ETRA lobbies the European institutions for the benefit of cycling.
What ETRA is doing/will do:
Lobby the European institutions for a cycling-friendly European Urban Transport Policy (cfr. point 1)
Lobby for the inclusion of the bicycle sector in all European policies aimed at greening the economy
Lobby for better European legislation for electric bicycles
Lobby for the inclusion of electric bicycles in all European policies aimed at promoting clean and energy-efficient vehicles
Lobby for a general reduction of VAT on all bicycle products and services (cfr. point 2)
Lobby for the establishment of an Intergroup “Cycling” (cfr. point 3)
Monitor road safety and continue to lobby for measures that may have a considerable
effect on cyclists’ safety (cfr. point 4)
Monitor the development of European bicycle standards (cfr. point 4)
Forge new alliances with a view to promoting cycling as a healthy physical activity in the
EU Platform on diet, physical activity and health (cfr. point 5)
What ETRA can do with additional support:
Screen the European funding programmes in order to inform the cycling community and allow them to make optimum use of the available funding (cfr. point 8)
Set up a partnership with the Institute for Environment and Sustainability with a view to
developing and gathering research that can contribute to substantiate the argumentation
for cycling in lobby work (cfr. point 6)
Set up a partnership with the European Environment Agency with a view to collecting
cycling data and information for substantiating the lobby work (cfr. point 6)
Propose actions for the promotion of cycling in the framework of the EU Health
Programme 2008-2013 (cfr. point 5)
Lobby for cycling to be taken into account in the internalisation of external costs
(cfr. point 1)
Follow up on the European Commission’s “Agenda for a sustainable and competitive
European tourism” for the benefit of cycling (cfr. point 7)
Lobby for a European ban on the sales of bicycles in boxes (cfr. point 4)
1. European Urban Transport Policy
Until recently, the European Union has left urban transport policy to the national, regional and local governments on the basis of the subsidiarity principle 
. However, with 80% of European citizens living in urban areas, and close to 80% of the EU’s GDP generated in towns and cities, urban transport has a major effect on environment, public health, quality of life, … in the European Union. As a result, the European authorities could no longer keep aloof from this issue. They needed to develop a policy that offers European-wide solutions. The European Commission took a first step in September 2007 with the publication of the Green Paper on Urban Transport 
From the start, ETRA has been closely monitoring this legislative process. We have also actively participated in the consultation process. The objective of our lobby work is to convince the European authorities to adopt an approach that significantly reduces the levels of private motorised transport in urban areas and that increases the proportion of journeys made by bicycle.
Cycling must be at the heart of the future European urban transport policy. Therefore, ETRA has presented the Commission with 3 essential demands:
1. a cycling officer who monitors EU policies and drives or assists member states
2. harmonised data collection on cycling with a view to producing useful statistics
3. a serious review of financial resources for the benefit of cycling
The European Commission has published an Action Programme containing concrete measures to establish a European urban transport policy. ETRA finds the cycling-friendliness of this programme very disappointing and will further lobby the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Council for much more attention for cycling.
The European Union is currently investigating how to calculate and what to do with costs resulting from transport, which are not paid for by the road user (internalisation of external costs). The Commission has to present a model for the assessment of all external costs to serve as the basis for future calculations of infrastructure charges. This model should be accompanied by an impact analysis of the internalisation of external costs for all modes of transport and a strategy for a stepwise implementation of the model for all modes of transport.
So far however, it appears that cycling is not taken into account in the development of the above-mentioned model “because the external costs caused by cycling are negligible”. As a result, should the Commission decide to legislate on how the additional revenues must be earmarked, there is fair chance that cycling will be overlooked since it is not included in the model as a mode
2. Taxation policy
Whereas millions of European citizens are driving cars, which they have obtained for free, as an extra-legal benefit, the majority of commuting cyclists have to pay for their bikes. They also have to pay the standard VAT-rate on that bike, with a minimum of 15% and a maximum of 25% of the buying price. This taxation policy goes totally against other EU policies such as transport, environment and energy. We believe the European Union needs an approach that, via a range of practical and feasible measures, significantly reduces the levels of all private motorised transport in urban areas and that increases the proportion of journeys made by bicycle as well as on foot and by public transport.
