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Politicians from the national parliaments and the European Parliament were in Tallinn today to discuss ways to improve Europe’s transport connections through innovative technology. The high-level transport conference took place in the framework of the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the EU.

The President of the Riigikogu Eiki Nestor said in his words of welcome that transport must remain a priority of the European Union because it is a driver of economic growth that will also help to improve Europe’s competitiveness.

The European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said that the key words for the future of transport are sharing, pooling and cleanness, which means an important reduction in the use of carbon based fuels.

The negative aspect of transport, as cited by Bulc, is the fact that 70 people lose their lives and 350 are injured daily in European traffic; over EUR 100 billion a year are spent on their rehabilitation. Developing the infrastructure will help to reduce these numbers, while also reducing the noise level and air pollution which are harmful for human health.

The conference was chaired by the Chairman of the Economic Affairs Committee Sven Sester who said that the introduction of innovative means of transport, including the hydrogen trains, fully automated ocean-faring ships, or Hyperloop One presented at the conference, require huge amounts of preliminary studies and updated legislation.

The Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Transport and Tourism Karima Delli admitted that at the EU legislative level, questions related to self-driving cars and drones remain to be regulated. For example, who would be held responsible in case of any accidents. At the same time, she warned against neglecting to update the existing infrastructure in addition to introducing novel solutions.

The Director-General of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport Henrik Hololei listed security and creating the missing connections as the main aspects of connecting Europe, but these must be accompanied by reducing emissions and increasing digitalisation.

Another topic was the better planning of flight connections in Europe. Connectivity index has been developed for a better planning of air connections; it should help to plan policies, and optimise investments and funding.

Hololei said that flying has become cheaper, more secure, and more environmentally friendly. He said that the European aviation market has been open for a full 25 years, with the number of passenger having grown consistently and reaching one billion this year.

Sester commented on how connections continually speed up over time. While 300 years ago it took weeks to travel from Tallinn to Lisbon, 30 years ago it would have been completely impossible because of political reasons, today the flight takes a few hours, and in the future it could take only minutes.

Riigikogu Press Service
Epp-Mare Kukemelk
+372 631 6356, +372 515 3903
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