European Commission proposes that urban areas of more than 100.000 inhabitants (500 in EU-25) implement sustainable urban transport plans

By News Editor / Updated: 01 Aug 2014
Sustainable urban transport is one of the priority themes of the new Communication Towards a Thematic Strategy on the Urban Environment.
The Sixth Environment Action Programme identifies Thematic Strategies as a new way of tackling environmental issues and calls for the development of seven such strategies, on the urban environment, the marine environment, air, soil, pesticides, natural resources and waste.

Many of the problems facing Europes towns and cities, such as meeting demanding European air quality standards or urban sprawl, are common ones and there are clear opportunities at the European level to develop, share and facilitate the implementation of appropriate solutions, while recognising that towns and cities are each different and need to apply the solutions that are most appropriate for their local conditions.

The approach outlined in the Commissions [ Communication Towards a Thematic Strategy on the Urban Environment] is to develop a strong framework at the European level to provide this coordinated approach and more systematic support to towns and cities in their efforts to improve their environment, recognising their role as key actors closest to the problems. The goal is to make the good practice used in some Member States, regions and cities become the day to day norm across Europe.

The overall aim is to improve the environmental performance and quality of urban areas and to secure a healthy living environment for Europe's urban citizens, reinforcing the environmental contribution to sustainable urban development while taking into account the related economic and social issues, and the Communication focuses on sustainable urban management and urban transport, as well as sustainable construction and design. These are areas where the potential benefits to the environment are highest and where significant progress can be made in most towns and cities. The Communication is the fruit of extensive consultations with towns and cities, NGOs, business, the academic community and Member States over the last two years.

According to the Commission, apart from the development and implementation of environment management plan, towns and cities of more than 100.000 inhabitants (500 in EU-25) should develop and implement sustainable urban transport plan in order to reduce the environmental impacts of urban transport and help cities meet their air quality targets. The plan would be linked with the city's overall plans and objectives for environmental, economic and social development. The choice of actions and targets is left to local decision makers since they best know the local situation.

The Commission calls on Member States and regional bodies to adopt strategies for improving the urban environment to provide support to local authorities when they prepare their own plans. This would provide a coherent policy framework and help deliver environmental improvements and meet environmental obligations. Such strategies need to be linked to national sustainable development plans. National or regional Focal Points for the Urban Environment would promote best practice and support towns and cities.

The approach also develops recommendations, guidelines, indicators, data, standards, evaluation techniques, training and other actions of a more technical nature to help towns and cities manage their environment.

There will be extensive consultations on this approach during 2004, including an open internet consultation (lasting from today until 1 April 2004), discussions with the EU institutions, the EU Expert Group on the Urban Environment and different stakeholder groups, and more detailed discussions in working groups. The final Thematic Strategy will be proposed by mid-2005.

More information available on [ DG Environment website]

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