Brussels, 04 June 2002
'There is no future without research, and Europe can't equip itself with the necessary innovative solutions if it doesn't invest sufficiently in this area,' said EU Research Commissioner, opening the 'Surface transport technologies for sustainable development' conference in Valencia, Spain on 3 June.
Mr Busquin told his audience that if nothing is done now, the volume of freight transport will have increased by 38 per cent, and passengers by 24 per cent by 2010, 'probably bringing road transport to a point close to paralysis.' This will be accompanied by an increase in environmental damage and accidents, he added.
As well as increasing investment, Europe has to improve the efficiency of its research policies, said Mr Busquin. 'The European research area [ERA] project was launched precisely with this aim, since it aims for the optimisation of community, national and private resources and actions,' he said.
Mr Busquin said that he was pleased to see that the concept of ERA had been well understood in the transport research community. 'It only remains to translate this into actions,' he said.
The Commissioner spoke of the importance of advisory boards, such as ACARE (aeronautics research) and ERRAC (railways research), saying that they allow better identification of priorities.
Speaking of technological evolutions, he suggested that now would be a good time to establish a large technological platform on fuel cells and what is sometimes called the 'hydrogen economy'. 'It should gather together all the actors, industrialists, institutional representatives, researchers and users involved in this technologically essential development,' he said. He also called for the creation of other platforms, uniting all parties involved in technologies 'crucial for our future mobility.'
Mr Busquin said he expects important evolutions in the area of sustainable surface transport with the arrival of new materials, new technologies and new services such as Galileo, Europe's satellite navigation system. A reduction in noise and CO2 emissions and an improvement in security and performance will be the priorities, said the Commissioner.
'The political will combined with the opportunities offered by research and technology should enable the necessary rebalancing of modes of transports,' said Mr Busquin. 'But this will be ineffectual if it is not supported by scientific and technological excellence, strong cooperation and real coordination between national efforts,' he said.