Harmonised fiscal incentives should be part of those measures because several initiatives in the member states show that paying for cycling works. Since 1997, Belgian law allows employers to pay employees, who cycle to work, a tax-free fee of currently € 0.20 per cycled kilometre. Paying the fee is a favour, not a legal obligation. Research by the Belgian mobility department has shown that if a company pays the fee, cycling increases considerably. The number of cyclists rises from 6.3% to 9.5%, that is +50%.
Many years ago, Holland introduced a law allowing employers to give their employees a bike, tax-free, up to an amount of € 749. In 2008, 240,000 so-called company bikes were sold, i.e. almost 1 out of 5 new bikes, at an average price of € 836. Holland has 18 million bicycles for 16 million people. The bicycle accounts for 26% of all trips.
In 2002, the European Commission presented a new strategy on the taxation of passenger cars in the European Union. The Commission analysed existing passenger car taxation systems and explored ways to remove the tax obstacles to free movement of passenger cars within the Internal Market. We believe it is now time for a European analysis of cycling prohibitive taxation systems as an impetus for a new strategy on tax incentives for cycling in the European Union.
3. Establishment Intergroup “Cycling” in the European Parliament
Currently, ETRA works in close cooperation with a small group of cycling enthusiasts in the European Parliament. Furthermore, there are a handful of MEPs who show sympathy for the issue of cycling. ETRA will try to organise a broader and more structural interest and support for cycling in the European Parliament.
4. Cycling safety and safe bicycles
In 2009, the European Commission has decided to introduce Daytime Running Lights (DRL) on all new vehicles from 2011 onwards. ETRA has lobbied against this measure for three reasons. Firstly, there is no scientific evidence to prove that the measure will improve road safety for cyclists. Secondly, it rather forces vulnerable road users to watch out for cars instead of the other way around. And last but not least, ETRA finds it illogical for the Commission to show great interest in harmonising legislation on DRL whilst not seeing any need for harmonising for instance speed limits or blood alcohol limits, factors of far bigger importance in accidents involving cyclists.
ETRA continues to monitor road safety and continues to lobby for measures that may have a considerable effect on cyclists’ safety.
In 2006, the first CEN standards for bicycles were adopted. The TC333 within CEN, responsible for developing standards for bicycles, parts and accessories, is preparing more standards, which will become effective in the next few years. ETRA has a liaison status in TC 333. This provides the opportunity to follow the TC activities from close up.
Some time ago, ETRA has officially submitted a request for a European ban on the sales of bicycles that are not fully assembled and adjusted. Today, such a legal ban only exists in France. The Commission is prepared to consider the request on condition that ETRA provides them with statistics on accidents resulting from the sales of not fully assembled and adjusted bikes. Since none of the EU member states keep records of the causes of accidents involving cyclists, ETRA is unable to provide the European Commission with such data. ETRA is still trying to gather sufficient evidence and hopes to be able one day to convince the European Commission of the risks involved in the sales of bicycles in boxes.
5. Public Health
In 2005, the Commission has established the EU Platform on diet, physical activity and health
. In this Platform, the Commission wants to gather all those who are capable of committing themselves on the issues of diet, physical activity and health. Among the members, you will find the European Modern Restaurants Association, the Association of Commercial Television or the World Federation of Advertisers. ETRA is preparing an application to join the Platform. One of the questions for Platform candidate-members is: “Which actions aimed at promoting healthy diets and physical activity, and at preventing obesity, are you currently carrying out?” The Platform is a unique basis to forge new alliances with a view to promoting cycling as a healthy physical activity.
