive, as well as in the context of the deployment of alternative fuels.

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15. European Infrastructure Investment 

On 11 September 2014, the European Commission issued the first call for projects under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), the new financing programme for the Trans-European Transport network (TEN-T). €11.93 billion was allocated for the 2014 CEF Transport Call. The Funding Objective of the 2014 call targets, among others, is implementing transport infrastructure in nodes of the Core Network, including urban nodes. Considering that a significant part of the remaining money will be transferred to the EFSI mechanism, there may be no further call. A review of the budget will be done mid 2016. UITP is in close contact with the European Commission to regularly underline, with concrete examples, the importance of urban nodes in the European transport system.  

The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, announced the "Juncker Package" in November 2014. The aim is to mobilise between €315 billion of investments over 3 years in the following way: the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Commission will commit 5 and 16 billion respectively, using already existing funds, including €2.2 billion coming from the CEF. Potentially eligible projects may include urban transport projects, provided their ability to attract private investors is proven. UITP is engaged in discussions with the EIB, which will manage the mechanism, to point out the importance of urban projects for the European economy. 

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