Saving Christmas isn’t an opportunity which presents itself often in one’s career. Adina Vălean, European Commissioner for Transport has been granted at least the possibility of slaying the Ghost of Christmas Future, by navigating safe passage through a sea of COVID-19 challenges facing the EU.
Driving Home for Christmas will be on the Commission’s playlist this festive season, with Vălean hoping the European Council can find a way to enable seasonal travellers to test before departing, and test soon after arrival at another destination in Europe. Vălean spoke with EURACTIV’s Brian Maguire, Over A Coffee (virtually), about the pandemic’s destructive impact on Europe’s transport system, but also the opportunities which are now presented.
At the centre of the Commission’s fight to shape a more sustainable transport ecosystem, Vălean points to data, and the capacity of digitalisation to increase sectoral resilience and reduce carbon emissions. Acknowledging that trust remains an issue, she said that there is growing awareness of the capacity for data and AI to decrease the transport sector’s environmental footprint and its costs, and key to that is avoiding fragmentation.
She speaks about the updated communication on Green Lanes which includes chapters on passenger locator forms and testing protocols to be developed for the airports.
In this Over A Coffee interview, Vălean emphasises the importance of connecting the Western Balkans and assisting economic recovery; the role of low carbon liquid fuels and novel energy sources such as hydrogen – including for the struggling aviation sector, though not in the near future. She asserts the need for a hard look at aviation business models and speaks about the significant complexity of achieving environmental progress in the global maritime sector.