On Tuesday 11 June, ERTICO – ITS Europe held its Strategic Think Tank, a milestone event designed to foster in-depth and strategic discussions about the future direction with all our partners present in the day. As we approach a new era with the European Commission and European Parliament, this event was pivotal in aligning our strategies with the evolving landscape, inviting esteemed keynote guests, Joanna Drake, Deputy Director General of DG RTD; Paloma Aba Garrote, Director of CINEA; and Herald Ruijters, Deputy Director-General of DG MOVE from the European Commission. Their invaluable insights guided our strategic thinking and inspired our collective path forward.

Held in conjunction with the 34th General Assembly, the Strategic Think Tank emphasised ERTICO’s commitment to advancing intelligent and sustainable mobility solutions, preparing for a future characterised by integration, innovation, and resilience. Dr Angelos Amditis, ERTICO Chairman and Joost Vantomme, CEO of ERTICO expressed their thoughts and key takeaways during their final presentations:

“We should not be here in five years discussing the same issues, same challenges and same questions. What we have built as EUROPE, as ERTICO and as the smart mobility ecosystem is not set in stone, so we need to safeguard all the progress we have made, all the achievements, so Europe can go further in a more integrated and I would dare to say more federal road ahead,” stated Dr Angelos Amditis, ERTICO Chairman. CEO of ERTICO, Joost Vantomme reiterated the importance of interactive collaboration, urging participants to review past and present focus areas and identify new priorities. He emphasised, “We heard really inspirational speeches today. We need more of these eye-openers. There is still a way to go, but we have the building blocks at ERTICO to drive forward.”

Opening Remarks and Setting the Scene for Open Dialogue

Master of Ceremony for the day, Agne Vaitekenaite, Partnership Manager at ERTICO, introduced Dr Angelos Amditis, Chairman of the Supervisory Board to open the event. In welcoming the partners from the eight ERTICO sectors, he highlighted the public-private cooperation spirit of ERTICO and noted the significance of this being the first Think Tank held in person since the pandemic. Reflecting on the past year, Angelos highlighted the multifaceted challenges faced by the transport and mobility sector, including industrial, climate, and geopolitical issues.

“The post-COVID era has dramatically altered work-life balance and mobility patterns, necessitating adaptive strategies. He acknowledged the European Commission’s substantial efforts over the past years, particularly in advancing the Green Deal and transport policy aimed at reducing emissions by 90% by 2050. ERTICO has been actively aligning its initiatives with these European strategies, making significant strides in areas such as the Green Deal, Digital Agenda, Smart & Sustainable Mobility Agenda and Urban Mobility/Cities Mission. Angelos concluded his remarks by acknowledging the progress made and introduced Joost Vantomme, ERTICO’s CEO, to further elaborate on the strategic initiatives.

Achievements and Vision by Joost Vantomme’s Address

Joost Vantomme took the stage to welcome all partners for attending the event and presented some key highlights of the many achievements from the last year, including new partnerships, initiatives such as the Podcast and Webinar Series, but also emerging projects across the areas of CCAM, data spaces, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity to 6G connectivity, urban mobility, electromobility and transport for logistics. He also pointed out the importance of legislative synchronisation where collaboration is key. ERTICO presented its new Ambassador programme for all partners, innovation platforms and data spaces, but also the cross-fertilisation with associations and platforms such as the MaaS Alliance and TISA.

In terms of cooperation, Joost continued his presentation by highlighting the intensified cooperation with the network of ITS Nationals, as well as the importance of research and innovation (R&I), highlighting the need for effective deployment beyond research. ERTICO’s ITS Market Radar report includes opportunities and solutions to some of the barriers encountered. He reiterated ERTICO’s commitment to fostering knowledge, operational models, and tangible benefits for users and stakeholders and expressed his gratitude for the good cooperation and sync with the European Commission services.

Interactive Collaboration: Breakout Sessions

The Think Tank then transitioned into four breakout workshop sessions, introduced by Angelos who emphasised the importance human-centric approach, integrating users, and the role of digitalisation in achieving clean and safe mobility. He highlighted the need for resilient transport systems for the mobility of people, goods, and data. Declaring 2024 a year of strategic refit, Angelos noted ongoing discussions with plans to adapt today’s insights by September with the Supervisory Board. He also mentioned the important collaboration with the EU Commission and Parliament in the coming period as ERTICO will continue to define its future direction in alignment with the European agenda, exploring new ideas and incorporating revolutionary concepts within the transport ecosystem. He then presented different ideas and scenarios coming from the discussions at the ERTICO’s Strategy Committee and Supervisory Board for the new vision, goals and focus areas of ERTICO as food for thought for the coming breakout sessions.

