BRUSSELS – A first set of technical standards saying how European manufacturers should build technologies that enable vehicles to communicate with each other and with roadside communications infrastructure has been released.

The European Committee for Standardization (CEN) and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) have issued an initial set of standards for cooperative intelligence transport systems (C-ITS) – called Release 1 – following a request from the European Commission in 2009. Technical committees in both bodies continue to develop more standards on intelligent transport systems.

At present the EC has no plans to write these standards into mandatory European Union vehicle regulations. But Ryan Heath, the spokesman for EU digital agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes, says the commission may consider adopting “normative measures” if the standards are not heeded.

“Having suitable standards for cooperative intelligent-transport systems is vital for enabling European manufacturers to produce the next generation of connected cars," CEN Director General Elena Santiago has said. "The Release 1 specifications will be tested under real road conditions and may be improved if necessary.”

“The Commission is supporting and promoting the deployment of these systems and continuing to support standardization activities,” Heath says. The EC’s goal is to “steer the consensus among the different stakeholders involved in the deployment (including automakers, suppliers, telecom companies, road operators, service providers and traffic managers) to promote smooth implementation” of the technology.

Cooperation also is under way with agencies such as the International Organization for Standardization to promote global harmonization of technical standards for intelligent transport systems, Heath notes.

Lawmakers in Brussels hope to see connected cars on the road as soon as 2015. Authorities in Austria, Germany and the Netherlands already have agreed to cooperate on installing roadside communication infrastructure.

“For connected cars to become a reality, it is up to national and regional authorities who are in charge of transport infrastructure as well as car manufacturers and of consumers,” CEN Communications Manager Ben Carlin tells WardsAuto. “But how many people are willing to pay extra for a vehicle that has additional functionalities?”

Kroes counters the new guidelines will help promote the development of connected cars: “Direct communication between vehicles and infrastructures will ensure safer and more efficient traffic flows, with great benefits for drivers, pedestrians, the environment and our economy,” she says. “Europe should grab this opportunity to show its digital advantage and get out in front in the race to develop the next generation of cars.”

The International Automobile Federation (FIA) has welcomed EU plans for developing open, standardized and secure telematics platforms and wants the EC to ensure multiple service providers can access and use them.

“When it comes to connected vehicles we must make sure that the consumer, who will be the one paying for the technology, is informed and gives consent before their data is shared,” Jacob Bangsgaard, director-general of FIA Region I (Europe, Middle East and Africa) tells WardsAuto.