Speech minister Schultz at the first EU Conference on connected and automated driving

“The interest in connected and automated driving is gaining momentum. Large-scale cross-border testing is the only way to gather the right knowledge. Numerous small-scale test have been carried out. Now is the time to bring cross-border testing to a higher level.” That said minister Schultz, Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment, at the first EU Conference on Connected and Automated Driving in Brussels on 4 April 2017.

Good morning ladies and gentlemen.
I’d like to start by saying how delighted I am to have been asked to open the second day of this conference.
The first EU Conference on connected and automated driving: a topic that’s close to my heart!
It ties in with all the promising opportunities we have to make traffic safer, smarter and cleaner.
It ties in with an EU-wide movement to develop this new form of transport.
It ties in with our ambitions and our desire to move forward.
And we need your expertise and input to make it happen!

On 14 April 2016, almost a year ago, I hosted the informal meeting of European transport ministers in Amsterdam.
It was the first time connected and automated driving was discussed at political level.
It was a day that marked the first step towards an international agenda.
All the EU transport ministers and major European car manufacturers signed the Declaration of Amsterdam.
Pledging their commitment to a shared ambition…
Their commitment to a joint effort…

Making agreements on cooperation, on learning by doing, and on sharing and expanding knowledge to ensure interoperability of systems and services.

We sent out a clear message: the EU welcomes this new era in transport and wants to take the lead on new developments.

Is this truly a revolution in transport?
Haven’t we stood on the brink of a new transport era before? 
Yes we have: 120 years ago: the emergence of the car.
Then, too, a new technology was about to transform society in a radical way.
Then, too, there were pioneers, new technologies and a growing need for international cooperation.
Europe needed new roads in those days.
Experiments were carried out independently. With different materials, in different countries.
The surface of choice, after three European conferences, was asphalt.
The rise of cars changed more than our roads. It also changed our society.
And I believe this is about to happen again.

Over the past year, interest in connected and automated driving has really taken off.
A great deal has happened since we signed the Declaration of Amsterdam.
Now, every car manufacturer is investing in self-driving vehicles.
The European Commission has launched a strategy on C-ITS and is working on a roadmap… It’s also linked up the transport and telecom sectors.
A number of member states have made changes to their legislation, or are working on that. Like Germany, France, Finland, Sweden and my own country.
There have been several trials. And we’re working hard to update European type-approval.

And last but not least, active member states started a regular dialogue on this topic, in the form of High-Level Meetings.
The Netherlands hosted the first High-Level Meeting in February. With participants from 24 EU member states, Norway and Switzerland, and all European organizations from the automotive and telecom sectors.

The agreements we’ve made are promising.
Like sharing data. There’s an agreement between government and the car industry to share data. About roadworks, weather conditions, hazards and lots more.
A public-private taskforce has been set up to explore the best way to set this up.
Five countries offered to hold a High-Level Meeting in the future. Now that’s saying something!
And progress has been made at global level as well.
I am talking about the Vienna and Geneva Conventions on Road Traffic.
Two weeks ago the Global Forum for Road Traffic Safety decided on a new approach to these conventions.
The Forum will draw up guidance on automated driving for both Conventions.
And the Forum decided on a broader definition of the driver’s role. Because it doesn’t need to be limited to just steering! The driver can take the hands of the steering wheel!
This is crucial recognition that the vehicles of the future will be able to take over certain tasks from drivers, if this can be done safely by the vehicle.
This recognition is a game changer and paves the way for more innovation!

So a lot’s happened. We’re making progress.
But we need to keep looking ahead.
There’s still plenty to do, if we want to keep innovating in EU transport.
I’d like to mention two things.

First, our regulations could be more dynamic and forward-looking.
Right now, all eyes are on self-driving cars.
But we’re also seeing new forms of transport appearing:
drones,
hyperloops,
autonomous boats,
self-flying taxis.
There’s also growing interest in new forms of transport services.
Like buying a ticket to go from A to B, regardless of whether that journey is by car, train, bus or metro.

So, I’d like to ask you:
Do we really need to draw up new regulations for every new form of transport?
Do we really need to keep making exceptions and granting exemptions?
Isn’t it time for rules on transport, rather than modes of transport?
And rules that can facilitate new services?
I know Finland is working on an interesting transport code. Perhaps it could serve as a model for the next step.

The second point I want to make is about learning by doing.
Trials on public roads are crucial. There’s been plenty of small-scale testing.
But now we need to take it to a higher level: it’s time to create a cross-border proving ground.
The EU provided a new incentive for this two weeks ago.
The Letter of Intent that European leaders signed at the EU’s 60th anniversary celebration in Rome fully supports large-scale cross-border trials.
So let’s do it!
I’m working with Germany and Austria to make the Rotterdam-Vienna corridor suitable for truck platooning. I’m willing to use this corridor for new cross-border trials.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Things are really moving in the EU.
We’ve set an ambitious target: we want to be ready for connected and self-driving transport by 2019.
We need your knowledge, your experience and your enthusiasm to make that a reality. And to look beyond that goal.
We live in exciting times.
So I expect great outcomes from this first EU Conference, and the conferences yet to come!
Thank you.