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Neelie Kroes

European Commission Vice President for the Digital Agenda

Every vehicle digital

EUCAR Annual Conference Reception

Autoworld, Brussels, 8 November 2010

Good evening everybody

For 30 years I've taken an interest in keeping the car industry competitive. Only a year or two ago I was sitting in crisis meetings, where the future for much of the sector looked grim. I am very pleased to see that you are in a much better position today.

But we cannot ignore that context. At the national and EU level we took a decision that the automotive sector is critical to Europe's future. With a whole industrial ecosystem and 12 million jobs depending on it, this was the reasonable position to take. But more than that, we said that we needed an industry that could be in the driver's seat globally.

To reinforce our position we have to improve the very basics of the sector in a way that ad-hoc crisis aid cannot: only sustained excellence in research can ensure the future successes of this industry. With the worst of the crisis behind us, now is the right moment to discuss how to get there.

I am convinced that one critical aspect of your efforts has to be European collaboration.

I know that your sector has the capacity to do great things. During the Public Private Partnership (PPP) conference in Valencia in April this year I sat in a car of the future. If that car's capabilities are an indication of what investing in research can deliver, then I urge you to get the relevant Member State Ministers sitting in such cars tomorrow to help secure the support you need to get those ideas to market.

Here EUCAR's partnership model has played a long-standing role – and the EU can play an important role, too. We see that in efforts like the Green Car Public Private Partnership, and ahead of this Wednesday's revival meeting of the CARS21 initiative I am once again reminded of the links between this work and the wider Digital Agenda for Europe.

Digital Agenda for Europe

On that note, I should say that the Digital Agenda for Europe is the EU's most comprehensive digital action plan ever. Our goal is using ICT to improve daily life. There can be few better places to start than with mobility and the ICT ecosystem that supports it.

So when I speak about "Every European Digital," what I want you to hear is "Every vehicle digital." In this way, your daily work is a key part of Europe's digital transformation.

Take your industry's massive need for chips and embedded systems, for example. We are working to help address those needs through our ENIAC and ARTEMIS partnerships with industry and Member States. These Joint Undertakings are up and running – now we need to make sure they implement the right strategy. Your industry has an important role to play here to help get everybody's commitment: Member State governments will listen to you if you explain the benefits and necessity of European research collaboration of this kind.

Work to advance telemetry and GPS and specific projects like eCall are also part of a long-term push to deliver smart mobility and new platforms for innovation. The Digital Agenda, the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme and the Intelligent Transport Systems action plan could not be more closely linked.

I am personally very passionate about the valuable role that common standards have to play in going digital. Think about how they could speed up the delivery of fully electric vehicles. It is clear, in my mind anyhow, that we will depend on ICT and the results of your research, for all types of future mobility.

Future research

With that in mind, there are three additional priorities I want to mention:

1. Convergence of Future Internet and connected cars

Europe leads in wireless communication to and from vehicles. That is critical to improve both safety and efficiency. And to convert this into global market success global cooperation and standardisation will be required.

This is where the EU's Future Internet Public Private Partnership comes in. We need the automotive and ICT communities side-by-side. That way we can seize the opportunities of the next generation of wireless broadband, beyond 3G, to meet the growing demand for connectivity in cars.

In other words, we can stay in the lead if we collaborate. Mess it up and we will be left behind.

2. Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicles are where ICT and green cars truly meet. And as with connected cars, we need co-operative research to help develop global standards. Only then will electric vehicles reach their potential. The EU will continue to be there playing a full role in the financing of this work.

3. The future of manufacturing

You are the last large manufacturing industry left in Europe. While it may sometimes seem like we have an alphabet soup of initiatives at the Commission, more than ever, these pieces of work are joined up. Vice President Tajani's industrial policy initiative continues this and the Factories of the Future and Green Cars PPPs are just two examples.


Let's keep and extend collaboration at the European level. Pre-commercial collaboration in research can be key for staying competitive. Reducing risks and costs can give you a better shot at global leadership in the future.

Please see the Digital Agenda as your agenda too. We need each other to deliver mobility that is connected, smart, safe and clean.

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