We all remember the adventures of Euro-Clooney and other assorted metrosexual Europeans in the “Innovation Union”. The good people at DG Communication have decided to top that with this video which I am almost at a loss to qualify. I can only suppose that this is what a competent video producer imagines to be a bureaucrat’s wet dream. Watch for yourself.
Our frustrated Europeans are stuck in traffic, face flight delays or have to deal with late arrivals of cargo. But never fear, the Eurocracy is here! It has helpfully produced a White Paper on Transport whose endless pages fly out of the window – our Europeans gazing at the flocks of paperwork with joy and wonder – before magically turning into futuristic trains, airports and cars. And so, our Europeans were saved from wasting time due to congestion and delays. And everyone was happy. The end.
Well, if Commission officials have that kind of power and effectiveness, their job satisfaction must be off the scales.
The reason for this little indulgence in unadulterated fantasy is the recent publication of the Commission’s White Paper on Transport. Pleasantly short at 30 pages, it is your typical, run-of-the-mill, lowest common denominator non-paper, a flaccid compromise between the various conflicting and/or status quo business and governmental interests.
While it has some misleading headline-grabbing points, including a goal for no conventionally-fuelled cars in cities by 2050 (e.g. only electric, natural gas and hybrids), it is painfully thin on commitments. A very ambitious target to reduce carbon emissions in transport is quietly pushed as far into the future as possible, that is a 60% reduction by 2050 compared to 1990. Meanwhile no reduction relative to 1990 is projected even up to 2030! Environmental NGOs predictably panned the document.
The European Commission is not the Soviet Gosplan. It can’t dictate what people should do or create anything with a snap of its fingers. It can coordinate, legislate, encourage but for the most part this means just producing lots of paper and wind (hence the unselfconsciously ironic hilariousness of the video).
Ultimately the Commission, in and of itself, cannot make these things a reality and it shouldn’t pretend to. It leads to confused responsibility. The EU has a limited budget, a few tens of billions of Euros legitimately going to transport, but not much else. It is ultimately business, national governments and even regional authorities which might be able to set us on the right track (and if things go to hell in transport, we should mostly blame them). I would wish the EU could be more understated.
PS: And thanks to one particularly helpful comment on YouTube I now know what the Venus Project is.