Speech given by Minister Sanna Marin at the European Parliament's Committee on Transport and Tourism, 24 July 2019

Ministry of Transport and Communications
Publication date 24.7.2019 10.36
News item
Minister of Transport and Communications Sanna Marin (Photo: Jukka-Pekka Flander)
Minister of Transport and Communications Sanna Marin (Photo: Jukka-Pekka Flander)

Speech given by Minister of Transport and Communications Sanna Marin during an exchange of views with the European Parliament's Committee on Transport and Tourism, 24 July 2019.

Madam Chair of the Committee,Members of the European Parliament,

It is a great pleasure to be here with you today to discuss the priorities for Finland's Presidency of the Council.

Europeans are looking for the Union to produce positive and concrete outcomes that will have an impact on their daily lives. To achieve such outcomes, we must work together closely.

The EU is faced with great challenges. We need practical and substantial measures both to tackle climate change and to prepare for it. We must also make full use of the opportunities digital transformation is opening up for us.

Change calls for boldness, dedication and passion. The focus of all actions should be the citizen. And what role do we play? We clear the path for new ideas and make the change possible.

Our guiding principle must be to tackle the main challenges facing the EU and to address European citizens' expectations. The EU must be able to make decisions and implement what has been agreed. Delivery is what matters.

Generally, the priorities of our presidency follow the key elements of the new strategic agenda. The EU can prove its worth by creating wellbeing and prosperity that are socially, ecologically and economically sustainable. Our objective is a strong, united and well-functioning EU.

In the transport sector, we are facing big questions:
how to improve infrastructure;
reduce emissions; and
make the best of digitalisation and new technologies.

Regarding transport, Finland has identified four strategic focus areas: digital transport services, the automation of transport, carbon-free transport and the data economy.

I am convinced that focusing on these areas will enable sustainable growth in the EU.

Significant and rapid emission reductions in the transport sector are required to reach the EU-level climate targets.

Data and good connections are the key drivers for enabling seamless, cost-efficient and environmentally friendly services.

To this end, in the area of transport and communications, we have chosen the motto: Smart connections for sustainable growth. It reflects not only the coming together of transport and communications services in the digital era but also the future needs in developing networks. The EU's transport and communications policy should be smart and sustainable.

Reliable and customer-oriented transport services are the backbone of a well-functioning and competitive society. We should examine the regulation of mobility comprehensively, not just from the viewpoint of measures involving individual modes of transport or legislation.

Europe needs smoothly running and interoperable transport services. A broader and more diverse offering of transport services will provide significant possibilities for sustainable growth and competitiveness in Europe.

Safe automated transport solutions across all modes of transport should be encouraged. Automation is one of the main instruments for promoting sustainable growth and competitiveness in Europe. With regard to transport, automation can help improve safety and efficiency and resolve environmental and climate-related challenges.

Data must become the main fuel that drives a European, sustainable transport system. The transport sector is one of the first sectors where better use of data can be harnessed to produce tangible results. For example, Mobility-as-a-Service and autonomous vehicles are being developed at an increasing pace.

Data will enable more user-centred, cost-efficient and environmentally friendly transport services. In order to develop digital services and automation, we must both increase data access and interoperability of data, as well as improve the quality and processing of data. With this in mind, Finland's objective is to stimulate the European-level debate on the principles of the data economy.

A key priority of Finland's Presidency is the EU's global leadership in climate action. We can make the EU the world's most competitive and socially inclusive low-carbon economy.

Finland seeks to promote ambitious emission reduction targets in all modes of transport. Transport is one of the sectors where cost-effective emission reductions can be made. The possibilities of digitalisation and automation in emissions reductions should also be fully exploited.

The transition from a fossil fuel economy to a low-carbon one, and eventually to a carbon-free future, is as essential in transport as it is in other sectors. We will raise this topic in the meeting of the Transport Council in September.

The Finnish Presidency is committed to continuing the work on the pending legislative files. We also wish to take the opportunity to discuss strategic priorities in the transport sector.

In the area of land transport, we will continue to focus on rail passenger rights and the Eurovignette, with the aim of adopting a general approach. We stand ready to start negotiations on the social and market pillar of the first Mobility Package, when you agree on a mandate to negotiate.

With regard to intermodal questions and networks, we will continue to work on the proposal for a smart Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), with the objective of reaching agreement on a general approach. If time permits, we also stand ready to open negotiations with you.

On the proposal for electronic freight transport information (eFTI), we aim to conclude the discussions with you.

We will also continue to work on the summer-time arrangements.

In the area of aviation, we will continue to facilitate the signature and conclusion of agreements with third countries. We will also put the issue of air passenger rights back on the agenda. But before pushing the legislative proposal forward in the discussion, the Council needs to take stock of where we are, since the proposal was last discussed in the Council four years ago.

In shipping, we will coordinate the EU's positions to the meetings of the International Maritime Organization. Moreover, we will work on strengthening the EU's global role in sustainability, digitalisation and automation.  

During Finland's Presidency, we will organise several events to stimulate the debate on future transport and communications policy. I would like to take this opportunity to encourage all of you to contribute to this dialogue.

We will organise stakeholder conferences together with the Commission:

Digital Transport Days will offer a European viewpoint of digital solutions for transport and mobility.

Contributing to a momentum of reform for the Single European Sky, we will organise the High Level Conference on the Future of the Single European Sky.

The High-Level Conference on Data Economy will also be organised in order to pursue the debate on future of the EU in data economy.

Under the Finnish Presidency, two Ministerial Councils on Transport will take place. On 20 September, the Transport Council will be organised in Brussels in order to discuss the transport aspects concerning the EU's strategic long-term vision for a climate neutral economy. The Second Transport Council will take place on 2 December 2019 in Brussels.

Madam Chair, Members of the European Parliament,

Transport questions are constantly in the public eye, giving us a clear indication of how much transport policy impacts on the daily lives of Europeans.

Both citizens and industry expect a lot from us policymakers. The fact that the bar is set high will undoubtedly make us work even more effectively and take decisive action to reach our shared goals.

And, as the long list of matters I have just presented to you shows, there is much work to do. For my part, I am ready to take on this task.

As our cooperation with you will play an important role in advancing the matters now on the table, I will be very interested to hear your views on how the Parliament and the Council can together tackle the challenges we are facing.

As I mentioned before, I believe, that our first and foremost challenges are the need to digitalise the transport sector, as well as make it carbon neutral.

Thank you for your attention. Kiitos.