An opening vote among the participants revealed that they associate the word “EU” mainly with collaboration and cooperation.
In her opening remarks, referring to the results of the vote, the Commissioner Bulc said that these two words are extremely important for the future of the EU and that only through cooperation and collaboration we can ensure sustainable development for ourselves. She also noted that although the EU has the most dynamic investment environment in the world it is also facing serious challenges. These challenges happen in such a congested way that if it was not for collaboration and cooperation, probably the EU would not exist anymore.
In response to the moderator’s question about the results of her meeting with the Italian Minister for Infrastructure, Toninelli, the Commissioner said that she went to Genova with 3 very clear goals:
- pay tribute to all those who lost lives and tell families that we care;
- hear from regional and local authorities what are their needs and where EU can help;
- clearly state where the EU can already help today in order to address the needs of the region and of the city, to reconnect back with the European Transport area and to reconnect in the city and in the region.
Replying to the question how the EC intends to reach the objective of Zero deaths on the roads by 2050, the Commissioner said that this question is one of the most emotional parts in her agenda. She explained that the EC has done a good job decreasing the number of deaths by 50% and it intends to half it again by 2030. It will be done by speeding up the deployment of technologies, change of behaviour, smart infrastructure and, hopefully by moving to automated cars and autonomous cars by 2050. She underlined, however, that the achievement of this goal depends on all of us and in particular on young people, as over 90% of accidents happen because of human behaviour.
Talking about transport policy, the Commissioner said that trains are the priority for the EU and explained why 70% of investments in the period 2014 – 2020 are made in railways. She also said that by June next year the EC would replace 14000 local based rules by less than 4000 European ones, which means that European railways would be much more standardised. The EC is also paving the way for a high level of digitalisation of European rules: by 2040 all the core corridors should have a modern signalling system (ERTMS). In the next financial period 2020-2027, the EC proposed again very heavy investments in railways to ensure that they are fit for purpose.
Replying to the question about EC activities to improve safety of European infrastructure, the Commissioner said that the EC together with MS agreed to start investing specifically in the improvement of safety of roads in Europe. She added that the EC already had a first open call for projects to improve cross sections between railways and roads and to continue to deploy cooperative intelligent transport systems for roads (C-ITS). The EC has also a cooperation within C-ITS and C-roads but the most important is the EC 3-pillar system approach to the road safety: vehicles, infrastructure and behaviour. She explained in details EU initiatives under each pillar.
Talking about autonomous mobility, the Commissioner noted that we have four phases of developing this technology: connected, cooperative, automated and autonomous mobility. She said that by 2030 we will have all technologies available for connected, cooperative and automated vehicles, but there won’t be a full scale autonomous mobility on the European roads.
She added that the EU also has a European regulatory framework for use of drones and flying cars. EC is also working on U-space, urban aviation space, which will allow the integration of these new mobility solutions into overall transport solutions. By the end of next year the EU will have the first concept of the full-fledged urban aviation mobility management system and it will be a matter of years to fully deploy it.
In the end of the dialogue, the Commissioner shared a story how the youth mobility came about. During her first citizens’ dialogue in Slovenia a boy stood up and asked her what she was going to do about the youth mobility. At that time she had no answer but she promised to have a look at it together with her Cabinet back in Brussels. This is how the idea of vouchers came about. Now the project is called “Discover Europe” and is managed by DG EAC. It is still in a pilot stage but the objective is to allow every young person to travel around Europe. She invited all young people to send her their ideas how to further develop this project. She said “It does make sense to raise issues, to ask questions to propose ideas because we listen and if we can we deliver.”
The event in Milan was part of a series of Citizens' Dialogues that involve the whole European Commission and take place in all EU Member States.