The EU is still a long way from reaching its Green Deal target of 1 million charging points by 2025, and it lacks an overall strategic roadmap for electro-mobility, according to a new report by the European Court of Auditors (ECA). Despite successes such as in promoting a common EU plug standard for charging electric vehicles, and improving access to different charging networks, there are still obstacles to travel across the EU in electric vehicles. The auditors found that the availability of public charging stations varies substantially between countries, that payment systems are not harmonised, and that there is a lack of real-time information available to users.
In 2020, although there was an overall decline in new vehicle registrations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the market share of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles increased significantly. Charging networks, however, are not developing at the same pace.
“Electro-mobility requires sufficient charging infrastructure. But for that infrastructure to be built, there needs to be greater certainty about the uptake levels of electric vehicles,” said Ladislav Balko, the ECA member responsible for the report. “Last year, one in every ten cars sold in the EU was electrically chargeable, but charging infrastructure is unevenly accessible across the EU. We think that the Commission should do more to support EU-wide network coverage, and ensure that funding goes where it is most needed.”
The EU supports Member States’ deployment of electrical charging infrastructure through policy tools, coordination and funding. According to the auditors, no comprehensive gap analysis was made to identify how many publicly accessible charging stations were needed, where they should be located, or what sort of power they should supply. The funding provided through the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) did not always go where it was most needed, and there were no clear and coherent targets, or any consistent minimum infrastructure requirements at EU level. The user experience is complicated by different payment and information systems. For example there is little coordinated information on real-time availability, charging data and billing details between the different networks.
In view of the ongoing revision of the key policy and legislative framework in the area of electro-mobility, the auditors recommend that the European Commission should prepare a strategic roadmap to meet charging infrastructure targets, and establish minimum standards and requirements. They also recommend that funding should be allocated through objective criteria and gap analyses, and to ensure that co-funded projects guarantee sustainable and non-discriminatory access to all users.
Under the European Green Deal which was announced in December 2019, the EU is now aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport by 90% by 2050 compared with 1990, as part of a larger effort to become a climate-neutral economy. Transport accounts for approximately one quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions in the EU, predominantly (72%) through road transport. An essential part of reducing emissions from road transport is the transition to alternative, lower-carbon fuels.