4th EU Macro-Regional Strategies Week Online Stakeholder Session “Tackling the energy crisis in transport – smart solutions from MRS for a joint policy dialogue

Offical Logo of the 4th EU MRS Week 2023
Meeting topic: 

“Transform to thrive” was this year’s overall motto of the 4th EU MRS week. However, what does “thriving” look like in different Macro-Regions of the EU? With regard to numerous global crisis, such as the energy crisis, the after-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing war in Ukraine, this was no easy question to answer.

Moderator Helen Lückge welcomed five high-class experts from different MRS on April 25th. The online stakeholder session had a special interest in exploring how the MRS can contribute with specific solutions to tackle the energy crisis. The challenge to boost energy efficiency and to reduce the dependency on fossil fuels is a shared one, albeit the approaches and initial situations differ from region to region. Purpose of the stakeholder session was to explore success factors and to learn from the challenges and opportunities. The audience was able to participate actively by answering polls and engaging in discussions.  

As transport is Europe’s largest energy consumer and accounts for roughly 30% of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions, the experts were given the opportunity to address how the different MRS can develop model-region approaches to reduce energy consumption in the transport sector. The cross-sectoral and cross-border nature of macro-regions enables a detailed insight on cooperation, synergies and the implementation of innovative approaches.

Marko Kovač, senior researcher at the Energy Efficiency Centre of Jožef Stefan Institute in Ljubljana presented an overview on energy performance of the transport sector. By using latest and historic data, he highlighted that the EU overall is still heavily reliant on road transportation. . The current stagnation of the modal shift has to be evaluated critically. The problems and hurdles were illustrated with hands-on examples, which above all pointed to starting points for even more concrete need for action.

Representing the oldest macro-region, the Baltic Sea region, Mirka Laurila Pant shared information on the ongoing energy transition in the shipping sector. The speaker was able to present some best practice examples. Various factors, such as weather conditions, infrastructure and the vast range of regulations have to be taken into account in this macro-region’s actions. Digitalisation, the use of alternative fuels and the improvement of energy efficiency are only some solutions Laurila Pant and her colleagues implement already in their work.   

Shipping is also a vital component of the regional economy in the Danube Region. Viktoria Weissenburger is Team Manager for the Action Programmes at Viadonau. Weissenburger underlined the complexity of inland waterway shipping that is often underestimated. As more than 60 % of the Danube fleet was built between 1971 and 1990, the renewal of the fleet and the implementation of different zero-emission technologies is no step that can be done overnight. Especially, it needs to be ensured that the business case for this region-specific transport solution is also maintained in the future. From policy regulations, financial instruments to research and development, once again, energy efficiency on a macro-regional scale is achieved by combining various elements.

Franc Žepič, also representing the Danube Region, presented the audience further insights into this macro-region’s transport situation beyond the inland waterways topic. Rail, road and air are the areas of his interest. The Danube Region Transport Days in November 2022, an event with 21 distinguished speakers and more than 100 participants also underlines the will of this macro-region to face the challenges.

Etienne Vienot from the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Energy Environment Agency in France pointed at the complexity of the Alpine Region due to its geographic features. Tourism and transport play a key role in the macro-region’s economy. The overall aim is to implement in both sectors innovations in order to be prepared for the challenges of the 21st century.

The online stakeholder session ended with a discussion of success factors for better addressing the cross-sectoral interfaces at macroregional scope, the role of the MRS to develop model-region approaches as well cooperation needs within and across the MRS. The event showed that joining forces beyond the individual macro-regions offers benefits, especially with regard to shaping EU legislation. To continue this discussion, Transport Coordinators from different macro-regions propose to follow-up the discussion with a policy-dialogue.


Helen Lückge - Moderator

Marko Kovač 

Mirka Laurila Pant 

Viktoria Weissenburger

Franc Žepič

Etienne Vienot