The development of the necessary TEN corridors must be accelerated. What continues to be an obstacle are the different systemic conditions in rail transport, which are still slowing down clearance at national borders. Here, too, harmonization must be achieved quickly.
In order to create equal opportunities here, we propose a Europe-wide CO2 tax: We call for the ecologicalisation of tax systems to be strengthened by means of a CO2 tax directive. The current directive on the taxation of energy products and electricity is outdated and inadequate. In any case, a directive on CO2 levies must contain a uniform assessment basis for emissions and minimum tax rates in order to impose a uniform burden on CO2 – irrespective of which energy source is involved. In the medium to long term, the aim is to introduce a Europe-wide CO2 tax. However, we are not opposed to the current EU emissions trading system. As a transitional solution on the way to the EU CO2 tax, emissions trading could be extended to other sectors – above all transport, heating and agriculture.
Here I refer to point 1: there is still a lack of coordination and harmonization in the rail market.
With the expansion of the rail corridors, the efficiency and also the offer of train connections will increase. The example of Spain shows that railway lines have become much more attractive after expansion compared with domestic flights.
The Court of Audit report shows the major difficulties encountered in the planning and construction of complex infrastructure projects: Handling by the states is very different, planning and procedures are lengthy. The different speeds in expansion lead to a patchwork. Here it is difficult to intervene in subsidiarity. We recommend a clearer prioritization of the planned axes in order to close the biggest gaps quickly.
In the area of passenger rights, EU-wide negotiations are taking place on an ongoing basis in order to find clear rules, particularly in the area of cross-border travel. We support this and see a need for harmonization and simplification.
Our proposal for a Europe-wide CO2 tax would solve precisely these distortions. We will not advocate a ban on short-haul flights, but as the example of Spain cited above shows, efficient train connections can largely replace them because of their attractiveness.