2021 – the year of transport policy from EU and UK

Transport Policy


Given the year we have just had, it seems a fool’s errand to try and make any predictions for the year ahead. However, steering clear of making any predictions on the substance of forthcoming policy proposals, we can say for certain that 2021 looks set to be one of the busiest years we have seen, both sides of the Channel, for transport policy.

The most intriguing element of 2021 will be the potential regulatory divergence between the EU and UK. Some fear that such divergence could potentially lead to a zero-sum game and race to the bottom – at very least that the UK will attempt to undercut the EU. However, with the new Biden Administration set to take office, both the EU and UK will be seeking to set the global agenda alongside the US on these global transport policies.

Where the EU and UK chose to focus their initial 2021 work will demonstrate where their ambitions lie. Looking ahead to the EU Commissions 2021 Work Programme, the EU Commission intended to regulate the internal combustion engine and set the future framework for the mass introduction of zero emission vehicles.

Looking at the UK Government’s recent announcements, the UK Government are more interested in going straight to zero electric transportation – primarily electric and hydrogen. The regulation of the current transport modes, and indeed those heard to reach modes such as HGV/trains and planes, do not appear to be of any great interest.

So, what does this all mean in practice. Well, the EU will set the global standard for the current transport modes – the test cycles, the emission monitoring methodologies and regulation of efficiency technologies. The new Euro 7 and VECTO regulations will likely be copied and pasted for the UK markets and UK companies should follow the EU developments closely. However, the UK will seek to play a role in setting the global framework for electric vehicles and the use of hydrogen. Clearly, the EU will see their role as setting these standards also – alongside the US – so it will be interesting to follow these developments next year and how the UK seek to optimise their COP presidency.


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December 9th, 2020 by Christopher Morris