At the beginning of March, we were delighted to welcome Director-General Henrik Hololei (DG MOVE) for one of our most highly-anticipated events so far this year. Mr Hololei addressed a packed room of our members, leading an excellent discussion on the priorities of DG MOVE over the next few years, with a particular focus on in the area of connected mobility.
New and emerging mobility technologies have the potential to revolutionise the transport industry, and are one of the biggest and most important pillars of the European Green Deal. Without transport reforms it will be impossible to meet the 2050 carbon neutrality target, as well as many other aims and objectives set out by Ms von der Leyen earlier this year. Therefore, DG MOVE expect to be incredibly active during the transition to a more sustainable economy, in another demonstration of the Commission’s attempts to ‘break the silos’ both between and within each DG.
While climate and sustainability reforms are undoubtedly the key focus of DG MOVE in the coming years, it must be stressed that this will not detract from the permanent priority of Safety. No new technologies will be fully implemented until the Commission are certain that there will be no negative impact on the safety of travellers and workers alike. The most obvious and trickiest example of this is the introduction of driverless cars. While the technology has existed for a while now, Europe and the rest of the world still have much more work to do before the necessary health and safety requirements are met for it to be integrated into our day-to-day lives. Technology such as this also raises legal questions by creating a whole new landscape for consumer/manufacturer liability and regulations.
Another potential roadblock to overcome is the fact that every European citizen would like to travel as efficiently and cheaply as possible, yet most do not want to live near any transport infrastructure such as airports and train stations. The importance of this issue is exacerbated by the already maximised capacity of many transport systems, particularly air travel.
The European Commission will have to work with the transport and connected mobility industries to find creative solutions to these issues, and at this early stage there certainly seems to be no shortage of motivation and enthusiasm on all sides to do so. Of course, concrete progress is currently hindered by the spread of Covid-19, and we have yet to see the full scale of the knock-on economic effect on the transport sector. The economic impact could significantly derail plans and scale down the priority being placed on connected mobility, particularly given that the airlines are expected to take some of the biggest hits as a result of the pandemic. For now, our advice to members interested in this policy area is simply ‘watch this space’!
Director General, DG MOVE | European Commission
Henrik is 49 years old, an economist by training and holds degree from TalTech (Tallinn Technical University). He has also studied in Aarhus University in Denmark. On October 2015 he became Director-General for Mobility and Transport in the European Commission. Before he began to work in the Commission, Henrik held various positions in the Estonian Government Office between 1995 and 2004 and was mainly responsible for coordinating the work for the Estonian accession to the European Union, working directly with the Prime Minister. In 2001-2002 he was Minister of Economy, followed by representing the Estonian Government in the Convention on the Future of Europe between 2002-2003. In 2004 he moved to the European Commission as Head of Cabinet of Vice President Siim Kallas. In November 2013 he was appointed as Deputy Secretary-General of the European Commission, and represented the European Commission in the Committee of Permanent Representatives. Throughout the years, he has been awarded the Grand Cross of the Lion of Finland from the President of Finland, Order of the White Star (3rd class) from the President of Estonia, the Chevalier de l'Ordre du Mérite from the President of France, Order of Honour (Ordinul de Onoare) from the President of Moldova and the Commander of the Cross of Recognition (3rd class) from the President of Latvia. In May 2014, the Estonian European Movement named him "European of the Year", and in September 2018 he was named TalTech’s "Alumni of the year".