Key cross-border transport megaprojects in the EU are progressing more slowly than expected. Six of the eight multibillion infrastructures audited and their access lines are unlikely to be operating at full capacity by 2030 as initially planned, according to a new report by the European Court of Auditors (ECA). This will further postpone the completion of the core trans-European network (TEN-T).
In 2013, the EU Member States agreed to have the core TEN-T network ready by 2030. A key feature of the network is cross-border transport projects, which aim to improve connections between national networks along European corridors.
The auditors examined whether the construction of large-scale motorways, railways and waterways with cross-border impact on the EU core transport network was well planned and efficiently implemented. They checked eight EU-funded megaprojects worth a total of €54 billion (including €7.5 billion from the EU), linking transport networks of 13 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Baltics, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania and Spain.
Construction was significantly delayed on all the megaprojects examined (average delay 11 years), jeopardising the effective functioning of five out of nine multinational corridors. The main reason for these poor results was that projects were often poorly coordinated between countries. Member States have their own investment priorities and planning procedures, and do not always support cross-border projects or investment in transnational corridors to the same degree. Nor does project implementation always progress at the same speed on each side of the border. So far, the Commission has not made use of the limited legal tools at its disposal to enforce the priorities agreed at EU level in Member States that fail to keep pace.
“Timely establishment of the core TEN-T corridors is critical to the achievement of EU policy goals, supporting growth and jobs and tackling climate change,” said Oskar Herics, the ECA Member responsible for the report. “Additional efforts should be made to speed up the finalisation of
many of the EU’s flagship transport megaprojects. Because these projects are essential to achieve a better connectivity across Europe and to deliver the network effects on time.”