Since 2008, the European Commission is carrying out the EU health programme 2008-2013. In the Annexe to the relevant Directive, a number of actions are set out, one of which is “to address health determinants to promote and improve health, creating supportive environments for healthy lifestyles and preventing disease taking action on key factors such as nutrition and physical activity.” Another specified action is “to support action on health effects of wider environmental and socio-economic determinants.” Herewith the Commission opens the door to actions for the promotion of cycling.
The European Environment Agency (EEA) is an agency of the European Union. The agency’s task is to provide sound, independent information on the environment. EEA is a major information source for those involved in developing, adopting, implementing and evaluating environmental policy, and also for the general public.
Every year, the EEA publishes a TERM (Transport and Environment Reporting Mechanism), which invariably includes a plea for promoting cycling with a view to making transport more sustainable. In the recently published TERM 2007
, the EEA states: “Cycling and walking have an important role to play in sustainable transport systems. They provide access to public transport and provide alternatives to the use of the passenger car for short local trips.” The EEA also states: “The promotion of cycling and walking to achieve a shift away from motorised transport will address not only policy objectives related to transport, but also those focused on climate change, health, social inclusion and community cohesion, and energy security.”
The EEA should become an essential partner in setting up harmonised data and information collection on cycling, which is required to substantiate the argumentation for cycling in lobby work.
The Joint Research Centre is a Directorate General (DG) established to provide customer-driven, scientific and technical support for the conception, development, implementation and monitoring of EU policies. The Joint Research Centre has an Institute for Environment and Sustainability
, which in turn has a department focusing on sustainable transport.
The final objective of this department is a framework for a modal shift from unsustainable transport to sustainable intermodal solutions. The framework should also analyse economics and social barriers for such a shift. The main customers of this department are among others: the European Commission and Parliament, but also European industrial associations, i.e. automotive, oil and fuel industries. To date there are no contacts between the cycling community and the Institute.
The Institute should become an essential partner in developing and gathering research that can contribute to substantiate the argumentation for cycling in lobby work.
7. Sustainable tourism
The European Commission adopted in October 2007, the “Agenda for a sustainable and competitive European tourism
”. The framework of action includes sustainable management of destinations, the integration of sustainability concerns by businesses and the sustainability awareness by tourists. Cycling is an important factor in sustainable management of destinations, in the integration of sustainability concerns as well as in the sustainability awareness by tourists. At the same time, cycling tourism is becoming increasingly popular. Therefore, a follow-up on this Agenda for the benefit of cycling is required.
In 2009 and forr the very first time, the European Parliament has adopted a new budget line, € 300,000 for 2009, specifically aimed at developing cycling tourism. In the budget 2010, the line has been doubled to € 600,000.
One of the main instruments of this European Policy is the Cohesion Fund
, which mainly co-finances transport and environment projects in Member States who’s GNP is less than 90% of the EU average. Under the current programme that started in 2007 and runs till 2013, the European Union will invest € 308 billion through cohesion instruments.
The Seventh Framework Programme
is running since the first of January this year until 2013. The total budget is € 53.2 billion. Of that, € 1.89 billion has been allocated to the research into climate change and € 4.16 billion to transport research. One of the 3 main transport issues to be researched is sustainable surface transport. That includes reducing the impact of transport on climate change, clean and safe vehicles, intermodal transport, etc.
Next to these very large programmes, there are many more European funding programmes in different areas such as education and training, public health, … To channel a maximum of this funding into cycling related projects, these programmes need to be screened in order to inform the cycling community so that they can make optimal use of the available funding.
 The principle of subsidiarity is defined in Article 5 of the Treaty establishing the European Community. It is intended to ensure that decisions are taken as closely as possible to the citizen and that constant checks are made as to whether action at Community level is justified in the light of the possibilities available at national, regional or local level.
 Green Papers are documents published by the European Commission to stimulate discussion on given topics at European level. They invite the relevant parties (bodies or individuals) to participate in a consultation process and debate on the basis of the proposals they put forward.
copyright © 2013 European Twowheel Retailers' Association (ETRA)