Polis held workshop on local authorities and European networking

Polis held a workshop in Dublin on 5 June on the benefits of European networking for local authorities. Representatives of Dublin and Brussels shared their experiences of European engagement over the past 10 years. Brussels experience focused on its involvement in a suite of ITS projects and how these projects had helped the region progress its own ITS policy and systems deployment. Dublin's involvement focused primarily on the usefulness of networking to learn about how other cities are doing things and to engage with the European institutions. Various practical examples were shown of how Dublin had adopted measures implemented elsewhere, such as the bicycle counting machine (seen in Aalborg) and the joint running of trams and buses at stops (seen in Dresden).

Ertico and Polis also gave an overview of what they are doing to support their respective members to network, influence European policy and avail of European funding for transport projects. The European Commission shared its plans for the next research and innovation programme, called Horizon2020, which should start in 2014. Local transport is addressed in the programme, within the 'societal challenges' section.

A discussion at the end of the workshop focused on how to encourage more local authorities to get involved in European projects. Concern was expressed that it is the same types of organisations (public and private) which tend to get involved in most of the projects. This was considered neither healthy, nor representative of the wider community. One way around this is to create 'follower groups' within projects, for cities and industry, and to ensure adequate funding for this activity. Another barrier to project involvement relates to the common perception that projects are not part of the core work, but seen as additional work. This is a misconception and really needs to be addressed. There was also a call to simplify the bureaucracy around projects. The language barrier was also raised as another obstacle, especially in the public sector.