Gdansk 2013

1st Joint Forum Meeting, June 24th and 25th 2013

On June 24th / 25th 2013, over 70 transport experts from all of Europe followed TRANSFORuM's invitation to its 1st Joint Forum Meeting in Gdansk. Half of the attendees were external stakeholders, including CEOs of leading transport companies, top-level management representatives of authorities as well as policy makers such as Pawel Stelmaszczyk, Head of the Unit Intelligent Transport Systems within DG Move at the European Commission.

They all brought their real-world experience in one of the following topics to the discussion:

  • Clean Urban Transport and CO2-free city logistics
  • Shift of road freight to rail and waterborne transport
  • Complete and maintain the European high-speed rail network
  • European multimodal information, management and payment system

These are four key goals (no. 1, 3, 4 and 8 respectively) of the 2011 Transport White Paper to whose implementation TRANSFORuM  aims to contribute.

The event was kick-started with a very informative keynote speech of Prof. Monika Bak from the host University of Gdansk with the title "EU transport policy from the perspective of the White Paper 2011". Stefan Back delivered the second keynote "Civil society and the EU White Paper on transport policy – the EESC experience," in which he also explained the mission of the newly formed "Permanent Study Group White Paper Implementation" at the European Economic & Social Committee.

Afterwards, the attendees split up into four thematic workshops to engage in four parallel, carefully moderated discussions. The focus in the afternoon of June 24 was the identification and verification of key policies, actors, funding mechanisms and trends. The four parallel workshops continued on June 25 with a discussion about barriers, challenges and ways to overcome them.

Guiding questions for day 1 across all four Thematic Groups included:

  • Which are the main policies at various levels relevant for White Paper implementation?
  • Which relevant funding opportunities/ mechanisms exist? Which are missing?
  • Which ones are important incumbent players and which ones are emerging but important, potentially even game-changing?
  • What are the trends which will influence future developments taking a 2030/ 2050 perspective?

Guiding questions for the 2nd day (June 25) were:

  • What barriers stand in the way of implementing the White Paper goals?
  • How can these barriers be clustered and understood – and in what relationship do they stand to each other?
  • What are the challenges (difficulties, but probably surmountable) we are facing?
  • Who would have to do what, with whom, by when in order to overcome them?

A robust, holistic and “stakeholder-refined and -verified” view on these issues is crucial as a stepping stone towards the development of roadmaps and recommendations to be found in later work packages of TRANSFORuM. The essence of these discussions were presented to the plenum before lunch on Tuesday before Prof. David Banister from the Transport Studies Unit at the University of Oxford gave his lunch-time keynote "TRANSFORuM: Challenges and Opportunities."

Every part of the meeting was held under the Chatham House Rule, which means that "participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed." This ground rule was set in order to facilitate a frank and open discussion about any relevant issue, including sensitive, daring and controversial views. And indeed, the dialogue in all four groups was characterised by a very collegial atmosphere and helped the TRANSFORuM team greatly to sharpen its understanding of key issues.

Keynote Talks

The following people kindly agreed to provide input and reflections for the workshop participants:


In line with TRANSFORuM's commitment to full transparency and accountability we provide the minutes of the Gdansk workshops:

  • The workshop on Urban Mobility was attended by 12 stakeholders, representing policy makers, industry and academia from seven countries. The initial discussion focused on the White Paper goals as such and led to suggestions to sharpen European policy ambitions. The participants identified major trends in economic, demographic, technological and policy areas and mapped them in the context of the White Paper goals against a wider policy timeline. Discussions around barriers touched upon half-hearted commitment of politicians, constrained public finances, limited willingness to pay, system complexity and many more. Possible ways forward included technological improvements, taxation, mobility management, national/local co-ordination, SUMPs and a host of others. Urban Mobility minutes.
  • Long distance freight was the topic of another workshops, which was attended by 9 external stakeholders from four countries, representing the freight industry, academia, public bodies and NGOs. The participants discussed their interpretation of the respective White Paper goal, raising various concerns, highlighting particular challenges such as limited juristictions and/or commitment, lack of co-ordination and funding, esp. for infrastructure development.  The identification of trends affecting freight transport resulted in 16 key clusters, including peak-oil, continuing globalisation, ageing societies, public funding but also longer-term trends such as climate change, re-regionalization, labour costs in the far East etc. Also a wide range of barriers were discussed and so were potential strategies for overcoming them, including a number of linked policy routes. Long-distance Freight minutes.
  • The future of high-speed rail was discussed by 16 participants from eight countries (incl. the TRANSFORuM moderators and rapporteurs). The debate quickly raised issues about the clarity and content of the related White Paper goals. For example, a more useful goal than tripling the length of HS tracks could be the multiplication of demand or usage (in passenger km). All stakeholders were in support of a better co-ordination among all actors of the sector, while considering and respecting different national situations. They also agreed on the necessity to better reinforce existing regulations and safety requirement rules and to reduce divergent interpretations across different countries. Likewise, the methods of analysis of projects and costs should be harmonised across Europe and so should be the information and transparency policies of European HSR actors. High-speed Rail minutes.
  • A fourth workshop on ITS was attended by 11 participants from seven countries and from public policy, industry and research areas. The stakeholders agreed that the White Paper goal is centering on a European-wide integration of multimodal traveller information systems. They noticed that the problem of data access for these systems is not highlighted enough in the debate about a European Framework. Generally speaking, the need for a much more harmonised approach and for utmost care in handling private data was highlighted. All participants acknowledged intervention limits due to the subsidiarity principle but thought about tools like a Europe-wide “code of conduct”. Many other issues, trends, counter-trends, barriers, challenges and – most importantly – potential solutions were discussed. For a more comprehensive coverage of these discussions please refer to the ITS workshop minutes.


Feedback and Lessons Learned

At the end of the event we handed out a feedback form to all stakeholders. The results were carefully evaluated and indicate a general satisfaction with the event, especially with regards to its logistical aspects. Key recommendations for future events concerned the balance of the stakeholder composition, the moderation approach and the briefing document. Further details are available as a separate document.