Providing leadership in sustainable transport
S'pore, EU must continue to work together for clean, competitive and connected mobility
I always enjoy visiting Singapore, which is without doubt one of the world's most forward-looking, dynamic and innovative hubs.
It is a country that embraces change and has been constantly reinventing itself for so many years as a transport trailblazer.
It's also no surprise that Singapore is very much a strategic partner of the European Union in the transport domain.
Singapore is one of the EU's most important trade partners in the Asia-Pacific region, and the EU is the most important trading partner for Singapore.
Effective transport networks represent not only the glue that links our economies and people but are also strategic sectors of our respective economies.
Efficient mobility in cities greatly enhances economic opportunities. In dealing with shared challenges, we have much to learn from each other.
Singapore has been at the forefront of sustainable transport planning. Through coordinated policies, it has worked towards developing an extensive and well-connected public transit system that includes both trains and buses while at the same time controlling the number of cars on its streets.
We continue to look at the Singapore model when referencing alternative approaches to sustainable transport.
Yesterday, we continued our ongoing conversation on this and many other issues. I co-chaired with my good friend, Permanent Secretary Pang Kin Keong, our fourth EU-Singapore Transport Dialogue. Why is this important? Quite simply because we need global solutions to global challenges.
In a world in which some are increasingly questioning the value of international cooperation, like-minded actors must take the baton forward together and provide that leadership. Our yearly Transport Dialogues - exchanging experiences and deepening ties - ensure we can do just that.
During this visit, we intend to concentrate our efforts on two very pertinent transport challenges and opportunities: digitalisation and decarbonisation.
The potential of the new "Intelligent Transport Systems" such as automated cars in creating new business models, services and revenue streams while boosting safety and providing environmental benefits for all in society is massive. But if managed poorly, they could be increasingly disruptive and divisive. We need to work on harnessing globalisation and shaping change so that all in our societies can benefit.
EU business is working closely with Singapore in developing these innovative technologies. Singapore's 1,000 electric vehicle (EV) car-sharing programme, which will start soon, is run in partnership with Blue Solutions, a subsidiary of Bollore Group, a French company which is a global leader in EV car-sharing.
During my trip, I am very much looking forward also to visiting Airbus Helicopters South-east Asia in Seletar to hear about the recent partnership it has concluded with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore to test drone parcel delivery services on the campus of the National University of Singapore.
Furthermore, as we have witnessed in recent weeks, cybersecurity breaches have the potential to cause major damage, no matter where we are located. Overcoming the threat posed by terrorists is another area in which we must work together.
One tangible illustration of us deepening our cooperation is our commitment to pin down a one-stop security arrangement between the EU and Singapore to secure air passengers and their luggage, while reducing hassle for our citizens.
If transport is to grow, we must also honour the Paris agreement so that emissions from our transport systems become part of the solution rather than much of the problem. It is important that the agreements reached last year on emissions from aviation are fully implemented - by all countries and at all levels.
We need to work together this year within the International Maritime Organisation to reduce pollution from our ships. Given the commitment shown in the past, I have no doubt the EU and our partners in Singapore will continue to be at the forefront of dealing with the multiple challenges posed by climate change.
We remain committed to working hand in hand with Singapore in all areas of transport to tackle global challenges and to pursue international solutions that ensure clean, competitive and connected mobility for all.
Our citizens demand effective leadership. The EU and Singapore are working together to provide it.
The writer is director-general for mobility and transport at the European Commission, European Union. This article was published in The Business Times yesterday.