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Third European Road Research Conference

Final Report Summary - ERRC3 (Third European Road Research Conference)

The 'FEHRL Road Research meeting' (FeRRM 05) was held in Brussels in June 2005 under the framework of the 'Third European Road Research Conference' (ERRC3). The objectives of ERRC3 were to establish effective synergies between research efforts, engage a wide range of stakeholders and, ultimately, support the realisation and strengthening of the European Research Area in the road transport field.

An additional objective was to consider options for future conferences supporting road research in Europe. As a result, during the development of FeRRM 05, the organisation of the Transport Research Arena (TRA) 2006 became a reality. Set to take place in Goteborg on 12-15 June 2006, TRA 2006's main theme will be the implementation of the European Research Area (ERA) in support of a sustainable, safer and more efficient road transport system in Europe:

The conference was structured around topical strategic and technical sessions where leading experts using practical examples provided insight into the needs in road research and, ultimately, contributed to the formulation of the research conducted during the timeframe of the Seventh Research Framework Programme (FP7).

The well-packed three-day presentations, keynote addresses and panel discussions identified an increasing trend in the way research work is carried out. The emphasis has clearly shifted from individual technology oriented projects to a more holistic programme. The conference also stressed the importance of involving end-users in the implementation process.

The participation of a large delegation from five different Directorates General of the European Commission - DG Transport, DG Research, DG Information Society, DG Environment and DG Enterprise - highlighted the high priority that road research has on the European agenda.

FeRRM 05 delegates had the opportunity to meet and network in the exhibition area filled with stands from many organisations with a stake in road transport. The conference also hosted a number of satellite meetings bringing together FEHRL's partners in many activities. Among these were CALM II (a coordination action for advanced transport noise mitigation) which held a well attended workshop for managers of European noise projects.

Additionally, the ERRC3 project contributed to the preparation of a major event in June 2006 - the TRA 2006 conference – being organised by CEDR (Conference of European Directors of Roads), ERTRAC (European Road Transport Research Advisory Council) and the European Commission. Its main theme is the implementation of the European Research Area (ERA) to support the development of a more sustainable, safer and efficient road transport system. In this regard a press launch was organised to introduce the large scope of the TRA 2006 conference initiative to FeRRM 05 delegates and journalists.

The conference programme was designed to contribute to the cohesive development of the European Research Area (ERA) in the field of roads and of road transport in general. The emphasis was laid on the definition of research needs coupled with a sound assessment of resources, with particular focus on closer integration of Europe's road research capacity. A well-thought distributed approach towards road research would respond better to local differences across Europe. An additional focus was on possible solutions to face the increasing growth of the road system in towns, cities and major highways.

The inclusion in the programme of strategic sessions promoted the generation of relevant knowledge and achievement of consensus on research priorities for the implementation of ERA. The involvement of non-research organisations in the session debates provided a wider perspective to research issues.

In addition, FeRRM 05 marked a shift from the academic type of conference to theme-oriented sessions hosted by flagship projects. Sessions were broadened out to correlated and linked projects. In doing so, knowledge was exchanged at the program level and the scope of the sessions was then expanded to cover a wider range of issues of interest to participants. This effectiveness of this approach was recognised at FeRRM 05 and it will be adopted for TRA 2006 conference.

A special effort was also made towards the active participation of the road infrastructure industry that is keen to develop and test new techniques and innovations. This certainly contributed to prepare the ground for future initiatives based on sound public-private partnerships.

ERRC3 encouraged knowledge-sharing and 'cross-fertilisation' by bringing together people working on synergetic issues, who found an immediate added-value in exchanging experiences and in discussing integration for future research and innovation in a European dimension. In particular, ERRC3 succeeded in integrating the results of European as well as national projects and programmes to respond better to the challenges raised by the ERA with respect to the need for enabling and promoting a more harmonised approach in European research.

Additionally, the partnerships created in the context of the ERTRAC and the ECTP technology platform in the construction sector provided direct access to a variety of relevant stakeholders. This includes the industry, road operators, local and national governments, research institutes, NGOs, academia and the European Commission. To reinforce these links and synergies, ERRC3 closely involved certain members of ERTRAC and ECTP in the organisation of the European Conference. The conference programme was carefully tailored to provide the multi-stakeholder community with opportunities to highlight priorities for the formulation of a comprehensive road research plan.