Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia today signed a memorandum of understanding for the 'Via Baltica - North' initiative to develop an experimental 5G cross-border corridor where self-driving vehicles can be tested.

Map showing the 5G cross-border corridors

Many other European countries have already made similar agreements, so now a pan-European network of 5G corridors is emerging with hundreds of kilometres of motorways. The tests will be conducted up to the stage where a car can operate itself with a driver present under certain conditions: the so-called third level (of five) of automation.

Europe is currently the biggest experimental area for 5G technology, and has ambitions to lead in large-scale testing and the early deployment of 5G infrastructure, enabling connected and automated mobility (CAM). In this context, a specific call for proposals within the 5G Public Private Partnership, with indicative funding of €50 million, has been announced for 5G projects for Connected and Automated Mobility. This will support 3 specific 5G cross-border corridors: the Brenner path between Bologna and Munich (Italy-Austria-Germany), Metz-Merzig-Luxembourg (France-Germany-Luxembourg), and Porto-Vigo and Evora-Merida (Portugal-Spain).

To further this deployment of 5G corridors on a wider scale in Europe, the Commission has proposed to increase the funding:

- €3 billion under the renewed Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) programme, as part of the next Multiannual Financial Framework (2021-2027). Part of the digital infrastructure funds will be dedicated to the establishment of 5G cross-border corridors.

- Further actions in this area will be possible under Horizon 2020 as part of the ICT-19-2019 topic dedicated to vertical applications with a total EU funding of €92 million, as well as through the forthcoming topic ICT-20 on 5G long-term evolution with a €44 million budget.

The new European 5G Observatory platform presented on 27 September 2018 by the Commission in Riga will monitor progress in the implementation of the 5G Action Plan launched in September 2016, and will provide updates on relevant market developments, including actions undertaken by the private and public sectors, in the field of 5G.  )

Background

In March 2017 in Rome, 29 European countries, members of both the EU and the European Economic Area, signed a Letter of Intent to intensify cooperation on testing of automated road transport in cross border test sites. https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/news/eu-and-eea-member-states-sign-cross-border-experiments-cooperative-connected-and-automated

In September 2017, EU countries and industry agreed to establish cross-border corridors during the round table on Connected and Automated Driving (CAD) in Frankfurt. A number of EU countries have gone on to sign or announce bilateral agreements for more corridors for testing driverless vehicles. These corridors will include border crossings and key sections of main roads.

In addition to agreements between Spain and Portugal, and Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia, on 5 September 2018 Poland and Lithuania signed a letter of intent to cooperate on technical, legal and policy of the cross-border CAM corridor 'via Baltica - South' (linking Warsaw, Kaunas, and Vilnius).