Rethinking urban mobility

10 December 2014 - 11:00 - 15:00
Rapid urban growth has thrown up contrasting visions of the future. Cities could become increasingly polluted and gridlocked, damaging inhabitants’ health and making it hard for them to get around. Or they could be cleaner and smarter, offering people a variety of options for moving rapidly and in a sustainable way to their destinations.

Panellists at a Friends of Europe conference, “Rethinking Urban Mobility”, said there are a variety of ways to make cities liveable and mobile, ranging from an optimised use of infrastructure and intelligent transportation systems to a mass shift towards bikes, walking, public transport and clean cars. The questions are: which of these will work best, and how will they be paid for.

Copenhagen, the 2014 European Green Capital, is often cited as a model for clean and smart mobility. The population has grown by a fifth in the past two decades and trips have risen by a quarter. But most of this increase has come from walking and cycling – helped by wide bike lanes and good public transport connections.

Mayor Morten Kabell says this is the only way to cope. “A city has a finite space, and we can't just tear down blocks,” he said. “You have to tell people: ‘No, you can't bring your car. That was the era of the fifties and sixties.’"

The auto industry is trying to make cars better suited to the new, crowded environment and to cut cars’ fuel consumption and carbon footprint. Though Paris recently announced it would ban diesel cars from 2020, new ones are vastly cleaner and more efficient than old ones, said Erik Jonnaert, Secretary General of the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA). “Extreme responses will not help us,” he said. “All options are a means to an end – to reduce emissions. Vehicles will have to make serious contributions, but we need to look at it in a more integrated way.”

Higher fuel taxes are likely to be more effective than any ETS-type scheme, said Jos Dings, Director of Transport & Environment. “The fuel tax is the single most important reason why we in Europe only use half the fuel of our North American friends per head,” he said.

Clean cars are still a niche market in the world, but better infrastructure could give them an important boost. Announcing a 315 bn euro investment plan in late November, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he had a vision of commuters charging electric cars along a motorway, in the same way we fill up with petrol.

Still, there are limits to what can be done at an EU level. “You cannot force the member states to have X percent electric infrastructure, because the differences between them are really high,” said Ismail Ertug, Member of the European Parliament Committee on Transport and Tourism.

And the complexity of cities and transport systems mean that models such as Copenhagen will not necessarily work elsewhere. “There are many different elements, so you can't take solutions from one city and copy-paste onto another,” said Magda Kopczynska, Director of Innovative and Sustainable Mobility at the European Commission Directorate General for Mobility and Transport. “What does work is to let cities learn about solutions.”


Read our background briefing "Electric cars: Revving up on the rough road to a sustainable future


IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Joan Campderrós-i-Canas

09.00 - 09.30 Welcome coffee and registration of participants

As European cities rapidly expand – already home to three-quarters of the EU population and generating over 85% of the EU GDP - so does the need for urban mobility. That leads to increased congestion, air pollution and traffic accidents. Many existing car-based urban systems are close to a breakdown, being able to circulate quickly, conveniently, cheaply, safely, and with little environmental impact becomes a critical priority for the cities of tomorrow. But putting mobility trends on a sustainable path requires a total rethink of urban mobility, new travel habits, integrated and sustainable transport planning, optimised use of infrastructure and innovative business models. New technologies, innovative solutions and services are emerging, ranging from intelligent traffic management systems and modern public transport services to electronic ticketing and smartphone applications with real-time traffic information and journey planning data, but they are not yet taken up on the necessary scale. What market and policy barriers prevent the innovation potential in urban mobility to be unleashed? How can sustainable transport modes, like walking, cycling, public transport and car sharing, become an attractive alternative to private car use and ownership? Who should bear the costs of improved public services and networks, and which types of investment should be prioritised? How can greater collaboration between local authorities, innovative business leaders and conscious citizens be enhanced to create a collective next-generation transit system? Which cities are pioneering in sustainable transport solutions and how can we encourage exchange of best practices? What role can the EU and its funding play?


Max Jensen / Head of Public Transport at the European Investment Bank (EIB)

Transport & Urban Planning Engineer, Max Jensen has been involved in more than two hundred EIB projects in the transport sector over the last decade. He currently leads the Public Transport Division, with a special interest in EU transport policy, management of infrastructure projects implementation and socio-economic dimension of public transport investments, including urban and regional development, integrated mobility and energy efficiency initiatives.

Morten Kabell / Mayor of Copenhagen of Technical and Environmental Affairs

Morten Kabell has been involved in the local government of Copenhagen, the European Green Capital 2014, for the last 20 years. He is now Mayor responsible for technical and environmental affairs and his political vision is to transform Copenhagen into a greener city with a higher level of livability, less polluted air, better health and efficient infrastructure.

