Road transport stakeholders invited to Ljubljana for TRA 2008
The Second European Road Transport Research Arena will take place in Ljubljana, Slovenia, from 21 to 25 April 2008. TRA 2008 will highlight sustainable, safer and more efficient road transport, providing a meeting place for all stakeholder communities, including policy-makers, industry and research.
© Peter Gutierrez
“The road transport industry is the largest R&D investor in Europe,” says EU Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik. “It comprises many of the top research investing companies in the world, including the single largest R&D investor worldwide. It is thanks to this high investment in research and development that the European transport sector remains one of the most competitive in the world, and, to some extent, the challenge we face is to reproduce this dynamic through the whole European economy.”
The second in a series of major EU-sponsored road transport events, TRA 2008 will cover all aspects of road transport, promoting the strategic alignment of research around a shared Strategic Research Agenda (SRA), as defined by the European Road Transport Research Council (ERTRAC). Organisers include ERTRAC, the Conference of European Road Directors (CEDR), the European Commission and Slovenia’s Ministry of Transport.
“TRA 2008 will be a golden opportunity for EU road transport stakeholders and researchers,” says Potočnik, “to discuss new strategies, completing the process that began at Goteborg’s TRA 2006 of creating a true ‘European Road Transport Research Arena’. It will also coincide with the implementation phase of the seventh EU Research Framework Programme (FP7), aimed at developing new technologies for greener, safer and smarter transport systems. And this work is now more pressing than ever; we can do more to save lives on our roads, ‘climate change’ demands an urgent response, and strong competition from abroad is challenging our position in the global road transport market.”
TRA 2008 for policy
In its Green Paper on the Security of Energy Supply, the European Commission has sounded the alarm on Europe’s dependency on imported fossil fuels, a third of which are used by transport. The EU also has deep concerns about the environment and climate change.
Efficient mobility is also a key issue for policy makers. Enabling the free movement of people and goods is crucial to economic prosperity and quality of life. Unfortunately, road congestion in the EU is still on the increase, and the problem is aggravated by the fact that European roads are being used more and more to the exclusion of other transport modes such as railways and inland waterways.
The TRA 2008 conference will be a major opportunity for EU policy makers to move Europe towards better road transport. Strong Commission support for this meeting reflects the importance of road transport within the larger European agenda.
TRA 2008 for industry
European industry takes full advantage of the freedom and flexibility offered by a state-of-the-art road transport system, ensuring that European companies function efficiently and that money is made. Liberalisation of road freight regulations combined with the opening of markets in Central and Eastern Europe has led to a steady increase in road transport compared to other modes – now accounting for about 75% of traffic in the European Union and 55% in non-EU European countries.
But competitiveness in road transport also means exporting European transport-related products and services to foreign and global markets. The automotive sector is a key player in the European economy; EU car-makers, represent multi-billion-euro turnovers for Europe’s economy and millions of jobs for European citizens. The industry also spends about €19 billion per year on research and technological development, making it the largest private investor in R&D in Europe.
TRA 2008 for research
TRA 2008 will promote the strategic alignment of all road transport research activities around a shared ‘Strategic Research Agenda’ (SRA). This means merging and coordinating European, national, regional and private research actions, and improving the networking, clustering and pooling of research and development capacities.
Janez Božič, Minister of Transport of the Republic of Slovenia, says, “TRA 2008 will present long-term perspectives through results of on-going research projects, where visions and ideas intertwine with short-term activities. All this is very important for the Republic of Slovenia, as we are doing our best to direct investments into transport infrastructure in a way that will serve the needs of our own and future generations.”
Potočnikreturns, “For me, TRA 2008 is especially significant, as it will take place in my home country of Slovenia under Slovenian Presidency, which will consider safer and more efficient road transport a major priority. I know I speak for all the organisers when I say we hope to see you in force in Ljubljana in April 2008.”