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Belgium occupies a prominent position in Europe in the field of transport and mobility. This is the case for road and rail transport, as well as for shipping and aviation. After all, Belgium is centrally located in Europe and is known as an important transit country and logistics hub for the European economy. This status is confirmed by the dense infrastructure network and the fact that the second-largest port in Europe is located in Belgium.
In the European context, recent years have seen increasing efforts to make the transport sector more sustainable – with the European Green Deal, for example. The EU's ambition is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030, in order to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. The transport sector is responsible for over a quarter of the Union's emissions. One of the objectives of the European Green Deal is therefore to reduce emissions from transport by 90% by 2050.
To achieve the 2030 and 2050 goals, the EU's Fit for 55 Package sets the scene for revising and updating the European legal framework. The transport sector constitutes one of the central pillars in this regard. The package proposes, for example, extending the existing Emissions Trading Scheme to maritime transport, creating a similar separate scheme for road transport, drastically reducing CO2 emission standards for cars and vans and abolishing outdated tax exemptions for the use of fossil fuels in the aviation and maritime sectors.
These proposals build upon the strategy for sustainable and smart mobility, which sets out the direction that European transport policy will take in the coming years. More specifically, it includes 82 practical initiatives aiming at the greening of fleets and infrastructure; increasing the use of alternative, sustainable modes of transport; innovation and digitalisation of the transport system; a reinforced trans-European transport network; as well as safety, affordability and accessibility.
Transport safety is also high on the European agenda. In the road transport sector, the EU is currently revising legislations on driving licences and cross-border enforcement of traffic rules. In the maritime sector, Belgium is also monitoring work on ship inspections and controls, maritime pollution, accident investigations, and the refinement of the European Maritime Safety Agency's mandate.
Objectives for Belgium
The greening of the transport sector implies that there will be more and more interfaces with other aspects, such as energy and environment, as well as finance and digitalisation. This cross-cutting character increases the importance of proper coordination, at both a European and a Belgian level. At an intra-Belgian level, the Directorate-General for European Affairs and Coordination (DGE) is responsible for coordinating the position Belgium will adopt at the Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council (TTE) and for specific transport cases.
Belgium endorses the European ambition to become climate neutral by 2050. As regards the Green Deal, Belgium shares the existing broad consensus on the sustainable transformation of our society and economy and with regard to the notion that the Green Deal could present many opportunities and positive changes, including in the transport sector.
The ambitious and comprehensive strategy for smart and sustainable mobility can therefore count on the support of Belgium. Our country notes the importance of a transition to alternative and more sustainable modes of transport, including freight transport by rail, along with “micromobility”, such as bicycles and pedelecs. Belgium is also drawing attention to the role of ports as important combined transport hubs.