Policy paper 234

Clean Mobility: The European Way – A Comprehensive Approach to Electric Vehicles in the Energy Transition

Millions of jobs, 2 hours a day, a third of our energy demand, and a key source of air pollution: this is what transport represents for Europeans.
After the French ‘Yellow Vests’ movement raised the question of transport affordability, and months ahead of the European elections, how can forthcoming European decision-makers deliver better, cleaner, and more socially-fair transport for all Europeans?

To realise a transition from today’s dirty mobility system to tomorrow’s clean mobility system, there is no silver bullet. A comprehensive solution can nonetheless build on several pieces of the jigsaw puzzle: better urban planning, reduction and optimisation of our mobility needs, digitalisation, new business models, shared economy, behavioural changes and electrification.

This policy paper focuses on the development of electric vehicles, where the EU needs to act swiftly, with a long-term and comprehensive vision of the energy transition. The European car industry has slowed down the development of electric vehicles in Europe. Dieselgate has eroded citizen trust in carmakers and politicians alike. Now, China and the US are leading the electric vehicle race, with Europe at risk of losing key segments of its economy and jobs.

Cities have meanwhile been playing a positive role. They now need support at national and EU level to achieve economies of scale. For instance, there are today more electric buses in the Chinese city of Shenzhen alone than throughout the European continent. EU action is also paramount to prevent further territorial inequalities between cities and rural areas, between the West and the East of the EU.

The EU has already laid the foundations to make the clean mobility transition a European success. It adopted more stringent CO2 standards for cars, launched the European Battery Alliance and better planned the roll-out of electric charging infrastructure. After the May 2019 European elections, new decision-makers will have the opportunity to build on those foundations.

This is why this policy paper, written by Emilie Magdalinski, research fellow at the Jacques Delors Institute, proposes to:

  1. elaborate a timeline for phasing out diesel and gasoline cars in Europe;
  2. accelerate the roll-out of fast charging points for electric vehicles throughout the EU and ensure that no territory is left behind;
  3. and create a Social Pact for the Energy Transition that takes into account the social dimensions of the mobility transition.

Supported by a comprehensive approach, those proposals will help Europe deliver clean mobility for all Europeans.