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Vice-President of the Commission, responsible for Transport
Intelligent transport: technologies and services
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Intelligent transport systems conference
Brussels, 22 June 2010
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to welcome you all here today to our conference on Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS), the first of a planned series of annual ITS conferences to report on the progress of our ITS action plan and directive.
To start, let me offer my personal attempt at defining intelligent transport: transport is intelligent if it provides efficient mobility to people and goods and freedom to move, while minimising negative effects on health, nature, the economy and quality of life. Intelligent transport systems can be a powerful tool to support overall transport policy goals in many ways. However, ITS deployment is not a goal in itself.
Which policy goals do I mean? How exactly can ITS help? Let me give you some clear examples.
From these examples I hope it becomes clear that I am convinced that ITS can make a difference. We are determined to make an extra step to accelerate the deployment of ITS throughout Europe to help making this difference be felt a reality. Indeed, Europe has a role to play here, not by taking everything into our own hands, but by supporting the right framework conditions: the policy priorities, legal certainty, possibly the choice of generic ITS components to be shared or re-used, and agreement on a clear timetable.
With that in mind we adopted in late 2008 the ITS action plan with its 24 concrete measures. Director-General Matthias Ruete will later explain the details of this plan and the progress we have made to date. But I want to briefly recall the objectives of our work. We aim at:
Privacy and security requirements need to be incorporated into all standards, technical specifications and systems. More on this important issue later today. A European approach is needed to set common priorities and to work on the continuity of services across borders. Scale effects will lead to cost reductions and help promoting the European ITS industry. The ITS action plan is very much based on existing work, for example on research and development. It supports the necessary practical take-up of innovative solutions already supported in research projects. It brings together five departments of the Commission which cooperate in team spirit — itself valuable administrative inter-operability, if you allow me this side remark.
With the action plan, the Commission proposed a directive to prepare the legal framework for ITS deployment. In the last 18 months we have had very fruitful and constructive discussions in the European Parliament and in the Council. I am very pleased to see we are now on the final stretch of adoption and that both the Spanish Presidency and the Parliament's rapporteur, Ms Jensen, are here with us today to share their expectations about what the forthcoming directive can bring.
The aim of the directive is to take a substantial step towards harmonised use of ITS while leaving full freedom to deploy systems locally, regionally or nationally as appropriate and necessary. The core will be the work on functional, technical and organisational specifications. These specifications, based on careful impact assessment, would become mandatory when ITS is deployed. The first priorities are traffic and travel information, eCall and intelligent truck parking. In short: we will harmonise for some priority services how deployment is done, but we will not prescribe whether it is done or how the systems work in detail.
Another important pillar of our ITS activities are the Trans-European Networks for Transport (TEN-T). As you probably know, we are currently in the decisive phase of our review of the TEN-T policy. The Commission has drafted a proposal for a new methodology for TEN-T planning, which is under public consultation until mid-September. ITS represents an important part of the proposed core network. It will enhance the efficient use of infrastructure and is a key to genuine network integration.
Ladies and Gentlemen, before concluding, allow me to put before you a question I already asked at the International Transport Forum in Leipzig last month:
Why can't I yet plan or book my journey through Europe — switching from air to rail or sea, to urban or road transport — in one single go and online? Although there are very good examples at regional, and sometimes national level, there is as yet no integrated European travel planning, not to speak about ticketing. I would like to use this occasion again to issue my innovation challenge to industry and stakeholders: Please do come up with demonstrations of real European multimodal journey planners — ideally enhanced by reservation and ticketing facilities, to provide seamless ticketing and travel.
I know obstacles are plentiful: legal, technical, political and the business case. But let me assure you we are ready to listen and ready to play our part in removing barriers to innovation experienced by industry and stakeholders. Multimodal journey planners are a topic of both actions plans on ITS and on urban mobility. Specifications for multi-modal travel information will be a priority of the forthcoming ITS directive. I very much hope we can use the opportunity of next year's ITS gathering and make it a public showcasing event to test and compare the best integrated travel planning solutions and service developments proposed by then.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I hope I was able to demonstrate why ITS is so important for us and what our approach is to accelerate the use of services throughout Europe. There will be ample opportunity to discuss more details throughout the day. Let me conclude: intelligent transport is about technology — but not only technology: it is also very much about services for real people with real needs. This requires good management of all transport-related processes. Caring for one's passengers, clients, employees and their needs helps in identifying innovative solutions and new business opportunities. Service thinking is a must.
Thank you very much for your kind attention.