Transport and Covid-19: responses and resources
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History of ITF

 

"Knowing your past is important to find a good way forward. Only if we know how we have become what we are can we make wise choices for the next steps. This is as true for institutions as for humans. Organisations that proudly build on their past are stronger, more resilient, better equipped to face the future. The International Transport Forum was created in 2006, so it is a young organisation. But its roots go back almost seven decades ─ what is today the ITF was founded in 1953 as the European Conference of Ministers of Transport, the ECMT. This page invites you to explore the long line of achievement that underpins today’s ITF, a young and dynamic organisation with a long and distinguished pedigree."

Young Tae Kim
ITF Secretary-General


1945

An overcrowded train in a German train station, 1945

The Second World War ends. Tens of millions of people have died, are displaced or have otherwise lost their livelihoods. Much of the transport infrastructure of Europe, Asia and elsewhere is destroyed or damaged. The lack of functioning transport is a major challenge for a new start into a more peacful future. (Image: Deutsche Fotothek)

1953

French Prime Minister René Mayer (r.) and Foreign Minister Georges Bidault (l.) open talks on a “European Transport Pool” in Paris on 29 January 1953

French Prime Minister René Mayer (r.) and Foreign Minister Georges Bidault (l.) open talks on a “European Transport Pool” in Paris on 29 January 1953.

Ministers of 16 nations sign the “Protocol concerning the European Conference of Ministers of Transport” in Brussels on 17 October 1953

Ministers of 16 nations sign the “Protocol concerning the European Conference of Ministers of Transport” in Brussels on 17 October 1953.

 ECMT protocol image

The founders of the ECMT are Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom - plus the Anglo-American Zone of the Free Territory of Trieste. The US and Canada are invited as associate members. Belgium is the first country to take over the annually rotating ECMT Presidency. Michel Mange from Belgium becomes the first Secretary-General of the ECMT (1953-66). 

The ECMT creates “a procedure whereby effective steps can be taken to co-ordinate and rationalise European inland transport of international importance”. 

Baudouin, King of the Belgians, congratulates signatories of the ECMT Protocol at a royal reception.

1954

France holds the ECMT Presidency for 1954.

1955 

Switzerland holds the ECMT Presidency for 1955. 
Yugoslavia joins the ECMT.

Eurofima convention image

The ECMT adopts the Convention to set up EUROFIMA, a supranational organisation for the financing of railroad stock.  

Michel Mange photo 

The 1955 annual report notes “a very simple operation” had been set up, “by appointing only one official”: Secretary-General Michel Mange (on the right). 

1956

Germany holds the ECMT Presidency for 1956.

1957

Italy holds the ECMT Presidency for 1957.

1957 ECMT meeting in Rome image

In March, the Treaty of Rome establishes the European Economic Community. ECMT ministers meet in the Eternal City six months later under the Presidency of Italy to plan Europe’s transport future.

1958

The United Kingdom holds the ECMT Presidency for 1958.

1959

France holds the ECMT Presidency for 1959.

1960

The Netherlands holds the ECMT Presidency for 1960.

1961

Austria holds the ECMT Presidency for 1961.

1962

Norway holds the ECMT Presidency for 1962.

1963 

Belgium holds the ECMT Presidency for 1963.

ECMT first day issue stamp 1963 image
10th anniversary of the ECMT. Belgium, birthplace of the organisation and Presidency country in 1963, issues a first-day stamp on the occasion. 

Ireland joins the ECMT.

1964

France holds the ECMT Presidency for 1964.

1965

Portugal holds the ECMT Presidency for 1965.

1966

Switzerland holds the ECMT Presidency for 1966.

Edmond Corbin photo

Edmond Corbin becomes the second Secretary-General of the ECMT (1966-76).

Olof Palme

Olof Palme (c.), later Swedish Prime Minister and Nobel laureate, and legendary British Labour politician Barbara Castle (r.) at an ECMT meeting in Paris in 1966.

1967

Germany holds the ECMT Presidency for 1967.

1968

Ireland holds the ECMT Presidency for 1968. 
The ECMT Economic Research Centre is set up to support policy making. It has since held more than 150 Roundtables and 18 symposia.

1969

Sweden holds the ECMT Presidency for 1969.

3rd ECMT Symposium image

The ECMT holds its Third International Symposium on Theory and Practice in Transport Economics in Rome from 23-26 September 1969. 
Japan joins the ECMT.

1970

Italy holds the ECMT Presidency for 1970.

1971

Spain holds the ECMT Presidency for 1971.

1972

The United Kingdom holds the ECMT Presidency for 1972.

1973

The Netherlands holds the ECMT Presidency for 1973. 
Australia joins the ECMT as an Associate Member.

