On 19th-20th October the 11th Eastern Partnership Transport Panel took place in Brussels, organised by the European Commission. The purpose of the Transport Panel meeting was to discuss follow-up actions of the TEN-T Rotterdam ministerial meeting in June, including future transport projects within the TEN-T network and associated financial mechanisms.
Road transportation provides huge benefits to the Eastern Partnership countries, as it facilitates movement of goods and people, creating employment, supporting economic growth, and enhancing access to education and health care. However, as in other developing countries that are rapidly growing, road and transport safety is a rising public health concern, and a social and economic problem within the region. The second day of the seminar was therefore devoted to road safety issues in the Eastern Partnership countries. Representatives of Georgian road safety organisations were invited to share information on their activities and projects with government agencies. Gela Kvashilava, Chairman of the Board of the Partnership for Road Safety (PfRS) offered an overview of the current road safety situation in Georgia and the challenges that both Georgia and other Eastern Partnership countries face in improving safety.
Gela talked about the importance of different actors and stakeholders in taking a common approach and setting concrete targets that can be monitored in the future, and emphasised the importance of securing political commitment, at the highest possible level, in each country. He highlighted that European Union countries can provide invaluable assistance to improving data collection, enforcement and capacity building for road safety, and therefore proposed the establishment of an Eastern Partnership Countries Road Safety Working Group where government, NGOs, academia and businesses can work with respective EU institutions to advance safe and sustainable mobility in the Eastern Partnership countries. The aim of the Working Group will be to promote regional cooperation on road safety: facilitating cross-border projects and sharing know-how and resources within the region, and beyond. It will help to expand and strengthen transport cooperation between the EU and Eastern Partnership countries, and harmonise corresponding national legislation with European regulations. This will promote efficient, safe and secure transport operations and remove any technical or administrative barriers. This proposition was very well received and there was an agreement to consider this issue seriously and undertake concrete actions in this direction.