Timmermans announces European Declaration on Cycling at CIE 2023

On 9 March 2023, European Commission Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans announced the European Cycling Declaration.

The announcement, done on the occasion of the Cycling Industries Summit 2023 in Brussels — an essential milestone for all cycling stakeholders in Europe, as described by Tony Grimaldi, President of CIE, highlighted how the European Cycling Declaration will complete the ambitious EU cycling plan to increase funding for infrastructure and industrial growth, boost cycling across the European Union, and create one million new, green cycling jobs.

The European Cycling Declaration comes as part of the EU's broader effort to reduce carbon emissions and promote sustainable transportation: the Declaration follows indeed a resolution passed by the European Parliament in February which called on the Commission and Member States to take actions to double cycling in the EU — a feat that Timmermans called a “huge democratic mandate for cycling” that eases the work of the European Commission on the matter.

An inter-institutional effort

Timmermans was joined by MEP Karima Delli and Belgian Transport Minister Georges Gilkinet, who respectively represented the Parliament and the Member States, in front of a full audience of industry leaders. Both agreed that the proposed Declaration will be inter-institutional in nature, marking the EU's highest degree of political commitment to cycling.

Reiterating this, Timmermans said:

“I am announcing an initiative to boost the bike in Europe. The Commission will propose a European Cycling Declaration and invite the Parliament and Council to join and make this an inter-institutional agreement. We will include principles for supporting cycling and access to tools and funds.

This will ensure our citizens will not only have the right to cycle on paper but access to support. European instruments must be used to double cycling in Europe!”

The industry approves

POLIS’ Secretary General Karen Vancluysen moderated the morning of the Cycling Industries Summit — after the speeches of Timmermans, Delli, and Gilkinet, as well as Grimaldi and Kevin Mayne, Chief Executive of Cycling Industries Europe, she introduced a panel dedicated to the European Cycling Strategy, which included voices from the industry the likes of:

  • Ulrich Prediger, Founder of JobRad
  • Kristian Brink, CEO of Urban Sharing
  • Eva Oosters, Deputy Mayor of Utrecht
  • Joost Vantomme, CEO of ERTICO-ITS Europe

Bike sharing and cycling are not experiments — but they need funding to be hyper-scaled and become long-lasting policy objectives and actions: this was a clear message coming from the panel, with Oosters underlining the emancipatory role of cycling, Prediger stating that producing and selling bicycles is not enough if there is not a matching service offer to the one of the car industry, and Brink saying: “If we want to make sure everyone has affordable access to bikes and e-bikes, we need to make sure the new EU Cycling Strategy will include measures and funding to bike share across European cities”.

What is next

Frans Timmermans stated in the comprehensive announcement for the EU Cycling Declaration that the Commission will publish a vision for cycling by the summer, accompanied by detailed suggestions on the steps to be done to implement the goals.

This must include infrastructural financing, regulatory reform, and support for cycling businesses in the EU's industrial strategy. The strategy is anticipated to be reviewed by the European Parliament and the European Council of Member States by the end of 2023.