At the European Transport Forum 2011, President and CEO of the Volvo Group, Olof Persson, was invited to speak as an industry expert to debate the importance of a Single European Transport Area alongside MEPs and senior officials from the European Commission.
Olof Persson, President and CEO of the Volvo Group, was invited to take part in a live panel debate at the European Transport Forum, which brought together some of Europe’s most senior and influential transport officials. The forum, held annually in Brussels, is the European Union’s (EU’s) central debating platform for transport issues. Mr. Persson was asked to contribute to the debate as an industry expert – as head of one of the world's leading providers of commercial transport solutions he has a wealth of expertise from a range of transport fields – including construction equipment, trucks and buses. More than 150 stakeholders, policy makers, academics and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) gathered at the forum to help shape the EU’s future transport policy.
“This forum is a good platform to engage in a dialogue with EU politicians about important issues which will have an impact on the Volvo Group and our customers,” said Mr. Persson. On this year’s agenda was efficient logistic systems and a Single European Transport Area for a sustainable EU. “Looking at it from the Volvo Group’s perspective, the focus was on the need to harmonize rules and directives in order to support the Single European Transport Area,” explains Mr. Persson. “This would ensure that we can move our products around the EU in the most efficient way for the benefit of our customers. We also talked about regulations, infrastructure and research & development (R&D). Debating these kinds of issues – and making sure our voice is heard when it comes to regulations and policy setting, is extremely important to the Volvo Group. The views of diverse groups like automotive manufacturers and infrastructure builders provide an invaluable insight for decision makers hoping to devise new policies.”
“Looking at the challenge from Volvo CE’s perspective, I think the use and efficiency of our machines would increase with the harmonization of the European transport area – which would bring common safety features, standards and regulations into force,” explained Mr. Persson.
Commenting on the debate, Mr. Persson said that before a Single European Transport Area and free flow of goods could be achieved, there are a number of things which have to be put in place. “Pushing for more infrastructure investment was discussed at length during the forum,” he said. “This, of course, is great for the construction equipment industry and will have a positive impact on Volvo CE.”
“The expense of making these initiatives a reality should be seen as an investment rather than a cost,” said Mr. Persson during the debate. “Time and time again we can see the positive benefits that arise from infrastructure deployment – from environmental gains to increased mobility.
Therefore, if you look at it from this point of view, you can easily see the business case for investing in improving Europe’s infrastructure. We already have an enormously sophisticated system in place in terms of transport – but now we need to improve it. Together we must build a strong road map and focus on investing in areas where we will get the most back.”
Volvo’s core values of quality, safety and environmental care underpinned the discussions at the European Transport Forum. “Our core values make us an important partner in this dialogue – we want to get things done and the best way to achieve this is to participate in these important conversations and make sure we are a discussion partner,” said Mr. Persson. “This year’s European Transport forum debate had a safety link, an environmental care aspect and there is, of course, a quality association in a larger context.
“One of the most important things that I will take away from these discussions, is that there is a great deal of willingness from the politicians within the EU to try and move forwards with a single European Transport Area,” Mr. Persson concluded. “This is very encouraging news for our customers, for Volvo Construction Equipment and the whole of the Volvo Group.”
Text: Charlie Ebers