Led by the ERTICO office, these sessions allowed ERTICO partners to feed ideas for calibrating the mission, vision and activities of ERTICO.  Participants engaged in discussions on current and future focus areas. Discussions highlighted topics such as data, scale-up and business models, user experience, AI and automation. The challenges were prioritised, and the groups then moved on to consider the solutions, tools and activities needed to overcome the most pressing challenges, especially to overcome silos. The ERTICO office will collate the findings from the four discussions, particularly the resulting views from the partnership on horizontal thematic and vertical application and focus areas to inform the next round of Supervisory Board discussions.

Inspirational Keynotes

The keynote speeches delivered during the Think Tank were particularly impactful, setting the tone for the day’s discussions. Joanna Drake, Deputy Director General of DG RTD, Paloma Aba Garrote, Director at CINEA, and Herald Ruijters, Deputy Director-General, DG MOVE, European Commission invited to present their perspectives and inspiration to this day.

Joanna Drake, Deputy Director General of DG RTD, European Commission, provided an insightful keynote on the current landscape of European transport and mobility policy. She discussed the substantial efforts made to align with the Green Deal and the importance of sustainability in reducing transport emissions. Joanna emphasised the critical role of digital technologies in enhancing efficiency and safety and highlighted the European Commission’s commitment to solidarity with Ukraine, recovery from COVID-19 impacts, and improving conditions in the transport sector. Her address underscored the importance of strategic alignment and collaboration to achieve these ambitious goals.

Paloma Aba Garrote, Director of CINEA at the European Commission, delivered an inspirational keynote focusing on the future of intelligent mobility. She explored the potential of new technologies such as AI and 5G in revolutionising transport systems. Paloma stressed the need for robust cybersecurity measures and the importance of privacy in the digital age. She also highlighted the Commission’s vision of creating a seamless single market through over 80 initiatives aimed at making the EU transport system sustainable, smart, and resilient. Her speech served as a call to action for all stakeholders to embrace innovation and collaboration to drive forward the mobility agenda.

Herald Ruijters, Deputy Director-General, DG MOVE, European Commission, provided an enlightening concluding keynote, focusing on the integration of mobility systems and the future of transport in Europe. He emphasised the necessity of a connected, sustainable, and user-centric transport system. Herald discussed the ongoing efforts to enhance multimodality and the importance of interoperability across different transport modes. He highlighted the role of innovation in achieving these goals and the need for continuous collaboration between public and private sectors. Herald’s speech reinforced the day’s discussions on advancing intelligent mobility solutions and underscored the strategic vision for the future of European transport, including the following key points:

  • Resilience and Safety: Ensuring a safer and more secure ecosystem to save lives, reducing the current rate of 20,000 road fatalities per year.
  • Standards and Integration: The need for setting standards to make intelligent transport systems (ITS) thrive across Europe, with a focus on C-ITS and CCAM.
  • Ukraine as an Example: Demonstrating the importance of resilient and adaptable transport systems, as highlighted by the ongoing situation in Ukraine.
  • Multimodal Integration: The significance of developing seamless, decarbonised urban mobility modes, with integrated ticketing and European data spaces.
  • Green Corridors: Successful examples like the TEN-T network, showcasing completely green corridors managed collaboratively by key transport regulators.

Herald concluded his inspirational speech by stressing the ambitions for the next five-year period, one that will be ambitious. He also commented that ERTICO has been very inspiring in delivering solutions and this will remain key to the common progress of transport and mobility in Europe. From his speech, Herald conveyed that events like this, organised by ERTICO, demonstrate the great investment and enthusiasm which reflect how each of us can contribute to transforming society and making it a better place. Transport is a crucial component of the European agenda, and this cannot be amplified enough in the coming period. Herlad concludes his inspirational speech, by reflecting on having been with ERTICO since the very start in 1991, attesting to the pivotal role the organisation plays in driving these initiatives forward. The collective ambition and the ongoing efforts of ERTICO will shape the future of mobility and its impact on society.

Concluding remarks

In conclusion, Angelos and Joost underscored the importance of interactive collaboration, urging participants to review past and present focus areas to identify new priorities. In conclusion to this part of the day, they introduced the opening of the 34th General Assembly which undertook important decisions on electing the future leadership for ERTICO in the next three years. Read more about the decisions and outcomes – made available here.

At last, we extend our heartfelt thanks to our Partners, the ERTICO office and all participants and stakeholders who joined us for the Strategic Think Tank in Brussels on this day. All the insights and active participation have been crucial in shaping the in-depth discussions and strategic priorities, navigating our future direction as we prepare for significant developments in Europe.

Pictures from the event are available on ERTICO’s Flickr account.