EU transport 'megaprojects' are behind schedule, over budget

BRUSSELS (AP) - The European Union's external auditor says poor coordination between Member States is significantly delaying the development of billion euro transport projects to improve connections between national networks across the continent.
In order to facilitate transit, boost the block's economy and develop more environmentally friendly modes of transport, the EU Member States agreed in 2013 to build a core network along nine designated main corridors by 2030. However, according to a report released on Tuesday by the European Court of Auditors, six of the eight audited projects are unlikely to be fully operational by this date.
The auditors focused on the construction of eight so-called "mega-projects", including four railroads, a freeway, a waterway and two multimode connections worth 54 billion euros ($ 61.2 billion) - including 7.5 billion euros ($ 8.5 billion) from the EU. Linking the transport networks of 13 countries.
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They concluded that everyone was delayed by an average of 11 years. They said that "inefficient implementation" and changes in the design of projects over the years have caused costs to increase by more than 47% or € 17 billion ($ 19.2 billion).
In Romania, for example, one section of a new highway was not used and two sections were incorrectly connected, which wasted the investment, the accountants said.
The main problem, according to the auditors, is the lack of coordination between countries that do not have the same investment priorities. They also said that EU countries may have been overly optimistic in their initial forecasts and warned that some projects may turn out to be unprofitable.
Using the example of the high-speed rail project between Turin (Italy) and Lyon (France), audit coordinator Oskar Herics told journalists that the forecasts for eight times the freight traffic by 2025 were probably overestimated.
"The timely establishment of the core corridors (transport corridors) is critical to achieving the EU's policy objectives, supporting growth and jobs, and combating climate change," said Herics. "Additional efforts should be made to speed up the completion of many EU flagships." Transport mega projects. "
The auditors also found that the EU Commission, the bloc's executive, had not done enough to ensure that the targets were met in the member states. According to the auditors, the Commission has already paid EUR 3.4 billion out of the EU funds allocated to the projects.
In its response to the report, the Commission acknowledged that there is a high risk that some of the projects will not be fully utilized by 2030, but most will be operational by then.

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