TEN priority projects €40 billion over budget
Europe’s 30 trans-European network transport priority projects will overrun in cost by at least €40 billion, according to a new report by the financial services firm PriceWaterhouse Coopers. The overspend leaves four countries facing heavy bills.
[mailchimp_signup][/mailchimp_signup]The report, prepared for the European Parliament and launched in Brussels earlier this month, says the 30 TEN-T projects are likely to cost at least €379bn, 11.6% up on the original estimate from 2004 of €340bn.
It says the increase is due to poor project management, planning difficulties, changes in project specifications, protests, lawsuits and lack of funding. It also says complex projects have been the most likely to run over budget, and identifies basic faults in procedure, such as poor communications between members of the project team, and a lack of control over time and costs.
The transport TENs have been controversial since the idea of ‘Missing Links’ was first put forward as an EU policy in the early 1990s. Under the current TENs regulation, the EU is expected to fund up to 20% of the projects, the rest coming from national governments and private enterprise.
The few priority projects that have been completed have shown a cost overrun. The Oresund bridge linking Denmark and Sweden and the expansion of Milan’s Malpensa airport both had to be reassessed and changed following public protests and lawsuits.
The report’s findings are particularly bad news for Italy, Spain, France and Germany, who are set to pay more than half the total priority project bill between them if all the projects to ahead. Commission officials and MEPs are privately wondering whether all the projects can go ahead if significant private funding is not found.
T&E policy officer Nina Renshaw said: ‘This report shows that undertaking proper environmental assessment is not just a box to tick on the application forms for EU funding, but a vital part of the planning process. It is clear that failure to involve the public at an early stage of planning and assess the potential environmental damage is a costly mistake that can throw a project off course.’
T&E has said for some time that the absence of robust impact assessments has led to projects being added to the TENs list that would not have been approved for funding if realistic cost/benefit analysis had been in place. It also feels the TENs were often ‘wishlists’ from national governments with little regard for proper prioritisation.
Renshaw added: ‘The report should encourage NGOs and citizens’ groups to keep getting involved and calling project promoters to account. And given that so many of the priority projects have not yet begun, this is a good time to reassess real transport needs where EU funds can make a difference to reducing trans-port’s greenhouse emissions.’