Equal treatment of all employees
by European Commission regardless of modes of transport is a priority on the agenda of the EUCG.
The current EC staff mobility plan, which dates from 2010, is highly unequal. Despite the statement that ‘Staff is encouraged to use the most efficient and sustainable means of transport,’ the Commission actually spends most to facilitate the least sustainable mode by providing car parking free of charge:
- According to the Commission, it costs €1,300 to provide a single car parking space – per year. The market rate close to Rue de la Loi is almost double: €2,400. Someone receiving a car parking place from the EC in this area in fact receives a yearly contribution of €2400.
- The Commission pays 50% of public transport costs up to a distance of 60km. This means support is higher if you live further away from work. Someone taking the train to work receives up to €1,100 a year, more than four times what someone who lives in Brussels and uses the STIB receives (€250).
- People who walk or cycle to work receive no support, while they face considerably higher housing costs compared to those living outside Brussels.
A green mobility plan
would provide a flat fee, mobility budget to all staff regardless of the transport mode they use, in line with the EU’s sustainable urban mobility campaign.
For example, all staff could receive €300 a year. This is more flexible because it can pay for busses, trains, taxis, bikes, shoes or parking. The Commission should charge a parking fee that covers the cost of providing it. This would give people who drive to work an incentive to consider greener modes.
This is urgently needed as the Commission will have to reduce the number of car parking spaces in its building by 50% over the next five years to comply with the Brussels COBRACE regulation. Following the practice in the World Bank, parking fees could be progressive, with lower fees for people with lower salaries.
People who live close to work and use public transport would receive a bit more support. It would also reduce the related paperwork in the related internal services as requesting reimbursements for public transport passes would no longer be necessary, and the resources could be redeployed to value added green mobility actions.
Leading by example
through the new mobility plan would be an excellent opportunity for the Commission to underline its green credentials.
This new plan would be much greener than the current practice of other employers in Brussels, which ranges from providing a heavily subsidised company car, paying for fuel and parking to a full reimbursement for all public transport costs regardless of the distance.
Some employers in Brussels give a small subsidy per km cycled to work. This sounds like a green policy, but it can never close the gap with the support for the car. For example, someone who cycles 10km a day with a support of €0.25 per km would receive only a quarter of what the Commission spends on a single car parking space. Furthermore, such support ignores that 10% of Commission Staff walk to work.
Above all, no commuting is the greenest option of all the alternatives. There is no reason to financially reward people for chosing to live far from work. On the contrary, the Commission must incentivise living close to the workplace, hence eliminating the necessity of long commutes between the home and workplace.