• Cohesion funds ‘on a collision’ course in CEE

    Billions of euros of EU taxpayers’ money are in danger of being used to fund uneconomic and environmentally damaging transport infrastructure projects in the new member states of central and eastern Europe.

    That is the message from CEE Bankwatch Network and Friends of the Earth, who last month published a map entitled “EU Funds in Central and Eastern Europe: Cohesion or Collision?”. It shows 22 environmentally damaging, economically unjustified or socially controversial projects which are likely to cost the EU budget around €6 billion.

    The two NGOs say EU environmental impact assessment rules have not been enforced, or enforced inadequately. “In many of the cases we looked at, environmental assessments were used as a rubber stamping exercise,” said Martin Konecny of Friends of the Earth.

    The 22 projects in eight countries include roads and motorways cutting through valuable protected areas, despite the availability of alternative routes and lack of economic justification. Accompanying the map are suggestions for making better use of the funds, especially in the transport, energy and waste management sectors.

    The two NGOs highlight the plan to relocate Brno railway station as “a particularly absurd case”. The €845 million project would take the station out of the city centre and put it on the edge of the Czech city, complicating the lives of tens of thousands of the city’s commuters.

    This news story is taken from the April 2006 edition of T&E Bulletin.