ERTICO interviews Gzim Ocakoglu European Commission Directorate-General for Transport and Mobility (DG MOVE)


ERTICO: Why is the ITS Directive important for the European citizen?

Gzim Ocakoglu: Making transport greener reducing congestion and saving lifes on Europe’s roads are top priorities for the Commission and Intelligent Transport Systems can help us make progress towards achieving these goals.

ITS applications such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC) or emergency call (eCall) have the potential to save many lives on European roads while the use of communication and navigation technologies notably for real-time traffic information can ensure better route planning and help avoiding delays caused by traffic jams. 

The use of ITS in road transport in Europe is however still uneven. A patchwork of national regional and local solutions is slowing down overall deployment and fails to provide a seamless service.

The ITS Action Plan adopted in December 2008 has defined the areas and specific actions to be addressed to remove the existing barriers hampering faster better coordinated and more harmonised use of ITS services and applications in Europe.

The ITS Directive which was proposed together with the ITS Action Plan and which was eventually adopted in July 2010 is the very fundamental element of the framework for the deployment of Intelligent Transport Systems in the field of road transport and for interfaces with other modes. As a first regulatory framework instrument adopted in Europe in the area of ITS for roads it provides for legal certainty and coordination for the implementation of ITS in Europe. It aims to establish interoperable and seamless ITS services while leaving Member States the freedom to decide which systems to invest in.

ERTICO: Is there a danger that regulation on ITS will slow down innovation because stakeholders will be mandated to use certain technologies?

Gzim Ocakoglu: Over the past 20 years the European Commission has been boosting innovation in ITS by supporting research and development (with a considerable budget through the successive RTD Framework Programmes) by promoting standardisation by funding the deployment of ITS across Europe (through the TEN-T programme and Regional Funds) and adopting policy recommendations. However while recognising that technology and many specific systems seem to be mature today ITS acceptance and market penetration have remained largely fragmented and relatively limited.

To address the patchwork of national regional and local solutions and a rather low degree of interoperability between solutions not even mentioning the quasi-absence of seamless ITS services the Commission decided in 2008 with the ITS Action Plan and the proposal for the ITS Directive to take new policy measures including a regulatory approach. While continuing to support innovation in ITS through new research projects under FP7 further standardisation efforts and continued funding for deployment the Commission will contribute to lift the uncertainty and barriers to an effective wider deployment of ITS by establishing the required legal framework in which ITS can be developed and later deployed.

Rather than slowing down innovation the specifications to be adopted under the ITS Directive will make more precise only when needed and relevant the technical organisational functional or service-related provisions that will ensure the interoperability of systems and continuity of services across Europe.

ERTICO: Will you safeguard existing investments in ITS services which might not fulfil specifications developed in the context of the ITS Directive?

Gzim Ocakoglu: Relying notably on the ITS Committee and the ITS Advisory Group the Commission will prepare the required specifications after consultation with experts from the Member States but also taking into account the advice of all stakeholders considering where appropriate the existing standards and after  conducting an impact assessment including a cost-benefit analysis. The specifications should also comply with a series of principles provided for in Annex II of the Directive and including notably the proportionality the cost efficiency the support of backward compatibility the respect of existing national infrastructure and network characteristics. This is precisely meant to take into account the possible impacts of new specifications on existing systems.

ERTICO: How important will be the issue of multi-modality in the context of your work?

Gzim Ocakoglu: The ITS action Plan and the ITS Directive address the deployment of intelligent transport systems in the field of road transport and for interfaces with other transport modes.

From the onset some of the areas to be addressed by our actions covered the needed information exchange points between different modes of transport for a more efficient passenger or freight transport. The development of multimodal journey planners the provision of EU-wide real-time traffic and travel information services the identification of ITS services in support of eFreight or the definition of a multi-modal European ITS framework architecture are some of the actions where the multi-modal dimension will be specifically addressed.

In many parts of Europe ITS technologies are already being used to improve transport management operations and facilitate interchange between modes – notably between road and rail. ITS can clearly make it easier to link the modes. Multi-modality will be central in our work especially for the transport of goods with eFreight and for passenger transport with the development of seamless multi-modal travel information and integrated ticketing systems. The concept of “integrated European travel planning” is of particular importance for Vice-President Kallas who last year at the International Transport Forum in Leipzig called on stakeholders to come up with real Europe-wide travel planning solutions. A follow-up to this call can be expected this year.

For more information on the activities of the European Commission Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE) or to download any of the above mentioned documents please visit the website by clicking here.


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Original Publication Date: Fri 25 Mar 2011