“A third of EU spending on facilities such as quays, docks and breakwaters at EU seaports between 2000 and 2013 was ineffective and unsustainable”, according to a new report from the European Court of Auditors.
The European Court of Auditors issued a report on port investments within the bloc, and its findings were rather disappointing. One euro in three spent on the projects examined (€194 million) went on projects which duplicated existing facilities nearby. €97 million was invested in infrastructure which was either unused or heavily underused for more than three years after completion.
The auditors assessed the maritime freight transport strategies of the European Commission and the Member States and the value for money delivered by EU investments in port services, which totalled €17 billion in grants and loans between 2000 and 2013. They visited 19 seaports in five EU countries – Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and Sweden. They found that the long-term strategies in place did not provide a robust basis for port-capacity planning. Neither the EU nor the Member States had a strategic overview of which ports needed funding and for what, while the funding of similar types of infrastructure in neighbouring ports led to ineffective and unsustainable investment.
A re-assessment of five projects already examined in 2010 indicated poor value for money: the use of the EU- funded infrastructure added to these ports was still inadequate after almost a decade of operations. Relevant port areas in four ports were still either empty or nearly so, while the fifth one did not have any operations at all.
“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.”
EU-funded projects audited were also inefficient, with cost overruns of €139 million, while 19 of the 30 completed projects examined had been subject to delays of up to 136% of initial estimates. Seven out of 37 newly audited projects (with €524 million of EU funding) had not been completed at the time of the audit.
In addition, the coordination between the Commission and the EIB on the funding of port infrastructure did not function properly: granting loans by the EIB to neighbouring ports outside the EU (e.g. Morocco) had hampered the effectiveness of EU funding invested in EU ports.
You might download the full report at the European Court of Auditors website: Maritime transport in the EU: in troubled waters — much ineffective and unsustainable investment