FIEC calls on Member States to take projects seriously

By Sandy Guthrie22 November 2013

Thomas Schleicher is  president of FIEC for the period from 2012 to 2014.

Thomas Schleicher is president of FIEC for the period from 2012 to 2014.

EU Member States are being challenged to commit to the new TEN-T guidelines to connect Europe by road and rail, and to make the projects happen.

FIEC (the European Construction Industry Federation) said it recognised the opportunities created by the Connecting Europe Facility and the new TEN-T guidelines to create a real transport network across the EU, revealed in October.

European Union financing for transport infrastructure will triple for the period 2014 to 2020 to €26 billion, and new maps of the major trans-European corridors have been drawn up.

FIEC said, “Now, the ball is in the court of the Member States who have to commit themselves to make these projects a reality.”

It remains confident that the new mechanism will be able to play a significant leverage role, although it described cuts made by the European Council to the initial European Commission proposal as counterproductive considering the funding needs.

FIEC said it had originally made a request many years ago to have a single and centralised infrastructure fund within the EU budget to make projects of added value to the EU actually happen. It feels that the fact that cross-border sections can be co-financed up to 40% is a positive element.

Thomas Schleicher, FIEC’s president, said, “What’s crucial now is the Member States’ political commitment, in particular if you consider that the Council has softened the Commission’s initial proposal for a binding target by 2030. Member States now have to work seriously on the projects they have pushed forward.”

Schleicher added, “Moreover, I fully agree with what MEP Brian Simpson said in his conclusions of the TEN-T Days 2013, namely that as long as Member States think purely at a national level, the European Core Network will not happen. Member States have to start thinking European.”

Considering transport infrastructure, Schleicher regretted that the list of eligible projects had been extended quite significantly. He said this was in contradiction to the initial objective of concentrating available funds on a restricted number of projects in order to ensure their realisation – an aim that was strongly supported by FIEC.

FIEC welcomed the various innovative financial instruments which had been developed over recent years, and said it wished to see a quick outcome of these instruments.

“However, they will serve no purpose if there is no stable project pipeline,” said Schleicher. “Again, Member States have to take responsibility for making the best use of the opportunities which are offered to them.

“Network infrastructure is the backbone of the EU’s economy,” he said. “Austerity policies must not stop the investment into infrastructure which is necessary to ensure growth and jobs in the EU.”

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