In 1973, Ministers agree on a truck license system for multiple cross-border trips to facilitate international road transport. 

1974

Austria holds the ECMT Presidency for 1974.

1975

Denmark holds the ECMT Presidency for 1975. 
Finland joins the ECMT and Canada joins as an Associate Member.

1976

France holds the ECMT Presidency for 1976. 
Georges Billet becomes the third Secretary-General (1976-83).

1977

Greece holds the ECMT Presidency for 1977. 
The United States joins the ECMT as an Associate Member.

1978

Belgium holds the ECMT Presidency for 1978.

1979

Yugoslavia holds the ECMT Presidency for 1979.

1980

Germany holds the ECMT Presidency for 1980.

1981

Finland holds the ECMT Presidency for 1981.

Council of Ministers meeting in Helsinki

The Council of Ministers meeting in Helsinki in 1981. Finland had joined the ECMT in 1975.

1982

Ireland holds the ECMT Presidency for 1982.

Agreement on the International Carriage of Passengers by Road (ASOR)

The Agreement on the International Carriage of Passengers by Road (ASOR) is signed under ECMT‘s auspices in 1982.

1983

Portugal holds the ECMT Presidency for 1983. 
Jan Terlouw from the Netherlands becomes the fourth Secretary-General (1983-91).

1984

Norway holds the ECMT Presidency for 1984.

1985

Italy holds the ECMT Presidency for 1985.

ECMT delegation meets the Pope 1985 photo

An ECMT delegation meets Pope John Paul II in the Vatican.

TGV

High Speed Rail: An ECMT delegation inspects France’s pioneering TGV, or Train à Grande Vitesse, in 1985.

1986

Switzerland holds the ECMT Presidency for 1986.

1987

Spain holds the ECMT Presidency for 1987.

1988

Luxembourg holds the ECMT Presidency for 1988.

International Road Traffic and Accident Database (IRTAD)

In 1988, the OECD’s Road Transport Research Programme starts the International Road Traffic and Accident Database (IRTAD). Since 2004, IRTAD is managed by ECMT/ITF.

1989

The United Kingdom holds the ECMT Presidency for 1989.

1990

Sweden holds the ECMT Presidency for 1990.
In 1990, the ECMT is awarded the prestigious Prognos Prize for its “foresightful and dedicated work for the co-ordination of transport policy decisions on a pan-European level”.

1991

Turkey holds the ECMT Presidency for 1991. 
Hungary and Poland join the ECMT and New Zealand becomes an Associate Member.

1992

Greece holds the ECMT Presidency for 1992. 
Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Slovenia join the ECMT.
Gerhard Aurbach of Germany becomes the fifth Secretary-General (1992-2001).

Jan Terlouw and Gerhard Aurbach

Jan Terlouw (l.), Secretary-General 1983-91, and Gerhard Aurbach (r.), Secretary-General 1992-2001.

1993

The Netherlands holds the ECMT Presidency for 1993. 
Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Czech Republic and Slovakia join the ECMT.
The ECMT celebrates its 40th anniversary. Secretary-General Gerhard Aurbach reviews the organisations achievements in an article for the Transport Review.

Pan-European Corridors

The concept of Pan-European Corridors is first mentioned at an ECMT meeting in the Netherlands in 1993.

1994

France holds the ECMT Presidency for 1994. 
Moldova joins the ECMT.

1995

Austria holds the ECMT Presidency for 1995.

1996

Hungary holds the ECMT Presidency for 1996. 
Belarus, North Macedonia and Ukraine join the ECMT.

1997

Germany holds the ECMT Presidency for 1997. 
Georgia and Russia join the ECMT.

1998

Denmark holds the ECMT Presidency for 1998. 
Albania, Azerbaijan and Iceland join the ECMT.

1999

Poland holds the ECMT Presidency for 1999. 

Charter on Access to Transport Services and Infrastructure

The Charter on Access to Transport Services and Infrastructure is agreed by ECMT in 1999. Pictured is an exhibition outside OECD highlighting transport accessibility.

2000

Czech Republic holds the ECMT Presidency for 2000. 
Korea and Liechtenstein join the ECMT.

2001

Portugal holds the ECMT Presidency for 2001. 
Serbia joins the ECMT. 
Jack Short of Ireland is elected Secretary-General by member country ministers (2001-11).

2002

Romania holds the ECMT Presidency for 2002. 
Malta joins the ECMT.

2003

Belgium holds the ECMT Presidency for 2003. 
Armenia and Mexico join the ECMT.

Principal Acts of the ECMT

On the occasion of its 50th anniversary, the ECMT published its "acquis", or Principal Acts of the ECMT.

2004

Slovenia holds the ECMT Presidency for 2004.

