Urban Mobility Framework: members' questions answered

Europe has a new Urban Mobility Framework, launched by the Commission right before the start of 2022,  as part of the wider “Efficient and Green Mobility Package”. 

This new framework will guide the development and implementation of key policy and funding instruments over the next decade. What goals, rationale and building blocks did the Commission follow in its development?

If you want to know, ask – and ask we did, providing POLIS members with the opportunity to interact directly with the European Commission, and more specifically with Isabelle Vandoorne, Deputy Head of the Unit for Research and Innovation (and Urban Mobility) at DG MOVE.

POLIS participated in the Open Public Consultation conducted by the EC in the Fall of last year to “feed” development of this Framework, submitting a position paper titled “Think Local, Act European”. We see some key points reflected in this Urban Mobility Framework, which underscores the importance of public transport and active mobility, while providing renewed focus on the TEN-T Urban Nodes and emphasis on targeted funding across a range of instruments.

So, what does the framework mean in practice for cities and regions, and what is next?


The framework in a nutshell 

The face of urban mobility has transformed since the first Urban Mobility Package in 2013. As new environmental, digital, health and societal objectives arise, and new technologies, services and concepts emerge, guidelines and legislation must also adapt.

The new framework affirms a more ambitious approach to sustainable urban mobility planning (SUMPs) and related indicators. This includes a renewed focus on active travel, obligations to put in place recharging and refuelling infrastructure for electric and hydrogen vehicles in cities. It also addresses zero-emission city logistics and last-mile deliveries, an issue POLIS Urban Freight working group has been working closely on.

Indeed, its publication came following appeals by POLIS- and others – for a schema which reflected the needs of cities and regions, to meet these challenges with targeted solutions.

Critically, this new framework brings together local, regional, and national levels, while also working with organisations like POLIS to connect directly with political leaders and decision makers.

“We must address city centers, but also the peripheral peri-urban regions too. Going beyond the city to consider the role of regions is critical,” said Isabelle Vandoorne, Deputy Head of Unit, Research and Innovation (and Urban Mobility) at DG MOVE.

“In addition, small cities will be key players in the next generation of urban mobility.”  

“We welcome the new Urban Mobility Expert Group that will be launched, bringing decision makers at different levels of government, and other stakeholders together in a more comprehensive structure,” asserted Karen Vancluysen, POLIS Secretary General.


Urban Nodes & TEN-T 

Urban, peri-urban, and rural connectivity is essential. The new framework emphasizes the importance of inter-modal hubs – for passenger and freight transport.

This follows ERRIN and POLIS’ 2020 opinion paper – “Strengthening urban nodes and innovation to enhance the capacity, sustainability, and competitiveness of the European transport system”– on the revision of the TEN-T guidelines, drafted based on our experiences as regional and local actors with the TEN-T implementation.

This involves coordinating logistics to move goods between cities and regions. Isabelle Vandoorne stressed the importance and value of the work that POLIS and ALICE are jointly undertaking in this field.

“We would like to push waterways and cargo bikes- alongside other transport modes to facilitate seamless delivery, while continuing to meet emissions reduction goals”, said Vandoorne.


SUMPs: What is new in the framework? 

“We are reinforcing the need for SUMPs (and sustainable urban logistics plans), and call on national governments to support these plans. We currently lack the coordination between national and local level which is necessary to build capacity,” Vandoorne asserted.

She also identified the importance of looking at existing good example case studies which are available on the Eltis Urban Mobility Observatory- an initiative POLIS collaborates on, and which will continue to provide data on best practices to help inform SUMPs.

SUMP topic guides on urban air mobility will also be published to address the evolving transport and freight landscape.


Digitalisation: supporting new technical and data capacities 

There are a range of new technologies and digital solutions supporting the deployment of high-quality public transport (integrated ticketing, inter-modal hubs, on demand buses etc.).

The new framework emphasizes the need for digitization across public transport to support the enhancements required. This requires effective partnerships between operators, cities and new mobility services providers- a dialogue POLIS has worked widely to facilitate.

Digitisation, digitalisation and data sharing for wider traffic and mobility management is also addressed in the framework- particularly through the ITS directive. Revisions to the legislation, as widely explored through POLIS’ Traffic Efficiency working group, will help facilitate collection and deployment of data for improved urban planning.

“We need more data, but this will also require the reskilling and upskilling of employees to deliver this,” stressed Vandoorne.

This is an issue POLIS has addressed across its Governance working group, and Vandoorne asserted the importance of continuing to address this across the mobility sector.


Shared and micromobility in action 

New shared and micromobility services (e-scooters, bikes, and e-mopeds) are being deployed across Europe. This opens a wealth of new opportunities to expand public transport catchment areas, and to develop more efficient offers for low-density areas and off-peak times.

Guidelines on integration of shared mobility asserts: 

“Municipalities should perceive and promote the potential of sharing modes as an ecologically component within the urban mobility system.”  

However, much work (and collaboration) is needed to embed these new services into the urban mobility mix. Safety and quality remain complex issues for local authorities, and many are continuing to explore how to navigate this issue.

“Data coordination and collaboration is needed,” said Vandoorne- again a topic POLIS has been addressing by bringing together operators and cities in close dialogue.

The Framework underlines the importance of micro and shared mobility as part of the urban transport mix.


Cities as ‘living labs’ 

Our cities are crucial testbeds for new mobility solutions. Therefore, coordination of funding instruments, providing synergies between them is a key pillar of the new framework, enabling this innovation.

“We want coordination between CIVITAS, the Climate Neutral and Smart Cities mission and others. Mobility is high on the Mission’s agenda, and our work programme will focus on integration of planning,” Vandoorne asserted.


Want to know more?

POLIS assists its members in navigating new European policy and identifying project and funding opportunities. If you would like to find out more about POLIS membership, please contact our membership team on the addresses below: 

Francesco Ripa, Communications and Membership Coordinator, 

Isobel Duxfield, Communications and Membership Officer,