2nd December 2013 – The European Commission has welcomed the vote of the European Parliament’s Transport Committee on measures to build-up alternative fuel stations across Europe to break the oil dependency of transport. Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, in charge of transport, said: “I am very pleased with the positive vote. It strengthens our proposal, especially as regards the minimum infrastructure coverage, information for consumers and innovation aspects. I am confident that ambitious measures will be adopted soon for the benefit of EU citizens and industry”.
In January 2013, the European Commission proposed a Directive to ensure the roll-out of alternative fuels stations across the EU, with common standards to ensure EU wide mobility. The proposal aims at solving a “chicken and egg” problem: refuelling stations for alternative fuels are not built because there are not enough vehicles while consumers do not buy the vehicles because there are no stations. Hence the proposal foresees a minimum coverage of refuelling infrastructure for Electricity, Hydrogen and Natural Gas for road and sea transport, and their corresponding standards.
Today’s vote overall supports and strengthens the initial Commission proposal in the following key areas:
- It requests Member States to set national targets that are at least in line with the minimum requirements set by the Commission;
- It adds to the content of the national policy framework that each Member State must develop with amongst others provisions related to the reduction of urban congestion and the deployment of electrified public transport;
- It introduces provisions for the use of electricity at airports and for the recharging of electric vehicles during off-peak times when consumption and prices are lower;
- It supports the Commission’s provisions regarding standards while introducing the notion of wireless recharging technologies;
- It strengthens the provisions related to information to consumers through an easily comparable indication of the prices of fuels offered and the harmonisation of the colour of hoses and nozzles;
- It confirms the possibility to implement the Directive in a cost-neutral way, but also details the financial means available at EU level.
There are a few points however for which the Parliament is less ambitious, and which the Commission deplores:
For LNG in the maritime and inland-waterways sectors, the requirements are less stringent than original proposed by the Commission. This could lead to market fragmentation, continue the “chicken and egg” spiral of lack of demand because of lack of infrastructure and put at risk Member States’ chances of meeting the requirements on sulphur content of marine fuels.
For recharging points not accessible to the public, where most people will charge their electric cars, the lack of clear national targets could hinder the market development of electric vehicles by reducing the confidence of consumers.
The Council is expected to adopt a General Approach at the Transport Council on 5 December. A first reading agreement could be found before the end of this Parliament.
Source: European Commission press release, 26/11/2013