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Changing and transforming mobility: driving in future Europe

Eugene Eteris, BC/RSU, Riga, 07.09.2017.Print version
The EU’s Connecting Europe Facility program, among other things, is aimed at creating synergies between new technologies in such fields as connectivity, cooperative systems, and automation. The idea is to extend the existing Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS) and building a new one to connect and automate driving. But preparatory work in the Baltic States could be huge…

Transport is an important sector for the Baltic States and the whole EU’s economic and social cohesion. However, alongside huge sector’s importance there are numerous challenges: the EU transportation is entering a future of “redefined driving”. That was Vice-President M. Šefčovic’s (in charge of EU Energy Union) message at a recent conference in the European Parliament “Driving future platform: autonomous driving and the question of digital and analogue infrastructure” (05.09.2017). Being a key sector of the economy, transport is a major contributor to the European growth: 4.8% or € 548 billion in gross value added overall for the EU-28 states, and sustains over 11 million jobs in Europe.


Changing old patterns: transforming mobility

Driving may no longer be about holding the wheel and watching the road but about sitting back and reading a newspaper, holding a meeting, or even playing games. Today’s kids may therefore never have a driver's license and the concept of “car accidents” might be a matter of history.  Even air pollution, which kills hundreds thousands of Europeans prematurely every year could be eliminated as cars will be mostly electro-driven.

Thus, the new concept of “connected and automated driving” will be a major “instrument” to reduce accidents, air pollution, combating climate change and reduce dependency on imported energy and in this way contributing to economic prosperity and political stability. For example the number of deaths on Europe’s roads is presently at the level of 30 000.

New vision of “EU’s future transportation” is part of the Commission’s broader approach to changes in transforming mobility. At the end of May-2017, the Commission addressed more comprehensively the concept “Europe on the Move”. By 2050, the EU wants a 60% cut in transport-related greenhouse gas emissions versus 1990 levels and more specifically:


·         no more conventionally-fuelled cars in cities;

·         40% use of sustainable low‑ carbon fuels in aviation;

·         40% cut in CO2 emissions from maritime bunker fuels;

·         50% shift of freight journeys greater than or equal to 300 km from road to rail and to waterborne transport; and

·         majority of medium‑ distance’s travel completed by rail.

Besides, funded through the Connecting Europe Facility program is expected at the level of about € 26 billion up to 2020. 

New policy’s framework

The Commission intends “moving fast”: some advanced driver assistance systems are at place, e.g. such as lane keeping assistance or emergency braking. By 2019, it is expected a first examples of a new generation of cooperative vehicles.


However, some challenges remain: there is a need to upgrade European communication infrastructure, to address cybersecurity threats and ensuring data protection. There are also the questions about the industrial aspects in transportation; there are societal questions in ensuring a smooth transition and some ethical and legal issues.


These challenges can be solved in cooperation among the EU states and among specific sectors or industries; they require a joint and holistic approach between industries and between private and public sectors.


The Commission sees these challenges as a high priority through steering, accelerating, and supporting emerging European market of autonomous cars. The following measures are envisaged:


- financially support research in order to keep a European advantage in the global automobile industry;

- building cross-border platforms for exchanges of knowledge, technical expertise and best practices;

- investment support for cross-border infrastructure; and

- ensuring a stable and consistent regulatory environment across the entire EU market.


= As to funding, the Commission has used the Connecting Europe Facility 2016, inviting proposals on creating synergies between new technologies in different fields, such as connectivity, cooperative systems, and automation. The main idea is to build on the existing Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS) services and build new ones. For example, in 2018, the Commission will fully-fund a 4-year pilot phase of a European Cyber Security Credential Management System; it is open to all stakeholders. This involves the setup of central coordination functions as well an operational EU Root Certification Authority. It will allow all European deployment initiatives to ensure interoperability, security and trust of communications.

= In ensuring coherence across the EU market, the Commission supports the C-ROADS platform which ensures cross-border pan-European interoperability. This target was originally set by the automotive industry and Commission wants the local representatives being active. The importance of cross-border corridors for testing new technologies was also reflected in the Letter of Intent which was sent to all EU states, plus Switzerland and Norway. It further enhances the position of the High Level Roundtable of Telecom and Automotive Industries.


Finally, Commission was working towards concrete proposals such as November-2016 European Strategy on Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS) which sets the scene for future development of connectivity, cooperative and automated systems. Besides, the high Level Group Gear-2030 has just completed its work of developing a comprehensive set of policy and regulatory recommendations focused on the deployment of advanced automated vehicles.  



= The platform of Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems will publish the final report of its second phase on 20 September 2017; C-ITS equipped vehicles are expected on European roads by 2019. The Commission will also provide legal certainty for C-ITS deployment in 2018.

= The GEAR 2030 Group conclusions (expected in October-2017) will result in a roadmap focusing on political, ethical and regulatory aspects to ensure an effective deployment of connected and automated vehicles in the years to come. The Commission will publish the 2018-2019 Work Programme of Horizon 2020 where a whole chapter will be dedicated to automation.

By the end of 2017, the C-ROADS platform will double the number of its members, of its deployment initiatives and its investments in digital road infrastructure. This means tangible progress by authorities and road operators towards the harmonisation of cooperative intelligent transport systems across Europe; the second mobility package will be published at the end of 2017 and include new CO2 emissions standards for cars and vans, and a revision of the EU legislation on clean vehicles. This will accelerate the uptake of low-emission public transport vehicles such as buses.

= Electrification will only happen with adequate infrastructure and better batteries: the Commission is analysing the national alternative fuel infrastructure plans and will issue recommendations and proposals for financing. As for batteries, various stakeholders are trying to develop a next generation of manufacturing services in Europe.

= The Commission relies on European industrial sector to take the lead: “Europe was a global leader of the previous industrial revolutions, literally paving the way of the rail and train industries and later the automotive industries”, argued the vice-president hoping that the industry would also lead the new industrial revolution based on clean, connected, and competitive mobility. It means embracing new technologies without necessarily waiting for consumer demand: e.g. at the transition from mobile phones to smart phones, or from traditional watches to digital ones. These success stories were driven by supply of new technologies not by demand for new solutions: when there's a true value proposition, the market follows. If the EU companies will not do it, then other companies will and they will enjoy the first mover's advantage. That is why a 'business as usual' approach is doomed to fail: the EU industries, especially the car industry, will have to constantly re-invent themselves, added the vice-president.

= The Commission calls on the private sector to recognise the need of investment in physical and digital infrastructures. These investments will need to cover the creation, maintenance and storage of large amounts of data, as well as the means to share this data across platforms, brands and borders. The EU will provide assistance but it should not replace the private sector.

European Parliament, he added has to follow the Commission priorities including the field of mobility: by the end of 2016 about 90% of the legislation of the Energy Union had been presented to the Parliament; this fast pace had the clear goal of completing the legislative process very soon.

Source: Vice-President Šefčovic speech in the Parliament “Driving Future Platform: Autonomous Driving and the Question of Digital and Analogue Infrastructure”, Brussels, 5 September 2017,  

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