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European road transport research advisory council european road transport 2020 a vision and strategic research agenda

ERTRAC is the European Technology Platform on road transport research. This action is aiming at a better alignment of European, national and private research activities for more economic efficiency, quality of results and reduced time to applying innovation. It is ERTRAC’s mission to explore these opportunities and make specific recommendations for implementation. ERTRAC’s inclusion of all major road transport actors makes it unique and allows a truly holistic and integrated view of road transport issues.

Tags: Road


Over € 28 billion are spent each year on R&D in Europe’s road transport sector. This sector employs more than 9% of the entire EU workforce, generating a turnover that amounts to 20% of the Union’s GDP. Road transport supplies the majority of mobility services demanded by Europe’s citizens and businesses. It is responsible for over 75% of inland freight transport and, as such, plays a crucial role in all European industrial and commercial activities. The importance of road transport is also reflected in a number of high-level policy initiatives, aimed at strengthening the European automotive industry, for which research is a mainstay.

Today R&D activities are largely managed within individual stakeholder groups and the Member States. It is apparent that a good alignment between European and national, as well as between private and public research activities, can provide major benefits in terms of economic efficiency, quality of results and reduced time to application of innovation.

In line with the European objectives for competitiveness and sustainability, ERTRAC involves all the main stakeholders in the road transport sector and fosters structured, optimised and integrated R&D efforts across European programmes.


The ERTRAC approach is key to addressing Europe’s road transport challenges successfully and effectively, for both today and tomorrow.

ERTRAC’s objectives include:

  • providing a strategic vision of European road transport in 2020 and beyond, particularly with respect to R&D
  • defining priorities agreed by all stakeholders
  • aligning European and national research agendas and programmes
  • monitoring progress and adjusting research road maps accordingly
  • providing a platform for ongoing research alignment and co-operation
  • making specific recommendations for large cross-stakeholder research
  • identifying needs for international and global co-operation.

Description of work

The overall objective of the ERTRAC Coordination Action is to provide the management and organisational support together with administrative and technical input, which is required to facilitate ERTRAC in its assessment of European road transport research needs and the formulation of the strategic research agenda (SRA) and its implementation.

The ERTRAC documents are structured according to four main research areas supporting two fundamental aspects of the road sector. The first is the need to provide for free movement of people and the transport of goods, in line with the key objectives of the European Union, both at local and intra-regional levels. This is reflected in the sections for Mobility, Transport and Infrastructure, Safety and Security as well as Environment, Energy and Resources.

The second is the competitiveness of the European industry, addressed in the section Design and Production. The documents were developed through extensive and intense workshops and reviews throughout the sector, involving more than a hundred actors.


In November 2003, the Plenary agreed the basic structure of ERTRAC, which involves all the relevant stakeholders in European road transport. In June 2004, the Vision 2020 was published as a brochure and widely circulated, and in December 2004, the strategic research agenda was published. Both are available as a download from the website. In 2005, the main tasks were the discussion and elaboration of a research framework for 2007-2015, which is based on the Vision and the SRA. The objective is the provision of useful input for planning of the Seventh Framework Programme, as well as for planning national activities. It was published in April 2006 (see the synopses for ERTRAC II).

Furthermore, an overview of national road transport research activities in Europe was initiated, covering 17 countries.

All documents are available as free downloads from the ERTRAC website:

To conclude, ERTRAC could successfully establish a European platform with the leading stakeholders in road transport research and development.