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European Transport Policy – A Historical and Forward Looking Perspective

GPS, Vol. 2 No. 4, (2002)

This article discusses the development of European transport policy in historical perspective and the challenges this faces at present. European transport policy took some time to emerge and progress has been slow and with hold-ups due to the long process of approximation of national transport policies and the resulting institutional reforms. The development of European transport policy shows clear phases. Following a rather protracted phase of intense exchange of views with little policy output, during the eighties the common market began to be implemented in transport as well and liberalisation became the overarching goal. The liberal market approach remains today the core idea of European transport policy and it is on this basis that solutions are sought to the pressing problems of congestion and environmental pollution. However the first doubts regarding this approach are also beginning to be voiced, not least by the Commission itself. While it is unlikely that the liberal market approach to transport ceases to be crucial, this contribution ventures the proposition that successfully coping with the problems of congestion and pollution will bring about a paradigm shift towards the re-definition and, in part, re-assertion of the role of the state in transport policy.

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