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The mobility revolution and its required good governance

| News | Public and Regulatory Law

Carlos Mínguez and Carlos Morales analyze current mobility policies in an article published in the newspaper El Economista

There are so many occasions when there is talk of a new revolution that the word seems to have lost part of the ground-breaking meaning that defines it. The consumer revolution, the communications revolution, the technological revolution and, yes, the mobility revolution, too.

Alluding to the mobility revolution leads to a thorough reflection on two force-ideas: on the one hand, the impact that modern mobility policies are having on classic means of transport; on the other hand, the new forms of transport and mobility resulting from the big bang provoked by the union of technology, capital and business decision.

But nothing changes. People move by themselves or by means of a third party through the city or between the inhabited nuclei. The same happens with the goods produced. Radical change affects the how. The end of the carbon economy explains this change. The materials that cornered animal traction are now laminated by new, more sustainable and efficient energies to which our society and economy are committed. The unsustainability of the projection of Western energy consumption to feline Asian economies is evident, on a global scale. The emissions that the Chinese economy generates to produce 1000 dollars of its GDP are double the average of the OECD countries. Its projection to giants that begin to wake up like India is terrifying, because it is unsustainable.

Transport is electrified to become more sustainable. The electric motor or hydrogen cell will displace the combustion engine. Our lungs (and our health) will appreciate it. Air quality will improve proportionally to the decrease we achieve in levels of primary pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides or fine and ultra-fine particles, and secondary pollutants, such as tropospheric ozone, which currently deteriorate the quality of the ambient air in our cities.

"The State can and must legislate on mobility to ensure, moreover, the effective equality of citizens, market unity and the proper management of our economy.

In this sense, the initiative of public administrations is praiseworthy, although it comes a little late and not systematically, more often than not. Systematicity in this field demands the coherent exercise of its competences by those administrations that have them assigned. In recent years the State has done a Godot, paraphrasing Beckett, thereby generating a high regulatory risk. Autonomous communities and local authorities seem to have taken the lead in the face of some state inaction. The distortions that could derive from the difficult fitting of numerous local ordinances and mobility plans together with several autonomous laws to combat climate change in a context of absence of basic regulations on the subject is worrying.

Mobility policies are an essential part of plans to combat air pollution. The legislative capacity of the State is indisputable in this field. The State can and must legislate on the matter based on these regulations to guarantee, moreover, the effective equality of citizens, the unity of the market and the correct management of our economy.

At the local level, the citizen must be free to choose how he moves through his city, among the various sustainable ways he can do so. In recent years a wide range of possibilities have been opened for consumers to decide how we move. In addition to the traditional means of transport (taxi, bus or metro), there are platforms and companies that offer new non-polluting vehicle rental services by time slots: motorcycles, cars or e-scooters.

The response given to these initiatives by the large Spanish municipalities poses more shade than light. For the most part, their town councils have taken advantage of the regulation of the public spaces that these vehicles occupy and the traffic and circulation to which they are subject to implement a genuine regulation of the activity lacking, however, legal support. This regulation also shows, in the recent past, a common pattern based on mistrust and a certain supplanting will of the initiative.

"Local authorities must limit themselves to regulating aspects of their competence and the regulation of an economic activity, such as the leasing of vehicles without a driver or fixed base, far exceeds them”.

Free initiative in the exercise of economic activity can only be subject to strictly enforceable limits for reasons of general interest. Local authorities must limit themselves to regulating aspects of their competence and the regulation of an economic activity, such as the leasing of vehicles without a driver or fixed base, is way beyond them.

The occupation of the public domain and from there, the unmotivated establishment of quantitative limits, cannot be an excuse that allows to influence the development of the activity of the operators reaching to limit it or to make it impossible through limitations to its deployment. Local authorities must make full use of their powers to ensure that private agents become the driving forces behind the new mobility policies without renouncing a fair economic return for the use of public space. Public-private collaboration is a key tool in the fight against pollution and climate change

The restrictions imposed on these activities are therefore counterproductive. They limit the visibility and accessibility to a green and transnational phenomenon, which generates income for the administrations, and which collaborates in a cultural change that is essential to achieve the objectives of sustainable development. The regulatory deficit, by excess or by default, generates important negative environmental, economic and social externalities.

Mobility operators agree on diagnosis and prescription. Overcoming this deficit is another of the challenges that the new Executive will have to face. Its inclusion in the public agenda of the coming years is already an inexcusable and unavoidable duty.

You can read the article in El Economista.

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