By the decision of the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union, 2021 was proclaimed the European Year of Railways. The EU therefore underlines the importance of promoting rail as a sustainable, innovative, intermodal, safe and affordable transport.
The EU Commission Communication of 11 December 2019 entitled "The European Green Deal" presents a new strategy for growth with the aim of transforming the Union into a fair and prosperous society, living in a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy. The strategy aims to decouple economic growth from the use of natural resources and to achieve climate neutrality, i.e. net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
In line with the objectives set out in the Communication, there is a need to transform the EU economy and rethink policies, in particular in the fields of transport and mobility. Transport is responsible for a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions in the Union and this share continues to grow. The path to sustainable intermodal transport requires putting users first and offering them cheaper, accessible, healthier, cleaner and more energy-efficient options than they are currently using, while offering incentives for those already using sustainable modes of transport such as walking , cycling and public transport.
That is why the European Parliament and the Council of the EU have declared 2021 the European Year of Railways. Rail transport is one of the most ecological and energy-saving modes of transport. It is largely electrified, emits much less CO2 than road or air transport and uses more and more renewable energy sources. In addition, 2021 will be important for EU rail policy as it will be the first full year in which the rules agreed under the Fourth Railway Package will be implemented across the Union, namely rules on opening the market for domestic rail passenger services, reducing costs and administrative burden on railway undertakings EU-wide and the delegation of additional tasks to the European Union Agency for Railways (ERA) to reduce technical barriers.