Moving around Europe

International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management

ISSN: 1741-0401

Article publication date: 1 July 2004



(2004), "Moving around Europe", International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Vol. 53 No. 5.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Moving around Europe

Efficient and effective transport infrastructures are essential to economic development. Yet, according to a recent paper from PricewaterhouseCoopers, a severe lack of co-ordination and funding is preventing the development of such an infrastructure within the European Union.

The paper “Trans-European Transport Network – moving from aspiration to reality” suggests that difficulties in synchronising investments in adjacent countries, and a multi-billion Euro funding shortfall, are hampering progress with road, rail and other projects.

In terms of the UK, this will harm the interests of exporters in their attempts to maximise trade with continental customers. Approximately 60 per cent of UK exports are to EU countries, most of which, not surprisingly, rely on the transport network for deliveries.

The European Commission has highlighted 29 priority projects to improve the Trans-European Transport Network infrastructure, known as the TEN-T. These projects, covering current member states and accession countries (most of which joined the EU in May), involve the construction of inter-linked new routes and upgrades.

UK priority projects include upgrading of the West Coast main line; completion of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link; modernisation of the Felixstowe-Nuneaton and Crewe-Holyhead rail links and improvements of roads such as the A14, M6 and A75 to speed up transport between Ireland and mainland Europe.

Other projects include a high capacity rail link across the Pyrenees (contracts signed); the Oresund Bridge between Sweden and Denmark (complete); upgraded rail links between Athens and Dresden, Gdansk and Vienna and Genoa and Rotterdam.

The TEN-T priority projects are estimated to require funding of around 235 billion by 2020, equivalent to approximately 0.16 per cent of the aggregate GDP of EU countries, but these cost estimates could escalate. However, just 4.2 billion was included in the Union’s 2001-2006 budget and, whilst significant funding is available to specific countries and regions through the EU’s cohesion fund and the structural funds, from the European Investment Bank and from national government sources, there is still a substantial funding shortfall.

Julian Smith, partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, claims that without an effective transport infrastructure, Europe cannot deliver the benefits of the single market and facilitate social cohesion. Public sector budgets can only be stretched so far, and PPP structures should be used to bring in private finance.

“When it comes to transport, governments and businesses in the European Union need to work in a unified manner, to forget national borders and to work on all the links in a chain in a co-ordinated manner. Such an approach will facilitate real improvements, offering significant benefits to all Europeans”.

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