Does the Practice Respond to the Rhetoric? On the Contribution of the Contemporary EU Investment Policies in Transport Infrastructure to a Sustainable Future



Does the Practice Respond to the Rhetoric? On the Contribution of the Contemporary EU Investment Policies in Transport Infrastructure to a Sustainable Future

Authors

PALLIS A, CHLOMOUDIS C I, University of Piraeus and LAMBRIDIS A, Forest SA Athens, Greece

Description

The main objective of this paper is to examine whether the European Union (EU) policy initiatives regarding investments in transport infrastructure (ITI) have in practice contributed to the promotion of a European transportation system that advances the c

Abstract

The main objective of this paper is to examine whether the European Union (EU) policy initiatives regarding investments in transport infrastructure (ITI) have in practice contributed to the promotion of a European transportation system that advances the concept of sustainable goods distribution and persons mobility. Specifically, it examines whether the ELI financial contribution in ITI and the national level investment practices, i.e. modal distribution of the existing public fimds, have promoted of the use of the comparatively environmentally friendly transport modes, that is rail and sea transport. Transport is an activity having substantial direct and indirect impacts on the environment, such as air and noise pollution, land take and energy consumption. The continuous growth in transport sources and traffic volume in Europe - advanced by the progress of economic integration - further exacerbates the existing environmental problems. For instance, in OECD European countries the shares of CO 2 and NOx emissions originating from transport are 26 and 63 per cent respectively. Road transport alone is responsible for 18% of CO2 emissions, roughly 60% of NO x and 50% of VOC emissions (OECD, 1995). Therefore, both the large proportion of freight that is currently distributed by road, and the proportionally higher than in the case of any other mode rate of growth in the road subsector, are indicative of a non-sustainable trend. To reverse this trend it is essential to increase the share of rail and sea transport, that is the two transport modes hampering the environment substantially less than road transportation. To achieve this goal, major changes in the field of transport demand - i.e., the promotion of the appropriate technologies, new economic and administrative policies - have to be supplemented by concrete steps in the supply side. A critical supportive choice is an investment policy that promotea satisfactorily both the continuously increasing demand for transport services and the essential redistribution of the modal pie. The finance of the construction, and/or modemisation, of the adequate transport infrastructure, as well as the setting of priorities regarding the modal allocation of the available capital resources, turn to vital issues of strategic importance.

Detailing the problem and grounding the substantiality of promoting rail and seagoing trade as an integral part of sustainable future (Section 2), the paper reviews recent EU initiatives aiming to address the problem (Section 3). As the concept of sustainability is a main target of the Common ELI Transport Policy (CTP), financial initiatives have been undertaken in order to promote it. With the implementation of these initiatives relying to both EU and national level practices, the paper analyses whether the promotion of a modal shift has been served by the ITI policy actions that followed the EU initiatives (Section 4). Greece has been selected as the case study, and grounds important conclusions due to three reasons. First, it is a peripheral ELI Member State where the ITI are supported directly by the EU Cohesion Funds. Second, its geographical characteristics facilitate the development of all the different transport modes. Facilitating the use of one transport mode at the expense of another is in many cases simply a question of policy priorities. Thirdly, knowledge regarding either the volume or the modal distribution of ITI in Greece is near zero, although the public sector is the only investor and the participation of the private sector is minimal; Eurostat databases provide data regarding all Member States bar Greece.

Studying the investment payments accounts that have been recorded by the national administrations responsible for the development of transport infrastructure in Greece - the Ministry of Transport (MOT) and the Ministry of Environment, Land Planning, and Public Works (MELPPW) - the paper concludes on how the different elements of the transport network are confronted. The presented data include solely the payments in infrastructure investments. Funds that have been provided for studies of the transport sector (i.e. feasibility studies) are excluded. However, the inclusion of the available but incomplete data regarding these payments would not have changed the trends of the indicators under examination.

The conclusions of the paper reconfirm earlier studies (Chlomoudis & Pallis, 1997) which suggested that the policy choices have failed to promote a balanced and rational modal distribution of the limited EU resources. In other words, the Greek policy continues to contradict the necessities for modal integration and interoperability of rail and sea transportation undermining the concept of sustainable mobility, and the ELI initiatives have been - at least in the case of Greece - unable to reverse this trend. As the practice do not match the rhetoric, the inclusion of environmental issues in the ITI policies remains an important but neglected issue which has the potential to adverse the environmental problems and increase the sustainability of transport.

Publisher

Association for European Transport