The seminar, Promoting Sustainable Infrastructure in EU Regions, presented different initiatives by the road industry as it strives to contribute towards the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy.
The event was held at the Committee of the Regions on 3 March and gathered representatives from the industry, transport associations, institutional actors and, above all, European regions. The seminar was organised within the framework of the New Jersey LIFE Project to investigate how the public and private sector can cooperate to achieve a more environmentally friendly and innovative road infrastructure.
The conference started with the presentation of the LIFE Programme which represents the only EU financial instrument fully dedicated to the environment. The new LIFE 2014-2020 will allocate more than EUR 3 billion towards a resource-efficient, low–carbon and climate-resilient economy protecting and improving the environment.
Subsequently, the event showcased successful public and private initiatives in the field of road research, amongst other: the real deployment of recycling of end-of-life tyres and plastics, the introduction of innovative materials for road pavements and promotion of electric mobility
The 2nd part of the seminar focussed on the important role authorities can play to boost innovation through better tendering processes. To this end, a representative from the European Commission gave an overview of the main novelties included in the new Directive for Public Procurement, which seeks to modernise tendering practices by allowing authorities to include other criteria and elements than the ‘lowest price’. This vision was complemented by a presentation by ERF Vice-President Rik Nuyttens who stressed the need for greater cooperation between industry and public authorities in order to develop common methods for assessment of the -lifecycle of products and services
The event was closed by Witold Stepien, member of the CoR, who underlined the importance of regions in promoting sustainable infrastructure, especially those who will be recipients of cohesion funds. To this end, he encouraged a more systematic dialogue between local and regional authorities, on the one hand, and the road infrastructure sector on the other, in order to promote a more competitive and resource efficient transport system.