Core networks ready in 2030?

18 June 2020

The European Court of Auditors has checked whether the core network corridors will be ready and operating by 2030, as planned by the European Union in 2013.  It assessed the planning and delivery of 8 cross-border transport megaprojects in the EU and the effects on the functioning of transport corridors and on the completion of the core transport network by 2030. Its work included an assessment of the Seine-Scheldt project.

The Court published its findings in a Performance Audit Special report in which they concluded key cross-border transport megaprojects in the EU are progressing more slowly than expected. 6 of the 8 multibillion infrastructures audited are unlikely to be operating at full capacity by 2030 as initially planned. This will postpone the completion of the core trans-European network and put at risk the effectiveness of 5 out of its 9 corridors.

Important shortcomings the Court detected, are:

  1. National priorities are not always linked to Core Network investments, certain national plans do not comply with the timeline for CNC completion and cross-border sections do not enjoy equal support by all affected Member States;
  2. The Commission has no legal power, and takes no proactive role in the planning of megaprojects;
  3. Assessments are often flawed;
  4. Stakeholder management is often poor (but in this case Seine-Scheldt was heralded as a positive example); Inefficiencies and red tape;
  5. Limited supervision by the Commission and weaknesses of its implementing decisions. The Court also took note of some positive developments including for Seine-Scheldt: good cross-border management and already visible impacts of investments so far.

The report recommends the Commission to:

  1. revise and apply the current tools to enforce long-term planning (generally accepted by the Commission)
  2. require better analysis before deciding to provide EU co-funding for megaprojects (mostly rejected by the Commission)
  3. strengthen its management of EU co-funding for actions that are part of megaprojects
  4. build on the experience of implementing decisions, and strengthen the role of the European Coordinators

Core networks ready in 2030?

Waterway infrastructure