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Jordan is a valued partner for us Europeans at global, regional and bilateral level. We in particular admire Jordan’s central role in promoting stability, moderation and inter-faith tolerance in the Middle East. We recognise that this is no easy task, but your huge efforts here do not go unnoticed in Europe.
Today our cooperation is structured around three core objectives: macro-economic stability and sustainable and knowledge-based growth; strengthening democratic governance, the rule of law and human rights; and regional stability and security, including counter-terrorism. Beyond national development objectives, our cooperation strategy aims to support Jordan’s progress towards mutually agreed commitments at regional level, including in the areas of energy, the environment, climate change and transport.
A key objective of my visit to Jordan is to shine a spotlight on an aspect of transport that is particularly dear to me: road safety. The WHO estimates that 2,306 people died on Jordan’s roads in 2016. That means 2,306 lives wasted, 2,306 mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives and children – multiple times that number of lives torn apart. This is without including those seriously injured on roads. This loss of life is avoidable. We must no longer allow this silent killer of our times to roam our roads – in Europe or in Jordan.
During my visit to Jordan, I hope to be able to share my political vision based on the knowledge, good practices and policies built up in the EU with my hosts in Jordan. And of course, I look forward to hearing about Jordan’s experiences and ideas so that we may learn from one another. I know that Jordan also takes road safety seriously.
Between 2001 and 2010, the EU managed to cut the number of road deaths by 43%, and between 2010 and 2017 by another 20%. The numbers are impressive, but I personally will not be happy until we have zero road traffic fatalities and serious injuries in the EU. Every life counts. This is the idea behind our Vision Zero approach to road safety.
From our experience in the EU, I would suggest that Jordan’s journey towards its own Vision Zero begins with the adoption of a ‘safe systems’ approach. This recognises that accidents will happen, but focuses on keeping road-users and pedestrians safe, offering multiple layers of protection in terms of roads and roadsides, speeds, vehicles and road use. So if one part of the system fails, other parts will still protect those involved.
I would also invite Jordan to draft a clear road safety strategy, including aspirational targets and targeted measures. The measures might include actions on vehicle and infrastructure safety. And to measure progress towards these targets, quality and comparable data are of course indispensable, along with the continuous monitoring of results. Without evaluation, how can you know whether you are on the right track, and adjust measures if not?
Finally, we have found that enforcing traffic rules and providing better education for road users , has a major impact on road safety in the EU. We have found our annual Mobility Week and Project Edward (European Day Without A Road Death) to be particularly effective here.
I look forward to hearing views on the EU’s approach during my visit to Jordan. The EU’s door is of course always open to Jordan and any country or region in the world wishing to learn more about how we have brought down road accident fatalities in Europe. Information shared means lives saved – there can be no reward greater than that.