M. Skuodis at the informal council of ministers: suggestions to abandon internal combustion engines still lack arguments and preparation


2021 09 23

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Minister of Transport and Communications Marius Skuodis says that it is important to include a branch line to Klaipėda in the plans of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), which encompasses the Rail Baltica Project, and all considerations regarding prohibition of vehicles powered by traditional internal combustion engines should be based on strong arguments and facts rather than political statements. This is what the Lithuanian Minister declared at the informal council of ministers of transport of the European Union (EU), which took place in the city of Brdo in Slovenia.

“The proposal of the European Commission to ban sales of vehicles powered by internal combustion engines as of 2035 should be based on clear facts. By that time, a uniform charging and alternative fuel filling infrastructure must be implemented in the whole EU. There is also no response as to whether we will have enough renewable energy capacities so as not to have to charge our electric vehicles using, for instance, electricity from coal-fired power stations. It is no less important to properly assess the purchasing power and starting position in each country and the impact of such decisions for the workplaces in the EU and competitiveness. There is still an absence of such complex discussions,” said M. Skuodis at the meeting of the informal council of ministers of transport.

According to the Minister, the future transport system must be in accordance with the principles of sustainability. In pursuance of the objectives of the Green Deal, it is important to strengthen the incentive measures: to invest in infrastructure, increase the quality of public transport, improve the conditions for transport powered by electricity and alternative fuels. By the end of 2024, the number of public and semi-public charging points for electric vehicles in Lithuania should increase by 11 times, and by 2027 – 15 times.

According to the European Green Deal, by 2050, Europe should reach a carbon-neutral economy. It is planned that average CO2 emissions of new cars will come down by 55 % from 2030 and 100 % from 2035 compared to 2021 levels.

The council also discussed the implementation and further development of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), which encompasses the strategic projects Via Baltica and Rail Baltica. According to Minister Skuodis, the proposal for a revised TEN-T Regulation, which is expected this December, would increase the overall efficiency of the transport system as well as contribute to the implementation of the EU Green Deal and the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy. In order to ensure mutual economic and strategic integration of the EU countries, the Regulation provides that the main priority in the area of rail transport is to complete the ongoing projects and continue expanding the European gauge railway network, especially in the EU regions, where railway infrastructure of a different standard is used.

As the EU countries aim to create an efficient and competitive railway network in the whole EU – a European Railway Area, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia are implementing a transport infrastructure project of strategic importance in the Baltic Region – Rail Baltica. Therefore, securing the necessary funding and its timely implementation – by 2026 – is a common objective of the EU. According to M. Skuodis, construction of a European gauge high-speed railway line from Kaunas to Klaipėda, which would be fully electrified and eco-friendly, should also be considered.

While speaking at the council, M. Skuodis also noted that the actions the EU has taken to meet the objective of zero-emission mobility quickly, lack consistency. According to the data of the assessment carried out by the European Commission this year, certain provisions of the Mobility Package regulating the activities of carriers, e.g., the obligation to return trucks to their place of registration, would not only harm the internal market, but also increase pollution.

The informal council of ministers of transport and energy took place in Slovenia on 21–23 September.