In 2004, the transport research of OECD and ECMT is merged in the Joint Transport Research Centre, managed by ECMT. The first JTRC Symposium is held in Berlin in 2007.

2005

Russia holds the ECMT Presidency for 2005.

2006

The International Transport Forum (ITF) was created on 18 May 2006 by ministers from 43 countries. The roots of ITF go back to 1953, when 16 European nations established the European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT), an international organisation by treaty, to “coordinate and rationalise European inland transport of international importance”. The ECMT remains the legal core of today’s International Transport Forum.

Dublin Declaration

With the Dublin Declaration of 2006, Ministers transform the ECMT to a new global, all modes organisation.

Ireland holds the ITF Presidency for 2006. 
Montenegro joins the ITF.

2007

Bulgaria holds the ITF Presidency for 2007.

2008

Finland holds the ITF Presidency for 2008. 

Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel is the keynote speaker.

1st ITF Annual Summit in Leipzig, Germany, on the topic "Transport and Energy". Germany's Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel is the keynote speaker. View the Key Messages from Ministers at the Summit.

2009

Australia holds the ITF Presidency for 2009. 
2nd ITF Annual Summit in Leipzig on the topic "Transport for a Global Economy". View the Key Messages from Ministers at the Summit. 
India joins the ITF.

2010

Canada holds the ITF Presidency for 2010. 
3rd ITF Annual Summit in Leipzig on the topic "Transport and Innovation". View the Key Messages from Ministers at the Summit.

2011

Spain holds the ITF Presidency for 2011. 
4th ITF Annual Summit in Leipzig on the topic "Transport and Society". View Key Messages from Ministers at the Summit.
China joins the ITF. 

Secretary-General Jack Short retires after ten years in office and Carole Coune of Belgium is elected Secretary-General. Following her resignation in the same year, Hans Michael Kloth, ITF's Head of Communications, takes over as Acting Secretary-General until member country ministers can elect a successor at the following 2012 Summit.

2012

Japan holds the ITF Presidency for 2012. 
5th ITF Annual Summit in Leipzig on the topic "Seamless Transport". View the Ministerial Declaration.
Chile joins the ITF. 

José Viegas of Portugal is elected ITF Secretary-General by member country ministers (2012-17).

2013

Norway holds the ITF Presidency for 2013. 
6th ITF Annual Summit in Leipzig on the topic "Funding Transport". View the Ministerial Declaration.

2014

France holds the ITF Presidency for 2014. 
7th ITF Annual Summit in Leipzig on the topic "Transport for a Changing World". View the Ministerial Declaration.

The Corporate Partnership Board is created and welcomes its first members 

2015

New Zealand holds the ITF Presidency for 2015. 
8th ITF Annual Summit in Leipzig on the topic "Transport, Trade and Tourism". View the Ministerial Declaration.
Argentina, Israel and Morocco join the ITF.

2016

Denmark holds the ITF Presidency for 2016. 
9th ITF Annual Summit in Leipzig on the topic "Green and Inclusive Transport". View the Ministerial Declaration.

2017

Mexico holds the ITF Presidency for 2017. 
10th ITF Annual Summit in Leipzig on the topic "Governance of Transport". View the Minsterial Declaration.
Kazakhstan and the United Arab Emirates join the ITF. 

Ministers and VIPs assembled for the 2017 Summit family photo in Leipzig, Germany, on 31 May 2017

10th ITF Annual Summit on the topic "Governance of Transport"  in Leipzig, Germany, from 30 May to 1 June 2017.  Photo: Ministers and VIPs assemble for the Summit family photo.

Incoming ITF Secretary-General Young Tae Kim (on the left) with Mexico's Secretary of Communication and Transport, Gerardo Ruíz Espárza (centre), and outgoing ITF Secretary-General José Viegas after his election on 20 May 2017

Young Tae Kim of Korea is elected ITF Secretary-General by member country ministers. Mexico's Secretary of Communications, Gerardo Ruíz Espárza (centre), and predecessor José Viegas (on the right) congratulate.  

2018

Latvia holds the ITF Presidency for 2018. 
11th ITF Annual Summit in Leipzig on the topic "Transport Safety and Security". View the Ministerial Declaration.

2019

Korea holds the ITF Presidency for 2019. 
12th ITF Annual Summit in Leipzig on the topic "Transport Connectivity for Regional Integration". View the Ministerial Declaration.
Tunisia joins the ITF. 

2020

Ireland holds the ITF Presidency for 2020. 
The 13th ITF Annual Summit is postponed as a result of the global Covid-19 pandemic. The Secretariat organises a host of online events for member countries and creates the "Transport and Covid-19: responses and resources" web hub.