Transporting the future: How automation is transforming society? | 6 June 2024


Join us for an insightful discussion on transportation automation through the societal lens! This event is hosted by Mrs Emmanuelle Vandamme, President of the Belgian Federal Public Service Mobility & Transport.

Event details

Do you have any questions? Contact us at transport.automation@eu24.be


The development of automation within the transport sector is reshaping industries, communities, and economies worldwide, heralding both unprecedented opportunities and profound challenges for stakeholders, particularly within the EU context, where transport authorities play a pivotal role in guiding the transition towards automated systems.

The overarching goal of this conference is to foster a comprehensive understanding of the societal implications stemming from automation across various transportation modes, from navigation to road, air, and rail. With a particular focus on initiatives, challenges, and strategies, participants will engage in panel discussions to explore the multifaceted opportunities afforded by automation while also examining its broader societal impacts including the evolving landscape of work. Ultimately, the conference endeavours to foster dialogue and collaboration among authorities and stakeholders to develop strategies and governance frameworks that support a sustainable and inclusive transition towards automation in the transport sector.

Provisional programme

The speeches and panels to be held over the course of the one-day event will feature high-level guests.

9:00 Registration and welcome coffee



Welcome speeches

Mrs Emmanuelle VANDAMME, President of the Belgian Federal Public Service Mobility & Transport

Mr Georges GILKINET, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Mobility



Mr Michel SAVY, Moderator

Panel 1 : On the road to automation: Belgian initiatives across transport modes



This panel will focus on exploring the opportunities offered by automation in each mode of transport. Some Belgian initiatives will be showcased in order to illustrate achievements and potential advancements, highlighting the dynamism and innovation in Belgium. The panellists will also share the lessons learned from their projects and their perspectives on future actions.


  • Mr Jo WILLEMYNS, COO Food Retail, Colruyt Group
  • Ms Peggy DEVESTEL, COO, skeyes
  • Mr Sam DE SMET, Co-founder, OTIV
  • Ms Karen VAN BRUSSEL, Port of Antwerp–Bruges
10:55 Coffee break
Panel 2 : Understanding the societal implications of transport automation

Transport automation has a wide range of impacts on society. While it is relatively straightforward to envision direct effects, there are a multitude of indirect consequences that will affect society as a whole, from individual experiences to the overall attractiveness of an entire city or region. This panel will provide the opportunity to tackle the societal implications of automation and the key challenges it faces, particularly in terms of social acceptance (of automation) and the risks of exclusion that need to be avoided to ensure a fair transition.


  • Ms Evy Rombaut, Researcher, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)
  • Mr Agustin Reyna, Director Legal and Economic Affairs, The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC)
  • Mr Damien DEROANNE, Senior Consultant, ROMAX Consult
  • Mr Jean-François REVAH, Psychosociologist
12u30 Walking lunch

Panel 3 : The future of work: Challenges and opportunities of an automated transport system


Automation is already fundamentally changing the nature of work and will continue to do so as the transition to automation progresses. The challenges faced by the different transport modes/sectors, notably when it comes to training, re-skilling and potential job losses will be addressed, as well as the opportunities that automation offers to reduce labour shortages in some areas.


  • Ms Livia SPERA, General Secretary, European Transport Worker’s Federation
  • Mr Pedro HOMEM DE GOUVEIA, Senior Policy Advisor, POLIS Network
  • Mr Camille COMBE, Transport Innovation Analyst, International Transport Forum - OECD
  • Mr Simon COLLET, Innovative Mobility Expert, TEC
15:15 Coffee break
Panel 4 : Transition towards automation: challenges and strategies

This panel will explore models and governance frameworks to smoothly run this transition. Panellists will discuss about the conditions needed to lead the change and ensure the sustainable transition to automation is well carried forward.


  • Ms Elisabeth KOTTHAUS, Head of Unit, European Commission – DG Move
  • Ms Julie MARIEN, Coordinator of the Flemish Taskforce on Autonomous Transports, Flemish Administration - Departement Mobiliteit en Openbare Werken (MOW)
  • Mr Xavier TACKOEN, Managing Director, Espaces Mobilités
  • Mr Pierre COURBE, Policy Officer Mobility, CANOPEA asbl

Mr Michel SAVY, Moderator

17:00 End of the Conference
Networking event
17:15 Visit to the Magritte Museum
18:15 Networking cocktail
20:00 End of the event

More information on the speakers