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U Council sends signal that shift to zero-emission vehicles is not a priority for commercial road transport
EU | Luxembourg

EU Council sends signal that shift to zero-emission vehicles is not a priority for commercial road transport

3 Jun 2022 · Prosperity

EU transport ministers, meeting yesterday in Luxembourg, have significantly diluted proposals on deploying alternative fuels infrastructure. 

The European Commission’s proposal on the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure (AFIR) was significantly watered down yesterday by governments of EU Member States. This is in sharp contrast with the more ambitious provisions currently being discussed by the European Parliament.

Targets to build electric recharging infrastructure for heavy-duty vehicles were revised to have infrastructure along only 15% of the Trans-European Transport (TEN-T) network by 2025, rising to 40% by 2027. In addition, the Council introduces several derogations for electric recharging infrastructure for both light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles on roads that experience lower levels of traffic where Member States can go even lower than the non-ambitious agreed targets. 

Targets for hydrogen refuelling infrastructure received a similar treatment. The compromise text removes the provision to deploy hydrogen refuelling stations on the TEN-T comprehensive network and in urban nodes. The importance of having alternative fuels infrastructure sufficiently available across the entire TEN-T network is fundamental for road transport operators to make the switch to alternative fuel technology. 

The availability of alternative fuels infrastructure is indispensable to the uptake of zero-emission heavy duty vehicles. The absence of charging and refuelling infrastructure leaves no chance for long distance operators to embrace electric and hydrogen technologies. In practice, it is expected that the EU will be divided, with a cluster of countries keeping national ambitions high and other countries showing slow or no progress in the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure. 

Raluca Marian, IRU’s Director of EU Advocacy said: “Decarbonisation of road transport requires substantial investment from businesses and states alike. The Council’s compromise shows that the majority of EU Member States are not prepared to take their share of effort. 15% targets for alternative fuels infrastructure are 0 % targets because this will result in an incomplete coverage which will not serve the purpose. Would the ministers advise transport operators to buy an electric or hydrogen vehicle for long distance transport in 2025 or 2027 with only 15% or 40% of the necessary charging infrastructure in place?

"Taking note of the Council’s message, we hope that the EU legislators will be consistent in their approach and will not rush additional energy taxation and charges on CO2 for commercial vehicles so long as governments do not enable the shift to zero-emission vehicles any time soon. We also hope that the upcoming revision of the CO2 standards for heavy duty vehicles will be synchronised with the expectations for alternative fuels infrastructure.”

Read our joint letter calling for ambitious targets. 

Read the IRU position on the AFIR.