Strengthening cooperation between the environment and transport sector

Europe's most important north-south transport axes run through the Alpine arc. The Alps are a sensitive ecosystem, where there is also enormous potential for the reduction of CO2 emissions. In this context, cooperation between the environment and transport ministries of the Alpine states, as well as with the European Union, is very important.

The “Simplon Alliance” initiative emerged during the coinciding Swiss presidencies of the Alpine Conference and the “Zurich Process” for the years 2021-2022. The Swiss Minister of Environment and Transport, Simonetta Sommaruga, used this opportunity to promote cooperation between the two areas.

The Simplon Alliance was launched on the 14th of January 2022 with a first conference of the Alpine environment and transport ministers and the European Commission. The aim is to foster Alpine-wide cooperation between the two areas through a joint action plan.

The motto is “avoid-shift-improve”: the plan aims at a reduction of transport fluxes where possible, the shift of Alpine traffic from the roads to the railways, as well as the promotion of emission-free technologies in road and rail transport. This is to be implemented in the three major areas of transport: Alpine crossing freight transport, Alpine and cross-border passenger transport, and Alpine tourism mobility. To this effect, the Simplon Alliance draws on existing initiatives, combines them with the climate aspect as a central concern and thus offers an exchange platform for joint Alpine-wide actions.

The second ministerial conference took place between the Alpine Conference and the high-level “Zurich Process” conference on the 27th of October 2022 and the Action Plan is expected to be adopted shortly.

Alenka Smerkolj, Secretary General: "Transport and environment are usually conflicting areas, and I am grateful to Switzerland for having decided to bite in this not particularly sweet apple. It was worth the effort: at the end of the negotiations and compromises, and twenty years after the entry into force of the Transport Protocol, the Action Plan is a new outcome to be proud of. We know which way to go forward.”

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