Written by Mihalis Kritikos,
While EU funding is available for large-scale trans-European transport infrastructures, less seems to be spent on smaller projects in Europe’s border regions, which rely on cross-border transport of goods and passengers. Cross-border projects to remove bottlenecks and bridge the gaps identified between national networks are vital for an efficient and sustainable transport system, enabling the free movement of goods and passengers. These connections show a high European added value, supporting the functioning of the internal market, strengthening the economic, social and territorial cohesion of the European Union (EU) and stimulating regional developments across borders.
In a recent own-initiative report on Improving the connection and accessibility of the transport infrastructure in central and eastern Europe, the European Parliament strongly advises making better use of existing policies and instruments for regional cooperation to enhance cross-border transport between regions and remove bottlenecks. In the same context, the STOA Panel recently launched a study on the sources and instruments for financing new transport infrastructure projects. The study will examine the situation in the EU with regard to the financing of new technologies for enhancing transport infrastructure in cross-border areas and will provide a set of options for policy action.
On 6 June 2017, STOA is organising a workshop to discuss these issues, continuing STOA’s practice of discussing the socio-economic and regulatory dimensions of techno-scientific developments. The workshop will be chaired by Vice-President Bogusław Liberadzki (S&D, Poland), and opened by Claudia Schmidt (EPP, Austria), both members of the STOA Panel.
Cross border transport infrastructure and services: challenges and opportunities.
A wide range of financing options for transport infrastructure is currently available at EU level, including the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds), the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI), Horizon 2020 and the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), to complement Member States’ funding resources. Along with infrastructure development, technological and systems innovation can be expected to foster the accomplishment of an integrated and smooth transport system across the European regions. However, regardless of the diverse funding and financing landscape, there are many types of and drivers for the problems that exist in relation to cross-border transport infrastructure and a diversity of solutions of variable geometry should be sought.
As an alternative, numerous European Groupings on Territorial Cooperation (EGTCs) have emerged all over Europe in recent years, making use of the possibilities offered by the flexible EGTC structure to plan and implement cross-border investments and services, enhancing the technological infrastructure of cross-regional transport, especially when the investment plans require a substantial budget or are not included as part of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T). However, their work is not yet sufficiently mature. Additionally, the cross-border context generates important externalities, which make cross-border investments less attractive and appropriate for mainstream financial instruments and not well-fitted for small-size projects that are not immediately bankable.
Register for the workshop
What to expect from the event?
The workshop will offer an opportunity to discuss possible approaches towards improving the financing of new technologies that enhance transport infrastructure in border areas. The workshop is structured in three parts. The first will give the European Commission and the Committee of the Regions the opportunity to talk about innovative ways of financing cross-border infrastructure beyond TEN-T and the role of EGTC in cross-border investments leveraging growth and cohesion.
The event will begin with a presentation of the preliminary findings of the ongoing STOA study on ‘New ways of financing transport infrastructure projects in Europe’ mentioned earlier. This will provide the attendees with comprehensive information on the topics and issues at stake, facilitating their participation in the subsequent debate. The second part will be an informed debate on the changes that are needed to enhance the role of cross-border financing, with stakeholders being invited to share their own concrete experiences. These issues will be discussed by Daniela Carvalho, Consultores em Transportes Inovação e Sistemas (TIS), Carlo Secchi, European Coordinator for Atlantic Corridor, European Commission, DG MOVE, Pavel Branda, Vice-Mayor of Rádlo Municipality and Member of the European Committee of the Regions, Dirk Peters, Team leader/senior specialist for European territorial cooperation and EGTC, European Commission, DG REGIO Julien de Labaca, Euroregion Nouvelle Aquitaine-Euskadi-Navarra EGTC, Josè Maria Costa, Mayor of Viana do Castelo, Portugal, Eixo Atlântico, Krzysztof Żarna, CETC-EGTC and Julianna Orbán Máté, Via Carpatia EGTC. The third part will be an enlarged debate in which the various speakers will be available to answer questions or react to comments from the audience.
Prominent among the topics to be addressed are the effects of the sharp contrast between the wealth of financial instruments available for large-scale trans-European transport infrastructures and the relatively few resources dedicated to smaller-scale infrastructures in Europe’s border regions. This situation can lead to problems, as the development of border regions strongly relies on the availability of transport infrastructure facilitating the movement of people and goods between towns, cities, and businesses across both sides of the border. This lack of funding is potentially behind the emergence of missing links which hamper the establishment of cross-border infrastructure facilities as well as of services in the field of transport from a technological and innovation point of view. If you are interested, register for the workshop before and take part in the discussion.