18 June 2020

Digitization and sustainability – imperatives for the future development of the transport sector

At their third informal video conference, EU transport ministers discussed 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, while the Commission was represented by Commissioner, Adina Vălean.

During the discussion ministers were invited to reflect on initiatives and investments, which are the most urgent for sustainable and digital recovery, and which can not only provide guidances to adjust the sector, to become more resilient, but also to secure 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.‘ – Minister Oleg Butković said.

During discussion the transport ministers reaffirmed the importance of coordinated approach, both in introducing measures to stop the spread of the virus and applying the exit strategy, and also the necessary measures to secure the recovery. Ministers welcomed the tourism and the transport package, presented by the Commission in May, which includes useful guidelines for the transport sector. Due to situation in the air transport, the general consensus is that this sector had been hit by the corona crisis hardest of all, but it should not be an excuse to reduce the European environmental ambition. International passenger transport is particularly affectedn in the road transport sector. Ministers recognized the need to coordinate protective health measures during the period of its gradual revival, as well as that the gradual opening of borders, wich should not lead to discrimination, nor affect the rules of fair market competition. It was emphasized that the protective measures in the midst of the pandemic, had significant negative effect on the sector, which will need financial assistance, now.

In maritime sector the EU efforts on emission reductions and on other aspects important for sustainable development, at the international level, is crucial. 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 the new technological solutions for the autonomous vessels. In addition, today’s meeting highlighted the topic of concern for seafarers, in covid-19 context, so that their education is in line with technological progress and development of the autonomous vessel management systems.

Finally, ministers called for coordinated and balanced recovery strategy in transport sector, 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.

Source: Ministry of Sea, Transport and Infrastructure of Croatia