Conclusions of the diagnosis of the road transport sector in Spain
On 29 March 2022, the Corell Foundation presented the results of the Diagnosis of the professional road transport sector in Spain, find out what were the main conclusions of the conference:
Professional passenger and freight mobility in Spain today is a leading, competitive sector, with European leadership and committed to the social, energy and industrial transformation of the European Union, but at the same time afflicted by the problems that differentiate Spanish society from our major competitors. The sector has structural problems that must be faced, but also great opportunities.
We are facing a unique opportunity for technological and energy transformation that professional transport must make the most of in order to lead its green evolution. The government is being asked to Next Generation funds to digitise management, modernise infrastructures and support the energy transition in the most agile and efficient way.
Our companies have shown enormous resilience and capacity to adapt to the expected and unexpected changes of recent years, but we must insist on "speed" in decision-making.
Carriers and shippers must be strategic partners that support each other's growth in the provision of services to the public, collaborating in the processes of continuous improvement and therefore increasing mutual profitability without imbalances of power.
The disruption brought about by e-commerce highlights the need for a profound transformation of the freight transport system. To achieve this, shippers and carriers must have the same balanced bargaining power in the negotiation of contracts and respect them.
The main weakness of our sector is common to the rest of the economy, the fragmentation of our business fabric with a clear barrier around 50 employees.
All the actors involved, companies, administrations and trade unions must identify and remove the regulatory obstacles that hinder the growth of our companies, while simultaneously guaranteeing working conditions and business survival.
Public administrations must legislate the new Sustainable Mobility Law in a consensual manner and review the Public Service Obligations in depth.
Based on the quality of service to citizens and not exclusively on cost, to prevent regulation from becoming a public auction process that does not take into account the quality of services to citizens but simply the pure price.
The National Mobility System therefore requires a transformation in the governance model that allows for the modernisation of the management of both the Public Service Obligations and the concession map, the management of infrastructures with a broader vision of the mobility ecosystem and especially in the public tendering models, which must prioritise service to citizens, abandoning the economic auction system.
The draft bill needs a profound improvement in the definition of governance and relations between administrations, as well as in the financing of each administrative level. At present, its wording is very confusing, especially in the definition of the participation of local councils, Autonomous Communities and central government, and without the essential financial support that unfortunately disappeared from the initial objectives of the Law.
We must understand transport as a service integrated by all possible modes of transport, both for citizens and for goods, seeking a balance in financing between all of them.
Intermodality has a clear opportunity for growth in Spain, but it needs an organisational approach that it does not have today and a longer-term strategic plan than is normally the case in the political sphere. Intermodal transport will depend on the railway's capacity to fulfil the service quality commitments that lorries currently fulfil.
The demographic challenge must be reflected in the new Mobility Law both in the large urbanisations where most of the Spanish population is grouped, as well as in the area of empty Spain and the rural world, which demand the same services, but where legislation must be adapted to their specific characteristics.
The current geopolitical situation, with a strong impact on fuel prices and a new economic recession, creates the need for technological, industrial and energy independence and forces us to rethink decarbonisation and the reduction of polluting emissions with an open mind.
What technologies will lead us to decarbonisation? What strengths do we have in Spain?
- In Europe existing industrial capacities allow us to continue to improve combustion engines, perfect traditional fuels, invest in biofuels and take advantage of their positive impact on the rural world. And the green hydrogen vector, which must be generated with renewable energy and represents an opportunity for energy independence. The energy transition must be at the lowest possible cost for citizens. Technologies should not be in opposition but complementary.
- A manufacturer must provide a product that is appropriate to the needs and economic capacities of the customer and therefore offer different technical solutions. In parallel, the necessary infrastructure must be developed to use the new technologies. Manufacturers are working on sustainable, connected and economically viable mobility.
- We should therefore speak of a transition process and not a disruptive process. Every administration, every political group, every mobility actor must cooperate in the consensual development of change.
We have talked about environmental commitment, undisputed. Of guaranteeing the health of our fellow citizens and the sustainability of our planet. Of digital innovation, essential for the solid growth of our business fabric. Of intermodal integration of the logistics chain, necessary to boost our competitiveness as an unbeatable logistics enclave as an intercontinental bridge.
But today, above all, we have talked about people whose work must be vindicated, prestigious and respected because of its fundamental importance for our society. The sector's human capital will have to adapt to new technologies and new regulations, and must be recycled in a process of continuous training.
In short, the business, self-employed and labour fabric must receive the recognition it deserves, in line with all that is demanded of it and which is only valued when we lose it.