EU discusses clean transport
On 11 March 2013, the Council held an exchange of views on the Commission's "Clean power for transport" initiative. The objective is to break the dependence on fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport. This should be achieved by accelerating the market uptake of alternative fuels and vehicles adapted to their use.
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Leo Varadkar, Ireland's Transport Minister who chaired the meeting, described the Commission's proposal as "visionary. We all want to reduce our dependence on oil and imported oil in particular, and most member states recognise that the best response to climate change is one that embraces new technology."
It is crucial for consumer acceptance and for further development of the technology by the industry that a minimum of infrastructure for alternative fuels - electricity, hydrogen and natural gas - is available throughout the EU. Currently, development is held back for two main reasons: high vehicle prices and the lack of refuelling or recharging stations.
The Commission proposes a directive which includes targets for each member state's development of infrastructure, such as a minimum number of recharging points for electric vehicles and refuelling points for natural gas and hydrogen. The proposal also sets out requirements for common EU-wide technical standards, including a common standard plug for electric vehicles.
Member states welcomed the general objective of the proposal, but have voiced concerns about the financing of the measures and about targets and deadlines. In addition, some delegations considered that specific regional conditions must be taken into account. There were also questions about standards and technology which are still evolving.