sâmbătă, 21 decembrie 2013

Investment in infrastructure: why now more important than ever?

Investment in infrastructure projects is more necessary than ever in Romania. After losing the 1990s - while fellow Visegrad Plus countries developed - and having moved the way we did in the 2000s, there’s no time to waste, if we don’t want to lose the economic opportunities of this decade.

We risk a decrease in economic growth. Difficult access and poor quality roads do not help the investment process. In this context, the recent announcement of government plans should be welcomed and correlated with European plans. First, one has to spend money efficiently and absorb as much European funds in the field as possible. However, we need to develop a transport “masterplan” to bring stable investment, and to provide a predictable execution. At the same time, there needs to be a balance between strategic roads for the economy and favouring roads that stimulate the development of tourism.

Focussing on regional priorities as Transylvania, we need a connection to roads in western Transylvania, but at the same time there needs to be a good road to Moldova, as well as increasing general road quality. "TEN-T" is the key word, especially when put in a European context. Its aim is to develop a core European transport network, to be the backbone of transport in Europe.

It's important to be well connected in this area. The role of the TEN-T is to promote economic growth and competitiveness, connecting East and West. In fact, it transforms a set of national papers into a true European strategic network, built on nine major corridors: two north-south corridors, three east-west corridors, and four diagonal corridors. In this area, we must make better use of cohesion funds available.

According to the European Commission, funding of transport & infrastructure will triple to 26 billion euros from 2014-2020. It is an opportunity that Romania cannot afford to leave aside, and it is important that efforts are transparent, and that the strategic vision is based on national interest and not on tactics for the sake of political expediency.

In early December the strategy on developing highways by 2018 was put into action. A big step forward in the development of infrastructure in Romania. The goal, according to Prime Minister Ponta is "to unite virtually all historical regions and provide outputs to the borders with Hungary, Bulgaria and Moldova." Of course, any strategy can be improved, but it is important that things are moving forward, and they actually need to move with speed, if we are to bridge the gaps of infrastructure compared to other countries of the Visegrad Plus.

Romania currently has 500 kilometers of highway, 230 km opened in 2012 and 2013. If you’re really able to unlock the sectorial programme in Transport and absorb a good portion of the available funds, the European roads that Romanians have have waited for will be built over the coming years. We do also need stronger projects under public-private partnerships. A resolution is required for 2014: good road infrastructure developments in Romania. There's so much need…

Dan LUCA / Brussels

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