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The future of E-charging infrastructure in the European Union and United Kingdom25 March 2020

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Both the European Union (EU) and United Kingdom (UK) have committed to ambitious carbon dioxide emission reduction programmes, the former to 40% of its 1990 level, as part of a long-term strategy to decarbonise their transport sectors by “using alternative means of transport, connected and automated driving, combined with the roll-out of electric vehicles and enhanced use of alternative fuels”.

While some EU members are focusing on natural gas-powered vehicles, many (Austria, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden), as well as the UK, are prioritising electric vehicles.

And ambitious some of these countries’ aspirations are. Germany wants to have one million electric vehicles by 2022 and France double that number by the same date. The UK meanwhile intends its traffic to be emission-free by 2050, while Spain will not be allowing non-electric vehicles to be registered as of 2040. How likely France and Germany are to be able to meet their targets is open to debate, with many arguing their deadlines are unrealistic.

Regardless, since 2014, the EU has required all member states to “ensure that recharging points accessible to the public should be built up with adequate coverage in order to enable electric vehicles to circulate at least in urban/suburban agglomerations and other densely populated areas”.¹

To help achieve this, more than a dozen electric vehicle infrastructure projects forming part of the TEN-T/CEF-T programme, focused on creating trans-European corridors and linking projects operated by member states, are currently being supported by the European Commission (EC). The EU is also actively promoting interoperability, open standards, and smart charging, with one million new charging points being created across Europe by 2025 as part of the EC’s “Green New Deal”.

Expanding the existing charging infrastructure is key to ensuring the EU and UK can meet their above-mentioned ambitious targets and make Europe the world leading continent in zero-emission technologies. And that, in turn, depends on having applicable legal frameworks in place.

For investors and developers that means that a whole new area of business opportunities is coming or is already here. This briefing summarises the current legal frameworks in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK and the already existing business models we see in the market for electric charging stations on that basis.

¹ Directive 2014/94/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council.

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