Ineffective port funding

Ineffective funding: The ECA says that maritime transport in the EU is in troubled waters Photo: ECA Ineffective funding: The ECA says that maritime transport in the EU is in troubled waters Photo: ECA

A new report by the European Court of Auditors (ECA) says that most EU funding has been targeted at ineffective and unsustainable port developments.

The Maritime transport in the EU: in troubled waters — much ineffective and unsustainable investment report looks at value for money delivered by 37 EU funded investments in ports and reveals significant problems in the funding and planning process.

Auditors visited 19 seaports in five EU countries – Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and Sweden. The report concludes that the long term development strategies put in place by the Member States and the Commission does not “provide a robust and coherent basis for planning the capacity needed in EU ports” or allow for identifying funding required for port infrastructures.

“Maritime transport in the EU is in troubled waters,” said Mr Oskar Herics, the Member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the report. “Needs assessments are weak and there is a high risk of the money invested being wasted. Overall, this relates to almost 400 million euros of investment examined.”

Further, similar funding at neighboring ports has led to “ineffective and unsustainable investments” based on the projects examined and completed between 2000 and 2013, meaning that one in every three euros has been spent ineffectively so far. Around half of this funding was invested into projects which were not used or heavily underused.

The report uncovered multiple cost overruns and delays which it called further illustration of inefficiencies. This is accompanied by many missing or inadequate links to hinterlands which will need further funding to make the initial investments work.

Although at EU level the Commission’s strategy on ports has developed over time, the ECA said that robust information on capacity planning is still lacking. Plus, there are too many ‘core ports’ to which the majority of EU funding is allocated preventing funding from reaching other important recipients.

Until the Commission has more information about the actual situation of these core ports, in particular data about actual available capacity or their future capacity needs, the ECA said that there is no EU wide overview to provide the basis for better coordination of the core ports’ capacity planning.

This, together with overestimated future traffic growth, has contributed to overestimation of additional port capacity needed within the EU.

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