Brussels, 21 Nov 2002
EU Commissioner for Research, Philippe Busquin, highlighted the importance of coordinating Europe's transport research during his opening address at the 17th annual Polis conference in Brussels on 21 November.
The conference, entitled 'promoting excellence in transport for sustainable cities and regions', aims to bring together Europe's key transport policymakers and actors in order to build partnerships and exchange strategies and research results.
In his speech, Mr Busquin emphasised the contribution of research to transport policy, saying that 'it allows new technologies and innovations to emerge to overcome the challenges facing modern transport systems.' But the Commissioner stressed that: 'European, national and regional research programmes must be coordinated to avoid fragmentation and the duplication of efforts.'
Mr Busquin assured delegates that transport was a key priority under the theme of sustainable development in the new Sixth Framework Programme (FP6). He said that FP6 would support collaborative transport projects, thus acting as a driver for increased integration of European research, but warned that as FP6 represents only five per cent of EU public research expenditure, and that a much wider effort is needed to create a single European area for transport research.
The Belgian Minister for the Economy and Scientific Research, Charles Picqué, used his address to highlight the wider consequences of transport and mobility policies in urban and regional areas. The Minister said that: 'Mobility is an essential element in the organisation of modern societies.' He stressed that whilst transport infrastructure can promote social inclusion and cohesion, if poorly planned, it could also damage society, creating urban and rural captives.'
Mr Picqué said that in order to ensure that planning is carried out effectively, more research and data is needed on the issue of mobility. He asserted that the debate on future systems of transport needs to form 'part of a wider debate on what tomorrow's cities will look like', and that the process 'cannot be the preserve of engineers and technicians, but should be based on as wide a process of consultation as possible.'
For further information about Polis, please consult the following web address: http://www.polis-online.org/home.htm