Transport and mobility play a fundamental role in today’s world. Representing 6.3% of the EU’s GDP and employing nearly 13 million people, this sector is also one of Europe’s most valuable ones. The industry is therefore a key driver of economic growth and sustainability. Building a ‘smart, green and integrated transport network’ constitutes one of the six Societal Challenges. The European Commission aims at the promotion of efficient, safe, secure and environmentally friendly mobility and creation of the conditions for a competitive industry generating growth and jobs. This, however, can only be guaranteed if Europe stays at the cutting-edge of transport R&D.

The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE) works in concert with the European Union Member States, European industry, citizens and stakeholders. It participates in the financing of the horizontal research activities (CORDISCOSTEurekaERA-NET) and shares the management responsibility with the DG Research & Innovation. Currently, it also coordinates a cross-disciplinary team preparing the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) Smart Cities and Communities aiming to help cities and communities, business and civil society to implement smart city solutions across the sectors energy, transport and ICT at much greater scale and speed and to improve services while reducing energy and resource consumption, greenhouse gas (GHG) and other polluting emissions.  

Horizon 2020, the EU research funding programme for the years 2014-2020, will address transport as an integrated system, however not ignoring its specifics of the different modes (rail, road, waterborne and air transport), particularly where there is a need to achieve technological breakthroughs. Attention is given to both, technology and in relevant socio-economic research. Actions will focus on four areas:

  • Resource-efficient transport;
  • Better mobility, less congestion, more safety and security;
  • Global leadership for the European transport industry; and,
  • Socio-economic research and forward-looking activities for future policy making.

Horizon 2020's funding of transport research and innovation will complement Member States' investment by focusing on activities with a clear European added-value. More specifically, emphasis will be placed on priority areas that match European policy objectives. The proposed budget for transport research is €7.7 billion, which is the equivalent of 9% of the total Horizon 2020 budget, with 23 % of the budget being reserved for tackling societal challenges.

The work carried out in the framework of the Strategic Transport Technology Plan (STTP) will contribute to focusing the transport European research and innovation activities through Horizon 2020.

Following a long tradition in working together to promote strong economic growth (pursued through multilateral and bilateral mechanisms), at the 2004 Summit in Shannon, Ireland, the EU and the United States committed themselves to strengthen economic partnership. With regards to energy and transport, they agreed to “work together to enhance trade and transport security while facilitating the movement of people and goods and to develop and help disseminate energy efficiency technologies”. It was also agreed to continue cooperation on the development of the hydrogen economy based on the joint statement agreed at the 2003 Summit.

At the Washington Summit in June 2005, the EU and the US launched an initiative to enhance transatlantic economic integration and growth  including air cargo traffic and air transport security as well as a declaration to cooperate on energy security, energy efficiency, renewables and economic development. As a follow-up, a joint EU-US Work Programme  and a common EU platform were set up in November 2005 during the EU-US first informal economic ministerial meeting.

At the June 2006 Vienna Summit, the EU and the US presented a joint declaration  to strengthen their strategic partnership. It was agreed to redouble efforts to conclude a first stage air transport agreement and also to enhance cooperation on the legal framework governing the transfer of air passengers’ data.

Cooperation in Transport Research between the EU and the USA

At the EU-U.S. Joint Consultative Group Meeting on Science and Technology Cooperation on February, 2013, the European Commission and the U.S. Department of Transportation signed an agreement to boost cooperation in transport research. This agreement is designed to foster research into new cross-cutting technologies that will improve transportation systems and maintain competitiveness of both sides.

With regards to the transportation research, the Meeting has been concentrated on the following areas:

  • development of highway infrastructures,
  • road safety,
  • traffic management,
  • freight logistics and other areas

On May 30-31 in Washington, during the first EU-U.S. Transportation Research Symposium named ‘City Logistics : A Transatlantic Perspective’, the EU and the US have led the way for closer cooperation in research in the field of transport. Fifty researchers from both sides have discussed and exchanged views on the transport of goods in urban areas. In total, four annual meetings are scheduled, two in the USA, two in Europe. The objective of these meetings is to create a culture of transatlantic collaboration through better communication between researchers.