Time for the rail industry the European Institutions and member states to maintain Europe’s leading role in the world rail market
More than 220 leaders of the European rail industry gathered in Warsaw for the 27th UNIFE General Assembly. This year's edition was the opportunity for EU rail suppliers and decision-makers to address together the current challenges that the industry must face. Participants recognised both the strategic importance of the manufacturing sector and the need to act without any delay to ensure that European rail manufacturing companies keep their global leadership in a context of growing and fierce world competition. The question of how the EU Institutions and Member States can best support the global competitiveness of the European rail supply industry dominated many of the discussions throughout the day.
UNIFE Director General Philippe Citroën valued the strong presence of industry CEOs and high-level speakers from the European Commission, the European Parliament, the European Investment Bank (EIB), Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking, the European Union Agency for Railways and the Polish Ministry of Infrastructure. “This clearly demonstrates how strategic our industry is in the eyes of European decision-makers” he stated.
In a video message opening the UNIFE General Assembly, Elzbieta Bienkowska, EU Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs pointed out that the European rail supply industry is at the heart of EU renewed industrial policy strategies.
Martina Werner, Member of the European Parliament Industry (ITRE) and Trade (INTA) Committees, Rapporteur for the 2016 parliamentary Resolution on Competitiveness of the European Rail Supply Industry underlined the need for fair international competition and for increased future EU investment for Shift2Rail.
Gwenole Cozigou, Director, Industrial Transformation & Advanced Value Chains, DG GROW, European Commission stated that they are “looking forward to the concrete results of the European Commission’s Expert Group on the competitiveness of the rail supply industry.”
Carlo Borghini, Executive Director, Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking stressed how Shift2Rail is contributing to the competitiveness and innovation of the EU rail system.
Marek Chodkiewicz, Polish Deputy Minister of Infrastructure outlined the planned investments in the Polish railway network co-funded by EU funds, in particular for ERTMS deployment, rolling stock renewal, and infrastructure modernisation.
Keir Fitch, Head of Unit, Rail Safety and Interoperability, DG MOVE, European Commission remarked that “Innovation, interoperability, investment and internationalisation are at the heart of the European rail transport policy. [….] We need Member States to transpose the Technical Pillar of the 4th Railway Package by June 2019, as this is key to improve interoperability in the EU.”
Richard Lockett, Head of Strategy, Research & International Standards Unit, European Union Agency for Railways (ERA) declared, "the 4th Railway Package will make the authorisation framework much better and simpler.”
Karel Vinck, European Coordinator for ERTMS reminded the important ongoing EU financial support for ERTMS deployment projects and recalled that 2023 is a crucial year to meet Deployment Action Plan targets.
This year saw the election of Sabrina Soussan, CEO of Siemens Mobility, as the new UNIFE Chair. After thanking the membership for her election as UNIFE Chair, she stated “As Chair of UNIFE, I can assure you that we will continue to advocate for strong EU measures. Our strategy will target three strategic priorities: Promoting innovation, through an extension of Shift2Rail beyond 2020. Improving business conditions, through the new Authorisation regime, and stimulating investment, by using EU funding & financing opportunities.”
During its Statutory meeting, UNIFE also officially accepted 16 new members into the association: Akka Technologies (France), Belam (Lithuania), Eltec Elektronik (Germany), Eolane (France), Evopro Group (Hungary), Frequentis (Austria), Ilo Technology (France), Masats (Spain), Movares (Netherlands), Neat (Italy), Nokia Solutions and Networks (Finland), Prolan (Hungary), Radiall (France), Smiths Interconnect (UK), Thoni Alutec (Poland), Unex (Spain).
The next UNIFE General Assembly will take place in Dublin, in June 2019.