On 23rd March, EU 27 Member States (and EEA countries) signed a Letter of Intent to intensify cooperation on testing of automated road transport in cross-border test sites. The signature of the Letter took place in the context of the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome which laid the foundations of the European Union. The objective of this initiative is to allow the Member States and industry to collaborate and realize the EU’s vision for cooperative, connected and automated mobility. This is a clear signal of the EU trying to take the lead in deploying connected and automated vehicles.
The Member States committed to work together on cross-border sections, itineraries or corridors to conduct and to facilitate research, tests and large-scale demonstrations in the fields of road safety, data access, data quality and liability, connectivity and on digital technologies. Member States and the Commission will also identify actions to be undertaken in the next months on the testing and large-scale demonstration of connected and automated mobility. As a first step, the Commission will initiate an inventory of all cross-border activities and related policies between member states. The cross-border dimension is of paramount importance to ensure interoperability all over Europe and avoid having vehicles stopped when they reach a border.
Other initiatives were already taken across the EU. Earlier this year, France and Germany agreed to build a cross-border corridor between the two neighboring regions of Lorraine and Saarland to test connected and automated driving. This is a first step to being expanded and followed by other Member States and regions. The Commission is also looking at the 5th generation of wireless communications systems. In 2016, the Commission released the 5G Action Plan which aims to boost the deployment of 5G infrastructures and services across the Digital Single Market by 2020 and sets out a clear roadmap for public and private investment in 5G infrastructure. Besides, the EU Public-Private Partnership (5G-PPP) launched in 2013 has put Europe clearly in the forefront of the current research phase and the research results are now feeding the global standardization process.
Several expert groups were set up to discuss these matters among which the GEAR 2030 and the C-ITS platforms. The GEAR 2030 was created in January 2016 and gathers experts from the European Commission, insurance companies, OEMs, digital and telecoms companies. These stakeholders aim to support the upcoming legislative work that will be needed to operate automated vehicles (SAE levels 3 to 5). The conclusions are expected to be published after the summer and should give a good indication of how the EU will address the deployment of connected and autonomous vehicles on the roads and will try to influence discussions at a global level in the framework of UNECE.