Pressure groups in the transport sector

Pressure groups and power relations between transport stakeholders.

Key words: transport, collusion, lobbies, lobbies, Brussels, corporatism, financial interests.

We can smile at the mention of the initiative of two French parliamentarians who, in 1998, created the association "Autoroute-Avenir". Speaker to their peers, MM. Oudin, Senator RPR of Vendée and Inchauspé, former deputy of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques and administrator of the Motorways of the South of France and banker, obtained without difficulty a clear position of the Senate in favor of the transports: according to its rapporteur, J. François-Poncet , "The necessary opening up of rural territories presupposes the construction of new roads".

Put in the context of the time, it was above all a question of voting against the draft Orientation Law for the Planning and Sustainable Development of the Territory (LOADDT) defended by Minister D. Voynet, not really of the same political color as the senatorial majority. But we also remember the tasty Brua report, writing that “elected officials (…) insist on the need to improve the conditions of external accessibility, to the capital of the Department, the Region or the capital. This requirement (…) corresponds moreover to the personal travel needs of elected representatives (…) ”.

In the field of transport, lobbies are agitating both to encourage the construction of new infrastructures and to support the use of, inter alia, the automobile. They intervene throughout the chain of decision, putting pressure on the institutions and affirming it loud and clear in the press.

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This is the case when the National Federation of Public Works (FNTP) calls on the state "a special effort in favor of road investments". Or when C. Gerondeau, thundering President of the Road Union of France, believes that "air pollution is a phenomenon of the past" and that "if we invest reasonably in the road, the clutter will decrease ".
The lobbies are busy, and their interpersonal skills are, of course, inspired by the considerable economic weight of the transport sector to seat the ministerial cabinets and influence public decision-making.

This is just as obvious to the European Commission, which is now institutional (and according to it fair) the presence and advice of often professional lobbyists. Thus, it is estimated that in Brussels there are about 3 000 interest groups of national or regional dimension including 400 representations of companies, 750 European coalitions of companies, 500 consulting firms, 200 associations, about 13 000 full-time people.

Result: the Commission considered in 1992 that on 400 draft texts under study, 100 only resulted from the initiative of its administration. But beware, these figures are to be handled with care because they concern absolutely all the areas treated in Brussels, including the fight against climate change and for sustainable transport!

Let's not dream all the same. It is difficult to see how Transport & Environment, for example, the European Environment Bureau and the WWF-European Policy Office, among other NGOs working on these themes with a few dozen members, can compete with the power of the European Round Table of industrial (ERT). This “fifth column”, made up of representatives of some forty of the most powerful firms in Europe if not in the world, and which in 1996 totaled a turnover of 550 billion euros and 3 million jobs, n ' has never been stingy with his advice. It intervenes at the highest level of European bodies, namely the Presidency of the Commission.

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Thirifter of the opening of markets and economic deregulation, the entry into force of pension funds in employee savings and the privatization of school education to name just a few of its areas of preference, it certainly does not neglect the issues of energy, mobility and transport and, of course, climate change.

Strongly opposed to any regulatory measure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the ERT found itself side by side with its US counterparts at the 2000 Climate Change Conference in The Hague, when it came to defending the principle of emission permits.

On the subject of transport, it is suspected of having strongly influenced Brussels' cautious decisions regarding fuel consumption or CO2 emission standards. On the other hand, we know that the ERT played a central role directly with J. Delors, at the time President of the European Commission, in the development in the early 90 years of the TransEuropean Transport Network. However, this network provides no less than the completion of 12 000 km of additional motorways (France had 10 771 km at the beginning of 2000), 11 new high-speed rail lines, a good ten large-scale navigation channels , a sprinkling of new international airports interna-tional international airports, all spread from Scotland to Turkey and from Gibraltar to Warsaw.

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Who do we find among ERT members? The leaders of BP-Amoco, Fiat, Lufthansa, Pirelli, Renault, Royal Dutch Shell, Repsol, Mol Hungarian Oil and Gas Company, Volvo, Total-Elf-Fina. Like what we are never as well served as by ourselves, there is only to choose the right table!

This text is extracted from the report: Transport and climate change: a high-risk junction published by the Climate Action Network in April 2004.

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