Maroš Šefcovic (Slovakia, S&D group) is a familiar face in the European Commission, where he held the portfolio for Inter-Institutional Relations and Administration in the retiring Barrosso Commission. The new Commission president Jean Claude Juncker has now proposed him to swap this responsibility for the new post of Commissioner for Transport and Space, taking over from Siim Kallas. This provided that the European Parliament gives its consent to the new College of Commisioners.

From his opening speech during his hearing at the European Parliament last Monday, Šefcovic brought to the forefront the key role of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) as one of the essential ingredients to achieve a “world class transport system” which is environmentally-friendly, safe and modern.

Mr Šefcovic’s point of departure was that transport and mobility are the “backbone of a modern society” and a source of growth and jobs in Europe. Glad to see Transport and Space merging into the same portfolio, Maroš Šefcovic highlighted the need to tackle transport challenges with a long-term vision. He said: “This means we need to deploy ITS and we need to work on fully intermodal, interconnected networks based on the new satellite and digital technologies”;

As an instance of that, the candidate to chair the new Transport and Space DG, explained that it will be necessary to rely on business support for a successful uptake of the Galileo GNSS. European regulations would, in turn, play a role in ensuring that new receivers such as eCall, are compatible with Galileo signals.

Along the same lines, the Commissioner-designate expressed his will to boost “new services and products that will allow citizens and businesses to choose sustainable transport options” by “simply pushing a button on their smartphones”.

Referring to road transport, Sefcovic said that we will soon see cars “talk to each other”, but for the roll-out of these new technologies, it will be necessary to set a framework for European infrastructure, including the space network.

ITS will thus climb up in the EU agenda in the coming years. Alongside, other priorities that will be very present during the mandate of the future Commissioner include the further development of the core networks corridors, steps towards a Single European Sky, and the need to overcome the current cross-border fragmentation of the railway sector by deploying modern signalling systems such as ERTMS.