Siim Kallas, European Commission
As Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for Transport, I am determined that we need a strong and competitive transport industry at the heart of the economy - and I am convinced that transport investment will be an important factor in restoring growth - and jobs - to Europe. Europe depends on trade, so transport links with our neighbours and beyond are equally important.
As we develop our networks, we need to ensure we have the capacity to deal with growth (expected to be around 80% in freight in the EU by 2050), as well as the ability to face the challenges of reducing transport's dependence on fossil fuels and combating climate change. To reach these objectives, we need rail to play a big role - indeed a much bigger role than it plays in much of Europe today.
It is in particular on long freight journeys that rail should be the land transport mode of choice. We are working hard to eliminate the obstacles which hinder international traffic in the EU and prevent Europe having a real and efficient Single European Railway Area - I will propose further measures to deliver this later in the year. But many long distance flows depend on good links between the 1435 and 1520mm railway systems - not only trade with Russia and central Asia but also across it to China and the Far East.
This conference will give us the chance to deepen our cooperation, identify possibilities for further development, but also to address any differences and difficulties which are hindering the development we all desire.