A historic milestone for cycling: European Institutions officially adopt joint European Cycling Declaration

A historic milestone for cycling: European Institutions officially adopt joint European Cycling Declaration

The adoption of the European Cycling Declaration reflects the strong collaborative efforts of civil society, the cycling industry, and governmental institutions

Today, the European Council, Commission and Parliament signed the European Cycling Declaration, marking the official adoption of the first inter-institutional cycling policy at the European level. ECF welcomes this historic milestone with enthusiasm, which is set to serve as a strategic compass for existing and future cycling policies. Organised by the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, an informal meeting of EU transport ministers provided the backdrop for the signing.

The European Cycling Declaration, the most ambitious EU initiative on cycling to date, recognises cycling as a fully-fledged mode of transport. With eight core principles and 36 commitments, this landmark declaration described cycling as one of the "most sustainable, accessible and inclusive, low-cost and healthy forms of transport and recreation, and its key importance for European society and economy."

Henk Swarttouw, President of ECF, said, "The European Cycling Declaration will be etched in history as a monumental milestone for the advancement of cycling in Europe. This inter-institutional declaration commits all European Institutions to support and enhance policies towards more cycling and to place it on the same level as other modes of transport. We are proud to have played a decisive role advocating for this declaration, alongside our members and our industry partners."

Jill Warren, CEO of ECF, said, "Today, we celebrate the adoption of the European Cycling Declaration as a truly historic achievement. This declaration holds the potential to unlock the benefits of cycling for millions of European citizens, reflecting many of ECF's longstanding advocacy and policy demands. With cycling elevated to a strategic priority, we stand ready to support the institutions in realising its full potential as a healthy and sustainable means of transport."

The adoption of the European Cycling Declaration follows a series of high-level political commitments on cycling, including the pledge made in 2023 by former Commission Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans, the European Parliament's Cycling Resolution, the Member State led Declaration on Cycling, and the announcement of the Cycling Declaration proposal by EU Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean at the EU Urban Mobility Days event in Seville last October. Earlier this year, the Transport Committee of the European Parliament overwhelmingly voted to adopt the European Cycling Declaration.

The adoption of the European Cycling Declaration reflects the strong collaborative efforts of civil society, the cycling industry, and governmental institutions. ECF, as the only Europe-wide civil society voice for cycling, together with its industry partners Cycling Industries Europe and Confederation of the European Bicycle Industry (CONEBI) had long advocated for a unified cycling policy at the European level and were at the forefront every step of the way.

The adoption of this declaration sets out a roadmap for further coordinated action in promoting cycling as a sustainable and inclusive mode of transport for all European citizens. ECF now urges the institutions to maintain their collaborative and consultative approach to ensure the successful implementation of the principles and commitments the declaration contains. Together with our members and wider stakeholders we stand ready to fully support the effective implementation. 

CEO Jill Warren and Director of Policy and Development Philip Amaral attended the signing ceremony at the Brussels Palais d'Egmont on behalf of ECF. Delivering a keynote speech on behalf of industry, Tony Grimaldi, President of CIE, said in his keynote to the Transport Ministers: "There is no reason to wait to grow cycling in Europe. It is a win-win – mobility transition, job creation, economic growth, promotion of local companies – all available now, all affordable now. Let's develop a world-class European cycling industry and give boost to European leadership!"

Commenting on the adoption Erhard Büchel, CONEBI President, said: "The EU's endorsement of this Declaration sends a strong message about the prioritisation of cycling and its recognition as a key element of sustainable mobility. Greater uptake of cycling means indeed more quality local jobs too and its role is also beneficial to the EU economy - contributing to the objectives of the current and future EU industrial strategy."

With the 2024 EU Parliament elections approaching, ECF's "Shift Gears for Europe" manifesto calls on MEP candidates to commit to supporting cycling in the upcoming political term and to make it a democratic, affordable, and reliable means of transport for people across all income levels. The adoption of the European Cycling Declaration presents MEPs with a unique opportunity to ensure that cycling is a top EU political priority. The manifesto includes six specific action points that MEPs can undertake to ensure citizens can directly benefit from cycling.

The European Cycling Declaration will also be a key topic of discussion at ECF's flagship Velo-city conference taking place 18-21 June 2024 in Ghent, Belgium. The conference will bring together 1,500 delegates from cities and national governments, advocates, academics and industry from over 60 countries and will include a plenary session featuring EU and national ministry representatives, who will discuss and share their views on the significance and implementation of the Declaration.

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