The 31st Regional Assembly Europe was opened by Regional President, Mr Francisco Cardoso dos Reis (IP, Portugal), who took the opportunity to highlight not only UIC’s achievements in the difficult context of the 2020 global pandemic, but also how the European region had played a significant role in maintaining forward momentum.
Together with Mr Simon Fletcher, UIC’s Director Europe, Mr Cardoso dos Reis set out the roadmap for 2021 and, in particular, some of the activities being developed in conjunction with the European Year of Rail 2021.
The Assembly fully supported the focus for 2021, including UIC’s involvement in Europe’s Rail, the successor to Shift2Rail, the development of the latest version of the Railway Technical Strategy Europe (RTSE 2021) and the need for the railways to play a highly visible role at COP 26, which will take place in Glasgow in November 2021.
The UIC team presented the progress made during the year with regard to the regional budget, standardisation and research, and the projects being developed for launch in 2021:
- The regional budget is well-balanced and the regional budget for 2021 was approved,
- The Projects Work Programme 2021 was presented and supported by the members,
- The RAE took note of the report on standardisation and the creation of the European Standardisation Management Group in November 2020,
- The meeting participants were presented with an overview of topics relating to research and innovation, with a report on funded projects secured in 2020 under Shift2Rail and Horizon 2020 and updates on ERRAC and RICG.
The new strategic approach to improving cooperation with the other UIC regions was presented by Mr François Davenne, UIC Director General, and was fully supported by the RAE.
Strategic discussions on the working relationship with UNIFE, evolution of the agreement with the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking, UIC’s involvement in Europe’s Rail and work to develop Acceptable Means of Compliance (AMoCs) with ERA were also explored and were supported by the Assembly.
Despite the strange circumstances of 2020, the meeting was very upbeat about the successes that had been achieved. The members expressed the hope that 2021 would be a better year and would bring opportunities. The members of the UIC HQ team were thanked for their contribution to the meeting’s success and the work completed in 2020, and particular thanks went to the Europe team for their efforts.
The President concluded by thanking the members and wishing them the best for 2021.
The President and the Director General addressed a special message to Mr Libor Lochman, who is leaving his position as Executive Director of CER at the end of this year. They hope to be able to continue the excellent cooperation with the CER team under its new Executive Director, Mr Alberto Mazzola, who will take up his post on 1 January 2021.