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Urban access restrictions: The way ahead or the wrong response for urban mobility?

Brussels, 30 January 2019 – Stakeholders and decision-makers taking part in the FMS breakfast event on Urban Vehicle Access Restrictions discussed the key issues at stake and debated the future of such schemes in Europe. The event was kindly hosted by MEP Ulrike Müller at the European Parliament.

The breakfast debate took place under the backdrop of an ever-increasing number of European cities introducing urban access restriction schemes. Such policies are developed by local and regional authorities aiming at reducing traffic congestion or improving air quality. However, many argue that such measures implemented across the EU have created a series of challenges for local authorities, businesses and users.

Ivo Cré, Director of Policy and Projects at Polis, gave the keynote speech introducing the reasons to implement UVARs and the various forms in which UVARs can be implemented. He also emphasised the benefits of a soft policy approach and concluded by encouraging cooperation and communication between authorities and vehicle users.

A panel debate followed including involvement of Jens Müller from Transport & Environment, Raluca Marian speaking on behalf of the International Road Union, Johannes Fischer from the Ministry of Transport at the Representation of the State of Baden-Württemberg to the EU and Mike Pinckaers from ANWB. The speakers agreed that it is crucial to provide citizens with correct and complete information on future regulation before such regulation is enforced. The panellists expressed contrasting views on whether cities overall already possess the technology and infrastructure necessary to implement UVARs, while it was generally agreed upon the preference of incentives over bans. Finally, it was mentioned that cities are responsible for the enforcement of UVAR, but there is a strong need for national regulation and a proper framework to support them.

In her concluding remarks, Isabelle Vandoorne announced that UVARs are a focus topic of the evaluation of the Urban Mobility Package. Additionally, the Commission is also drafting non-binding Guidelines to better coordinate the policies, especially the need for further information and transparency about UVARs.

The breakfast debate attracted the participation of MEPs, Commission officials, regional authority representatives, actors from the industry and civil society organisations.

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