At a recent press conference, Executive Vice President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, announced that cycling can be funded as part of new mobility money released by the EU, alongside other measures like electric car charging and public transport.
The Urban Mobility package is expected to deliver around €20 billion to Member States through EU regional funds to support challenges linked to air pollution, climate change and citizens’ well-being.
The announcement follows the proposal to the EU Commission of a €13 billion cycling package for infrastructure and e-Bike access by six associations (CIE, CONEBI, ECF, ECLF, IMBA EU and EMBA) which has been matched by public and private lobbying activity in Brussels.
Timmermans is one of the most senior political figures within the EU and is the leader of the whole Green Deal process within the Commission, which makes this an important commitment and announcement according to Cycling Industries Europe CEO, Kevin Mayne.
“The first point is the level at which the announcement was made, this was at the absolute core of EU policy making which is a real first for cycling,” he said. “Secondly, it was the clarity of the endorsement, cycling is alongside the other modes as a core responsibility of the EU, not hidden in local transport policy. This is a big breakthrough for the cycling sector.”
Joint CEOs of the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF), Jill Warren and Morten Kabell, added: “This is something to celebrate as we go into World Bicycle Day on June 3rd. We will now use the opportunity to press for more concrete measures for cycling in the EU recovery proposals and to work with our member organisations to make sure member states are ready to spend the allocated funds on cycling improvements and incentives that achieve our goals of more and better cycling for all in Europe.”
Providing background to Timmermans’ statement, the European Commission unveiled its plan to create an EU-wide recovery fund in the aftermath of the Covid-19 outbreak, putting the European Green Deal at its heart.
Manuel Marsilio, Confederation of the European Bicycle Industries (CONEBI) General Manager, said: “We have started to bridge the gap between cycling and other modes in the EU agenda. Thus high-level endorsement is needed for the EU to fund local authorities and national governments with regard to cycling infrastructures, VAT reductions, purchase bonuses for bicycles and e-Bikes and cycling in smart and connected urban mobility developments.”
These announcements are yet to become plans and budgets which can be distributed through the EU, with cycling association representatives positive that the sector should be able to compete for a fair share of the billions of euros in the recovery plan.