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  • Writer's pictureEmre Can Anlar

Twelve years of the Vaals Treaty: Dr. Andreas Pfeiffer on the evolution of e-roaming services in Europe

In our “Behind the Scenes” today we take a look at the developments of e-roaming in electromobility. On the occasion of the 12th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Vaals, an important starting point for developments in this area, we speak to Dr. Andreas Pfeiffer. Dr. Pfeiffer, one of the pioneers in the field, played an important role in shaping the early days of e-mobility infrastructure in Europe and looks back and looks ahead to the developments, challenges and successes in this dynamic sector.


Treaty of Vaals in March 2012 as the starting point for e-roaming in Europe
Treaty of Vaals in March 2012 as the starting point for e-roaming in Europe

The Vaals contract was signed twelve years ago, a milestone for interoperability in e-mobility in Europe. Could you tell us a little about how this initiative came about?

Dr. Pfeiffer: The initiative for the Vaals contract arose from the realization that e-mobility should know no borders. It became clear to us early on that the success of electromobility depends on cross-border cooperation. Back in 2012, we took the first step with our partners from six countries to create a uniform, cross-border charging network.

 

Dr. Pfeiffer, you played a key role in the Vaals Treaty, a milestone for interoperability in the field of e-mobility in Europe. What does this anniversary mean for you personally?

Dr. Andreas Pfeiffer: For me, the anniversary is a moment to pause and be happy about how far we have come. The signing of the Vaals Treaty and the introduction of e-clearing.net as the technical basis for roaming were real pioneering works. It shows that visionary thinking and cross-border collaboration can lay the foundation for sustainable innovation.

 

What were the biggest challenges in the early days of interoperability and how were they overcome?

Dr. Pfeiffer: One of the biggest challenges was certainly the technical implementation of interoperability. We had to find a common language between different charging systems and operators. With the development of e-clearing.net , we created a solid technical foundation that made it possible to seamlessly exchange data and information between operators.

 

What role do security aspects play in this system, and is there anything you would have done differently in retrospect?

Dr. Pfeiffer: Looking back, the focus on “built-in security” should have been stronger. In the early days, we understood the importance of security, but we underestimated the depth and complexity required for a system that is top-secure as critical infrastructure from the start. In particular, the topic of RFID cards was viewed too loosely and not thought through. Today we know that every technology we implement must be provided with the highest possible security standards in order to proactively address risks and vulnerabilities.

 


To what extent has the Vaals Treaty changed the landscape of e-mobility in Europe?

Dr. Pfeiffer: The Vaals contract was a catalyst for e-mobility in Europe. By creating an interoperable network, we were able to significantly simplify the use of electric vehicles across national borders. This has not only led to an increase in the acceptance of electric vehicles, but also laid the foundation for further growth in this sector. The initial challenges of interoperability and roaming are now largely considered to have been solved. This is a testament to how effective our collective efforts have been.

 

They were later also founding managing directors of Hubject. How do you see Hubject's role in the development of e-mobility?

Dr. Pfeiffer: Hubject has played a central role in pushing the idea of roaming internationally. Our vision has always been to make charging electric cars as easy as using a cell phone. By connecting charging station operators and energy suppliers on our platform, we were able to make this vision a reality. In addition to Hubject, GIREVE and e-Clearing.net also represent an important basis for interoperability in electromobility.

 

12 years later: How do you assess the current situation and what are the next steps for e-mobility in Europe?

Dr. Pfeiffer: Today we see that the foundations we have laid have led to widespread acceptance and impressive growth in electromobility. The next steps will be to further expand the charging infrastructure, shorten charging times, make vehicle-to-grid usable across the board and thus convert the energy supply for charging to 100% renewable sources. It is also important to strengthen cross-border cooperation and integrate new technologies to make electromobility even more user-friendly.

 

A final word for our readers?

Dr. Pfeiffer: The future of mobility is electric, and each of us can help shape this future. It's an exciting time to be part of this change and I look forward to seeing where this journey takes us.

 

After an in-depth insight into the beginnings, current developments and future prospects of e-mobility in Europe, the conversation with Dr. Andreas Pfeiffer clearly shows how far the sector has come and what opportunities still exist. The initiative from Vaals to the founding of Hubject and beyond illustrates the importance of vision, collaboration and technological innovation for the success of e-mobility. Particularly noteworthy is Dr. Pfeiffer's reflection on the early decisions regarding security standards and the open admission that in some areas, such as RFID technology, an even greater emphasis on built-in security would have been beneficial. His call to continue efforts to create a safe, interoperable and sustainable e-mobility landscape in Europe is an inspiration for current and future players in this sector.

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