Insights into the Urban Transport Community's first High-level Workshop in Brussels

The Urban Transports Community gathered on 11 May 2022 in Brussels for the first High-level Workshop of the initiative with the support of Ignazio Corrao, Member of the European Parliament (Greens/EFA) and alternate member of the TRAN Committee, and the participation of the Mayor of Durrës Emiriana Sako.

The first high-level workshop was focused on sustainable mobility solutions for a greener & better experience living and visiting the Mediterranean. It gathered 40 participants from European institutions and organisations, as well as Mediterranean-centred entities. Some of these biggest upcoming challenges awaiting European Cities in the months and years to come like the Green Deal and the Cities Mission were discussed. It was the occasion to discuss the main challenges that the Mediterranean faces in terms of mobility, all the more for cities that are dependant on the third sector - and in particular tourism. COVID-19 impacted them and adaption is needed both in terms of policies and in terms of resilient and sustainable urban mobility systems. Mediterranean cities and tourist destinations have the potential to provide best practices on how to build an active mobility in the urban space for all - pedestrians, cyclists and other individuals who may not want to use private cars.

The Commission's EU Urban Mobility Framework aimed at bringing mobility management plans forward by including them in official national and European policies was presented. These policies, combined with TEN-T, SUMPs and the brand new Horizon Europe funding Programme, shape the path for sustainable multimodality and inclusion. This had to be combined with the prioritisation of active mobility and cycling through the Vision 2030, which would increase cycling by 50% by 2030 through stronger political support and public investment in 1000 km of additional cycling infrastructure.

The high-level workshop was the perfect opportunity to present two important publications from the UTC:

The first UTC Policy Brief "Promoting soft mobility in the Mediterranean: towards more sustainable mobility systems". Building upon experience gained through the implementation of projects related to soft mobility in Albania, Croatia, Greece, Spain and Italy, the brief highlights how such promotion requires the implementation of suitable interconnected policies at the EU, national, regional, and local levels, and puts forward policy recommendations for public authorities and stakeholders. Above all, the brief suggests a need for local and regional authorities to foster collaboration among municipalities, adopt bottom-up design, involve local stakeholders, prompt user and non-user acceptability, encourage multimodality, and assess, measure, and ensure enforcement and surveillance. At the national and EU level, it highlights the need to regulate and provide technical specifications, coordinate, and facilitate the implementation of soft mobility schemes, as well as provide financial support and train users and non-users and personnel.

The second UTC Policy Brief on "tourism and mobility in the Mediterranean". As tourism represents 10% of the EU‘s gross domestic product and provides 26 million jobs in the region, this topic is of particular interest not only for Mediterranean cities, but also for Europe overall. As per the policy brief, tourism and mobility are interdependent phenomena; indeed, tourists use public transport and urban facilities, and mobility caters to them, particularly in tourist destinations. Therefore, they need to match their strategies and programmes to pursue an integrated common agenda. The second Urban Transport Community Policy Brief sets the basis for building this common agenda by identifying the main trends, challenges and goals regarding tourism mobility in Euro-Mediterranean regions and urban areas. In particular, it highlights the importance of promoting the competitiveness of Mediterranean destinations not only in terms of prices, but also - and mostly - on quality and respect for the environment.