While the setting of the ITS Congress was different this year, the need to cooperate and share solutions is however more important than ever. And while we would have obviously all preferred to meet in person, the fact that we could meet virtually reminds us how valuable digital communication tools have become, and how important it is that we continue to invest time and resources in the further development of digitalisation for the benefit of all.
The themes addressed during the Congress reflected indeed the key challenges of this period as well as the priorities of the European Commission in the transport sector: resilience, sustainability and innovation, which will be further developed in the upcoming Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy.
Resilience first because the impacts of the coronavirus continue to reverberate across the transport sector, and for our mobility systems they have been particularly dramatic. In the spring, we were focused on keeping vital supply chains intact. But our objectives of cutting emissions and embracing digitalisation never went away. Recovery and resilience shall also be in line with the objectives of the European Green Deal and the Commission’s plans to ensure Europe is fit for the digital age.
As I hope you know, the Commission is committed to supporting its Member States achieve these objectives in this challenging period. One way, which we will do this is through the Recovery and Resilience Facility, which will help the transport sector recover and transform. The investments we make will simultaneously help the sector get back on its feet and support the transition to sustainable and smart mobility. The pandemic must never overshadow the climate emergency. We have to offer users healthier, greener, safer, more accessible and affordable alternatives.
I know that the transport sector is struggling today, but I strongly believe that now is the right time to make a real-step change for the following reasons:
First, digitalisation is vital for linking all modes, and is now developing at an extraordinary pace. It could finally unlock the modal shift we have been talking about for decades. Second, electrification, low-carbon and renewable fuels are vastly increasing efficiency and reducing emissions. And finally, automation, and in particular road transport automation, could deliver a viable alternative to private vehicle ownership and add door-to-door mobility to collective and shared transport when integrated into the transport system.
Together, these developments will create a new ecosystem for transport. Binding all these elements will require closer collaboration, and we need to be able to share and use more data than is the case today, between the different mobility and transport actors, as well as across sectors. This is the objective of the European Data Strategy, which includes the development of a Common European Mobility Data Space.
The topics of recovery, sustainability, digitalisation and new mobility ecosystems all overlap. And, more importantly, they are all within our grasp. I am counting on the ITS community to help us achieve our goals – together we can build a stronger, sustainable and resilient transport system.
Let us stay in touch and continue to share ideas, as we move closer to our ideals of future mobility, for the benefit of all European citizens and I am looking forward to seeing you next year!