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Mobility in geographically and demographically challenged regions

The Committee of the Region (CoR) wants to draw the European Commission’s attention on a better mobility for all, including the remote regions. Gordon Keymer, from the CoR, is going to meet the EC at the beginning of May and will publish a report in July, collecting Good Practices, an overview of the EU funding possibilities and some suggestions of actions to be taken at EU level.

To prepare this meeting with the EC, Gordon Keymer organized a public hearing in Brussels on 15th April 2014, to collect the feedback of European stakeholders, who are dealing with mobility.

According to the CoR, mobility, the ability to move easily from one location to another, is the prerequisite for regional economic growth and territorial cohesion. It is vital for the internal market and for the quality of life of individuals. However, a growing number of regions face increasing difficulties when providing transport locally. Challenges include tighter public finance, rising consumer expectations and demographic change: depopulation and an ageing population.

Under the articles 174 and 349 of TFEU (Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union), five types of territories required “particular attention”: border region, mountainous regions, islands regions, sparsely populated regions and outermost regions. But regarding mobility, are there some specific efforts done for these regions? Can we do better?

Four key questions were discussed during this public hearing. Euromontana took this opportunity to present the mobility problems in mountains and to share the results found during the Move on Green project.

1. Do the EU policies linked to transport reflect this special attention to these regions?

There is a potential disconnection between the Treaty and the practices when delivering and implementing transport programmes. Most of the funding remains for the core networks, without paying attention to outermost regions. The handicaps in the regions are not sufficiently taken into account and mountains areas still often suffer from peripherally. Particular attention is often done on urban areas and the same kind of attention would be great also for rural areas.

2. What measures should be taken to improve mobility in such regions?

Two main points were discussed:
Adapted indicators: ESPON indicators are not always adapted to take into account the reality and the diversity of the mobility issues in these regions, so they could still be improved. The regional approach (NUTS 2 level) is not always the best one to understand all the particularities at local level.
Access to information: it is really important to know what has been done in other regions in order to be able to transfer good practices in different areas. Euromontana presented the 9 clusters of Good Practices, with the 51 concrete examples collected during the Move on Green project, as a good practical tool to have concrete mobility practices, easily transferrable in other rural and mountain regions.

3. What can be done to improve mobility in urban-rural partnership and to have a more holistic, multi-modal and coordinated approach?

Euromontana insisted on the importance to encourage collaboration between the different Authorities in charge of transport in order to develop coordinated offers, and to avoid overlaps or gaps. Develop common ticketing, intermodality, coherent timetables between the different transport systems require a good and strong cooperation between the different authorities in charge of transport.

4. How to develop a strong political message around mobility in geographically and demographically challenged regions?

The CoR may call for an EU initiative on this matter. In order to develop a stronger political message, the different European stakeholders listed the different initiatives that could be taken:
– form an intergroup at the European Parliament,
– include this mobility question in the 6° cohesion report,
– raise awareness about mobility in rural and mountain regions thanks to specific event like the Mobility Week in September every year or thanks to an EC Communication,
– develop a legislative initiative.

Euromontana welcomes the CoR initiative to address mobility in geographically and demographically challenged regions. Euromontana is currently working on Move on Green policy guidelines that will be published in September: this document will be another food for thought to improve sustainable mobility in rural and mountain areas.

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18 April 2014

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