Digitalisation and sustainability - imperatives for the future development of the transport sector

News from Brussels

Source: EU2020HR, 2020-06-04

At their third informal video conference, EU transport ministers discussed a sustainable and digital recovery of the transport sector after the COVID-19 outbreak.

The meeting was chaired by Oleg Butković, Croatian Minister for the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure. The Commission was represented by Commissioner Adina Vălean.

In the discussion, ministers were invited to reflect on initiatives and investments which are the most urgent for a sustainable and digital recovery and which can make the sector more resilient, and the best short to medium-term and long-term tools to meet these objectives.

"Working towards recovery, we now have the opportunity to speed up the greening of our transport sector, which will give a boost to our industry. The financial package for recovery, which the Commission presented, is larger than ever, and it is important that the transport sector is widely represented in the discussions on the new budget. Our sector is vital for the EU economy, global trade, but also overall climate ambition."  said Oleg Butković, Croatian Minister for the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure

In the discussion, ministers reaffirmed the importance of a coordinated approach both in introducing measures to stop the spread of the virus and applying the exit strategy, and in securing the recovery. They welcomed the tourism and transport package presented by the Commission in May, which includes useful guidelines for the transport sector.

In the context of the situation in air transport, the general consensus today is that it is the sector hardest hit by this crisis, but this should not be an excuse to reduce our environmental ambition. In road transport, international passenger transport is particularly affected. Ministers recognize the need to coordinate protective health measures during the period of its gradual revival, as well as that the gradual opening of borders should not lead to discrimination or affect the rules of fair market competition. It was emphasized that the protective measures in the midst of the pandemic, had a significant negative effect on the sector which will now need financial assistance.

For the maritime sector, the EU efforts at the international level on emission reductions and on other aspects important for sustainable development is crucial. On the EU level, investments in port infrastructure for alternative fuels and new supply methods in general will be important as well as research and development of new technological solutions for the autonomous vessels.

In addition, today’s meeting highlighted the topic of concern for seafarers, in the covid-19 context, but otherwise so that their education is in line with technological progress and the development of autonomous vessel management systems.

Finally, ministers called for a coordinated and balanced recovery strategy for transport, which will combine the imperative protection of public health with operational and economic recovery. This strategy would need to be made concrete in the coming weeks.

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