On 2 April 2014, members of European Parliament Dominique Riquet (EPP), Saïd El Khadraoui (S&D) and Adina-Ioana Vălean (ALDE) participated in an interactive debate organised by the Forum for the Automobile and Society. Founder of the Forum, Malcolm Harbour (ECR) moderated the debate and asked each candidate to give each group’s vision about the role of the Parliament in tackling upcoming transport challenges, in the light of the upcoming European elections.
Representing the EPP, Dominique Riquet, emphasised the solid outcomes of the current Parliament in the field of road safety: the Transport Committee worked on improving road infrastructure, vehicle design and driver training. His party is keen on improving safety and the environmental record of transport, while safeguarding industry interests. Legislation on targets for car CO2 emissions was one area where a balance needed to be found between environmental concerns and industry. In his view, it was a pure scandal that taxes collected from motorists were not reinvested into road infrastructure. Looking to the future, he noted that it is not yet possible to know what the connected car will be. As such, it is too easy to make legislation based on the status quo, but legislators and industry must keep in mind that future vehicles may be more computer than car.
Saïd El Khadraoui, representing S&D, highlighted three main concerns for his party: creating a more sustainable transport system, contributing to road safety and setting good social rules in transportation. In his veiw, developping smarter mobility was not only crucial for European cities but also key to keeping the European economy in the lead globally. He is very concerned about lowering levels of congestion though the better development of the road infrastructure for all modes of transportation, including public transportation and railways. He underlined the importance of interoperability of transport systems, “which is where the European added value lies.”
As the voice for the ALDE party, Adina-Ioana Vălean was dedicated to promoting the car industry’s competitivness in her daily work as an MEP noting that, it is “a key driver for all industry in Europe.” In her view, technological development and innovation are necessary to create growth. MEPs’ role is to provide stable and predictable legislation to foster this innovation. She has worked on eCall legislation and Intelligent Transport Systems to accelerate vehicle connectivity for consumers. She also expressed support for a level playing field between consumers and industry when it comes to new car technologies. In her view, the best way to do this is to legislate an open dialogue between industry and service providers in the development of the telematics networks to be used for connected cars.
In front of more than 50 participants, from the Commission, Permanent Representations and stakeholder groups, Malcolm Harbour was warmly thanked by the participants for his strong involvement over the years in mobility-related issues.