European Commissioner Neelie Kroes said Tuesday that connected cars, electric vehicles and the future of manufacturing are top priorities for Europe.

The commissioner, who is in charge of Europe’s digital agenda, also said the region needs dedicated automotive r&d programs to meet the challenges of sustainable mobility.

Kroes said the automotive sector can play a leading role in moving forward the EU’s goal of improving daily life through the use of information technology.

“There can be few better places to start than with mobility and the ICT ecosystem that supports it,” Kroes said at the opening of the annual conference of EUCAR, the European Council for Automotive R&d.

EUCAR coordinates r&d projects of its members, which include all of Europe’s major car and truck makers. European vehicle manufacturers invest more than 26 billion euros annually in r&d.