EU transport policy helps keep the European economy moving by developing a modern infrastructure network that makes transport and travel faster and safer, while promoting sustainable and digital solutions.
To promote trade, economic growth and employment, Europe needs efficient transport links. Transport is a major contributor to the EU economy: Transport services alone generated around EUR 664 billion in gross value added (contribution to the economy) in 2016 and employed around 11 million people.
In EU transport policy, the creation of a single European transport area with fair conditions for competition between the various modes of transport is a top priority.
What the European Union is doing
Over the past 20 years, the EU has brought about significant progress in the European transport sector: greater safety in air, sea and road transport, decent working conditions for transport workers, greater choice of cheaper transport for travelers and businesses, and rapid progress towards cleaner transport and digital mobility solutions.
Transport infrastructure in the EU is funded through the Connecting Europe Facility, which has a budget of more than €24 billion. The aim is to connect the continent from east to west and north to south and close the gaps between national transport networks. It also aims to reduce obstacles to the smooth functioning of the internal market and remove technical barriers, such as incompatible standards in rail transport. The EU supports research and innovation and the effective introduction of new, environmentally friendly transport technologies, for example through new regulations to promote clean vehicle technologies. The EU is also accompanying the transition to connected and automated driving.
The internal transport market is crucial for the entire EU economy. With the creation of a single aviation market and the progress made in the Single European Sky initiative, flying is becoming easier and cheaper. Any licensed rail operator can now offer its services anywhere in the EU, benefiting both competition and connectivity. In addition, the opening of the maritime transport market ensures that shipping companies can expand their operations to more countries. Thanks to the single market, transport companies can also offer their services abroad, thus avoiding empty runs.
Safety always comes first. The number of fatalities on European roads fell by half between 1992 and 2010. Despite this progress, 25,300 people were still killed in road accidents in 2017. For this reason, the EU is actively working to improve road safety. Unsafe airlines are banned from operating in Europe, and the EU has tightened maritime safety rules. EU transport policy also supports and protects people on their journeys in other ways. Travelers in the EU have rights in the event of delays or cancellations that apply to all modes of transport: Planes, trains, ships and buses.