EU Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik has called for greater co-operation in road transport research and a more integrated approach to developing a cleaner, safer and smarter road transport system.
At the in Ljubljana, Slovenia in April 2008, Commissioner Potočnik emphasised the importance of co-operation. “Over the last 50 years, increasing mobility has been at the core of economic growth in the EU. However, a truly integrated approach to the road transport system is only possible through the bringing together of the research community, industry and policy-making institutions.”
The EU's economy and society are dependent on road transport, which directly accounts for 1.6% of the Union's GDP. In addition, 44% of goods are transported by lorry, and 85% of people transported in the EU are done so by car, bus or coach. Moreover, 4.5 million are people employed in the sector.
Challenges include competitive pressures, such as the availability of cheaper cars, increasing oil prices and the emergence of strong competitors. And there is a need to tackle greenhouse gas emissions and to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions from new cars to 120 g/kg by 2012, as well as the problems of road fatalities and congestion. Solving these problems is all the more difficult with freight and passenger transport set to grow.
Research has a key role in developing future road vehicles that are greener, cleaner, safer and smarter. The EU is providing €4 billion for transport-related research over the seven years of the current Research Framework Programme, and the transport sector is leading the way in research spending. Research is also being carried out by Member States into areas such as alternative fuels and hydrogen and fuel cells.
It is crucial to pool research information. A good starting point is the new Transport Research Knowledge Centre (TRKC) web portal – see Box. While more funding is undoubtedly needed for research, it is also important to use current resources more effectively. This is only possible through effective coordination.
Commissioner Potočnik’s speech to the TRA 2008 conference: http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/potocnik/news/docs/20080421_speech_transport.pdf
EU transport research under FP7: http://www.cordis.europa.eu/fp7/cooperation/transport_en.html
The Transport Research Knowledge Centre (TRKC) website was launched in April 2008 to improve access to results of the latest transport research at European and national level for policy makers, researchers and other stakeholders to stimulate knowledge transfer in the European Research Area (ERA). The TRKC also illustrates how transport research programmes and projects help develop guidelines and innovative tools to support European transport policy for sustainable mobility.
Transport research information is collected across 30 countries – the EU 27 plus Norway, Switzerland and Iceland – and from a wide variety of sources. This information covers both intermediate and final projects results. The TRKC is making more than 5500 projects searchable on the site, providing a comprehensive insight to on-going and recent transport research activities in the ERA. The TRKC is a project of the European Commission Energy and Transport Directorate-General and is funded under the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6).