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Transport Research Arena 2008

State of the Art - Background

At the Lisbon European Council in March 2000, a new strategic goal was set for the EU for the coming decade: 'to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion'. To achieve this goal, the EC stressed the importance of creating a common European Research Area (ERA), which would lead towards an innovative society capable of competing with the world.

In the area of road transport, a number of strategic documents exist that support this policy. In 2004 ERTRAC, the European Road Transport Research Advisory Council, prepared two documents which describe the required breakthrough technologies and research demands for a sustainable road transport system in the future: the Vision 2020 and Challenges and the Strategic Research Agenda. In 2006 ERTRAC published its Research Framework, which was the background document for the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) in the area of road transport. For road infrastructure, the ERTRAC's documents were fed with concepts and proposals from FEHRL (Forum of European national Highway Research Laboratories) and CEDR (Conference of European Directors for Roads).

To promote these concepts, the Transport Research Arena (TRA) conferences were established.


The main objectives of the TRA conferences are:

- to provide tools for dissemination of research results from the entire area of road transport;

- to bring together researchers, industry, end-users and policy-makers;

- to facilitate the presentation of EC (co)financed research projects, not only through presentations in sessions, but also through organising workshops and seminars for the day following the conference;

- to raise the profile of European transport research and its contributions to both European and international society.

This project has been structured to produce mechanisms that will properly involve people from the new Member States (NMS) and non-EU countries who were not sufficiently involved in the ERA in the past with these activities. Its key objectives are:

- to upgrade the TRA 2008 web platform for these countries;

- to organise sessions dedicated to these countries;

- to establish and maintain the database of stakeholders from these countries;

- to provide dedicated dissemination and advertising material;

- to conduct an awareness raising campaign throughout the new Member States and non-EU countries and provide sponsorship opportunities for experts.

This CSA will provide substantial Community added value through strong interactions between all stakeholders that contribute to or benefit from road transport research.

Description of Work

The work of the project was organised around four work packages (WP).

- WP1: Management: coordination of the project.

- WP2: Programme: worked closely with the conference Programme Committee to prepare a well structured technical programme, attractive to NMS and non-EU countries, and presented, with the Organising Committee, the NMS-related programme on the Internet and in printed materials. The coordination of additional NMS' and non-EU European countries' activities on the day after the official closing of the TRA2008 conference was also carried out here.

- WP3: NMS, Candidate Countries (CC) and other countries: provided the means to increase the number of participants from the NMS, CC and International Co-operation Partner Countries, particularly from the Western Balkans. It organised and maintained a mailing list of over 3 000 addresses and organised a competition to bring participants from these countries.

- WP4: Dissemination and awareness raising: reinforced the profile of TRA as a major European and internationally important conference in accordance with the TRA mission and assisted the conference committees on all issues related to dissemination and promotion of TRA2008.

Expected Results

During TRA2008, a session on 'Specific New Member States and Candidate Countries' issues' was organised. This was one of only nine strategic sessions which outlined the importance placed on issues related to NMS. It was chaired by Mrs Luisa Prista, Head of DG RTD?s Surface Transport Unit. Experiences of four projects from FP6 were presented which had been coordinated by NMS organisations: CERTAIN, SPENS, ARCHES and TransSLO. The feedback from the session was very positive. NMS and non-EU researchers expressed strong interest for better involvement with ERA but several obstacles remain, such as insufficient national support for implementation or results and lack of co-funding for research projects from national resources.

The number of participants from the NMS and non-EU countries was increased. This was done through extensive publicity, both printed and electronic, and through organising a competition, which, from the budget of this project, financially supported 75 eligible delegates. As a result of all the activities, 217 delegates were from Slovenia and 152 from other NMS and non-EU countries came to Ljubljana, around 20 times more than at TRA2006 in Goteborg (SW).

TRA and its NMS activities were actively promoted at ten international events, and in a special brochure dedicated to NMS and other non-EC countries that was sent to 3 000 electronic and 800 mailing addresses.

TRA 2008 - Special session for NMS and non-EU countries
TRA 2008 - Special session for NMS and non-EU countries