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Toespraak European Automobile Manufacturers' Association - Autoworld

Dear members of the European Commission and of the European Parliament,Mr. President,Ladies and Gentlemen,The 'Our Future Mobility Now' project marks the 125th anniversary of the invention of the automobile, an invention that has given rise to great progress and growth. Today the automotive sector is an elementary part of the manufacturing industry in the EU. Europe is the world's largest vehicle producer. The auto industry provides high-skilled jobs to 2.3 million Europeans and indirectly supports another 10 million families.The four workshops organized by ACEA (“Skills for the Future”, “New Mobility Services”, “Future Technologies” and “Urban Communities Tomorrow” in the context of the project “Our Future Mobility Now”), to which students from more than fifteen different nationalities participated resulted in an inspiring Book of Ideas.This book is a first concrete result of 'Our Future Mobility Now' initiative, and already contains inspiring ideas. But generating great ideas and setting ambitious goals, won’t be enough to shape the mobility that we need to ensure future sustainable growth. We need to leverage these ideas and goals with concrete societal, political and industrial support.This book is the start of a real dialogue about the mobility solutions of tomorrow and invites today’s youth to take part in shaping their own future world. This kind of initiative is necessary to motivate our youth to meet future challenges. Therefore I plead to embed these initiatives in our European education system. We could do so by organizing in the near future project driven courses or even postgraduate master’s programs (here in Brussels) on Europe’s different future challenges. ACEA’s initiative “Our Future Mobility Now” could serve as a blue print to kick off a high flying postgraduate program on future mobility challenges.Ladies and Gentlemen,125 years ago the first cars started to drive on roads fit for horse and carriage but unfit for cars. Although road infrastructure in Europe is fit for current car types, there are bottlenecks and missing links which hamper economic transactions and limit the further deepening of the internal market. In future these problems will only grow bigger and one should think about our mobility and infrastructure needs for the coming fifty years. In the same way as we think about energy production and networks, we should develop initiatives for smart, competitive and sustainable mobility and infrastructure. These initiatives should take into account the different modes of transport and how they can be best combined to meet the different needs of industry and civil society across Europe.Just as in energy we cannot put all our cards on mobility and forget about infrastructure or vice versa. It is obvious that for example the smartness of our future networks depends on the capabilities of, for example, cars and trucks to communicate with one-another and with the ICT applications that direct traffic across the network.The white paper on a Roadmap for a Single European Transport Area – Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system contains a lot of interesting ideas. It acknowledges that infrastructure and mobility are intertwined and makes good suggestions and lists a number of worthwhile policy initiatives that Belgium supports. What is missing however, is an industrial policy.The European Commission should not only set ambitious goals, make action plans and leave member states and industry implement them, if necessary guided by directives and other rules. The Commission should be actively investing in solutions in close collaboration with industry.Ladies and Gentleman,I have touched upon a broader issue. Today, we are at a cross-road. Member States need to consolidate their public finances and correct their macro-economic imbalances. This is painful but necessary. Yet, this should not be the end of the story. Europe should complement these measures with efforts of its own. The European Commission should roll out an industrial agenda which invests in the competitiveness of European industry. The European Commission should invest in cross border infrastructure, it should invest in R&D and it should invest in innovation and commercialization of ideas. It should invest not only because Member States cannot at the current juncture but because Europe is the right scale to invest for big scale projects like the car or the plane of the future. In collaboration with industry the European Commission should look at projects big and small in which Europe can excel and can gain competitive advantage.To wrap up: we need an industrial policy which complements targets and regulations, with European money and collaboration. This is a clear message which I also intend to bring today and tomorrow to my colleagues at the European Council.