Werner Koestler / Senior Vice President of the Continental Automotive Interior Division

Werner Koestler is a leading figure of Continental’s Interior Division, that develops and delivers integrated and intelligent electronic systems and solutions that provide drivers and passengers with all the information they need to operate and keep in touch with the outside world. He was previously President of Asia Continental Automotive Systems.

Magda Kopczynska / Director of Innovative and Sustainable Mobility at the European Commission Directorate General for Mobility and Transport

Magda Kopczynska has been working for many years in the field of clean and intelligent transport systems at the European Commission, and is now responsible for the development and follow-up of the implementation of the European innovative and sustainable mobility policy. Her previous experiences include working for the Warsaw public administration.


Moderated by Chris Burns / Editor and Media Director at Friends of Europe

* to be confirmed


11.00 - 11.30 Coffee break

As Europe’s long-term climate and energy framework is at a crossroads, there is significant potential for greener transport solutions to play a major role in cutting carbon emissions, improving air quality, reducing costly oil import dependency and cutting fuel bills, while at the same time creating jobs and boosting competitiveness of the European automotive industry. However, despite technological progress and political efforts at the EU, national and local levels, the transport sector is still responsible for a quarter of Europe’s CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, and its share is growing. More than 95% of vehicles depend on oil, representing 60% of total oil consumption. Alternative electric, hybrid and fuel cell vehicles are still not cost-competitive and account for only 1% of total car sales in Europe, and the necessary accompanying infrastructure is largely insufficient. Moreover, different charging protocols, plug designs and billing systems have emerged in Europe making the cross-border trips virtually impossible. When will the standardisation of electric vehicle charging systems become a reality? What reasons can explain low popularity of climate-friendly cars among consumers and significant disparities among EU member states? What political, regulatory and financial measures and instruments can encourage greater fuel efficiency, investment in infrastructure and clean vehicles market uptake? How can innovation be spurred to reduce the cost and extend the lifespan of batteries and storage systems? Is there a need for binding 2030 sub-targets for renewable energy and GHG intensity reductions in transport? What are the prospects for the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) to cover all transport sectors?


Jos Dings / Director of Transport & Environment

Jos Dings has been heading T&E since 2004, overseeing the organisation’s mission to promote, at EU and global level, a transport policy based on the principles of sustainable development. He previously worked as head of the transport division at CE Delft, an environmental policy consultancy, where he negotiated on behalf of the Dutch EU Presidency the ‘Euro 3-4’ standards for cars.

Ismail  Ertug MEP / Member of the European Parliament Committee on Transport and Tourism and shadow rapporteur on ‘Deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure’ package

Ismail Ertug played a central role in shaping Europe’s future transport policy as co-rapporteur of the TEN-T guidelines. In his Transport and Tourism Committee work, he defends the vision of a strong European transport network that allows for seamless connections across the entire single market and contributes to the goals of the EU’s climate and environmental policies. He was shadow rapporteur on the recent Commission’s proposal for a directive on deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure.

Erik Jonnaert / Secretary General of the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA)

Erik Jonnaert heads the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association, representing the voice of Europe’s car, van, truck and bus makers in Brussels. Prior to his ACEA appointment in 2013, he was Procter & Gamble's Vice President for External Relations in Europe and Asia.

Lena Malm/ Lord Mayor of Gothenburg

With a long standing career in Gothenburg’s local administration, Lena Malm if currently Lord Mayor and President of the City Council. The city has an ambitious goal of reducing CO2 emissions from 10 tonnes to less than 2 tonnes per capita by 2050. It is one of the leading cities in implementing greener traffic policies and has several initiatives in place to enhance sustainable mobility, with its electric car rental system and a network of fast charging infrastructure.

Carlo Pettinelli / Director for Sustainable Growth and EU2020 at the European Commission Directorate General for Enterprise and Industry

Carlo Pettinelli joined the European Commission in 1998 and has worked in various Directorates-Generals before moving to the DG for Enterprise and Industry in February 2011. He is now responsible for sustainable industrial policy and industrial innovation, with a special competence related to mobility and automotive industries. He is also in charge of economic analysis of competitiveness for enterprises and the coordination of EU policies for standardisation.


Moderated by Chris Burns / Editor and Media Director at Friends of Europe

13.00 End of debate

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After 20 years of negotiations, 195 countries signed the Paris Agreement to limit global warming well below 2°C above pre-industrial level by the end of the century. The focus now moves to design and implementation, and success will depend on the support and contribution of all – including industries, member-states, regions, cities and citizens.

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Danuta Slusarka, Programme Manager
Tel.: +32 (0)2 893 98 23
Email: Jenni Heikka, Programme Assistant
Tel.: +32 (0)2 893 98 26
Email:   *image credit Joan Campderrós-i-Canas
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Event starts
10 December