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Mobility and Transport
News article4 October 2023Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport5 min read

Commissioner Vălean: Opening speech at Urban Mobility Days 2023

Dear Minister Sanchez Jimenez,

Dear regional Minister Diaz Jimenez

Dear deputy Mayor Flores Berenguer,

Ladies and gentlemen,


It is an honour to be in Seville with you today. As witnessed in the short film shown earlier, I am delighted to see Seville leading by example and becoming one of the top European cities placing smart transport systems at the heart of its urban mobility policy.

While the European Union’s Cohesion policy has been actively addressing territorial differences, also in the urban environment, I acknowledge that the EU has not focused its attention on the topic of urban mobility until recently. It is certainly true that local and regional authorities know far better the realities on the ground. They know how to better adapt to the specific local circumstances and demands from their citizens. Not every city in Europe has the same mobility patterns and problems. Not every city wants to address these in the same way. Not all municipalities and regions have the same financial resources either.  Let’s not forget, this is also a question of subsidiarity.

But the line between local and regional authority responsibilities becomes blurred nowadays. First, cities are the place where long-distance freight interact with the urban freight network and the last mile delivery.

The cities are the physical space in which most passengers change transport modes or simply reach their final destination. Airports, trains and bus stations are often located in the city and congestion, pollution and road accidents, are some of the negative effects of transport that are more acute in our cities and towns.

We see that cities are asking for support. And it is not just financial support that they are looking for. They also seek guidance in terms of policy. They want to know how similar problems are being tackled by other authorities. Because of their size, they often don’t have the means, or the capacity to tackle the challenges they face. 

This is where, from Brussels, we can bring added value. And this is also the very essence of the Urban Mobility Days: to meet authorities, stakeholders, transport operators, civil society and relevant decision-makers at EU, national and local levels.

In the European Commission, we have not ignored the reality and challenges of cities and we have been active during the past years. Let me highlight some examples of how the EU has taken action to address these important issues:

In our trans-European transport network - which are the corridors and the main arteries of transport flows in Europe - urban nodes have had, until now, a very secondary role. In our revision of the TEN-T regulation, we have boosted the urban dimension, by increasing the 83 urban nodes of today, to more than 430 cities designated as urban nodes along the TEN-T network.  All municipalities over 100 000 inhabitants will qualify as an urban node.

What are we asking of these new urban nodes? First, we are requiring that they have a Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan in place by 2025. Local authorities need to reflect on the mobility needs of their city and ways in which they can address these in a sustainable way. How to tackle emissions, but also congestion, as well as how to organise urban logistics.

By decreasing commuting times and expanding access to job possibilities, a well-designed urban mobility policy can boost economic competitiveness. To be able to respond to the needs of both citizens and businesses operating in our cities, we first need to better understand the reality on the ground. For this, we need more data, and we need cities to collect information that we are currently missing.

We are ready to help cities in this endeavour. Resources are limited and, in the Commission, we will always prioritise actions with added value such as cross border projects where Member States cannot progress alone. But we are ready to look for ways to increase support to cities in the context of the next Multi-Annual Financial Framework.

We have already been financing many programmes in urban areas. For example, here in Seville: The Port of Seville is strategically important, being situated on two of our major corridors, namely the Spain-Mediterranean and Atlantic corridors. We have been providing funding to the port through multiple projects under the Connecting Europe Facility and Horizon 2020.

We can talk about other examples of our support to urban nodes. I would like to mention two cities from the country I know best. I know there is a specific section on Ukraine during the Urban mobility days, and here we should pay tribute to the city of Constanta, which plays a key role in transits from Ukraine to Europe and is a lifeline for the Ukrainian economy and world as a whole. Also, the city of Cluj Napoca, known for its rapid development in the last years. Digital solutions linked to urban mobility have found a good home in Cluj.

Allow me to also mention the importance of digitalisation and how the future of urban mobility, in my opinion, will undoubtedly include the integration of smart technologies into sustainable transport solutions, with the demands of individuals serving as the driving force of innovation.

Because of the power of technology and innovation, I envision a seamless combination of both public and private means of transportation. Innovations such as autonomous vehicles, intelligent traffic management systems, and digital transportation platforms are already here and are the way forward. 

There must be mobile applications providing real-time transit information, ridesharing services, and smart infrastructure that can be adapted to individuals' preferences and needs, making transportation more efficient and user-friendly. For this to happen, we will certainly need the right people with the right skills, which is also another challenge for cities. This is the subject of this year’s Urban mobility days, which is precisely why now is the time to shine our light on urban mobility.

I wish you a successful conference with many interesting discussions and opportunities to make new connections.

Thank you very much!


Publication date
4 October 2023
Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport