CER AND UNIFE HIGHLIGHT NECESSITY OF PREPARING NEW MEMBER STATES FOR EU FUNDS
Based on this experience of the 2004 and 2007 enlargements, it can be expected that Croatia too will face such challenges when having access to Cohesion funds after 1 July 2013.
The workshop brought together members of the board and high-level representatives from the European institutions, from infrastructure managers and all HZ companies with the objective of fostering best-practice exchange. In the first session representatives of the regional policy directorate of the European Commission and of JASPERS explained what the European Union can offer under which rules and what kind of help JASPERS can make available. They described common problems that occur in the process of project management.
In the afternoon, a panel consisting of HZ companies, Alexander Wolowiec (Member of the Board of the Polish infrastructure manager PLK) and an industry representative discussed the practical challenges of making use of EU funds. The panellists touched on questions such as how the infrastructure manager should organise its investment department, how to prepare for an increase in the number of projects that need to be managed, what to bear in mind when selecting contractors, and how to deal with delays in projects and the consequences this might have for European funding. Addressing these questions allowed pointing to a number of possible solutions and alerting stakeholders to the challenges that come with an increase in available funds and in investment projects.
During the workshop Philippe Citroen, director general of UNIFE, said: “In some countries the situation is quite alarming” and continued to say “too big a share of available funds is not used, to the detriment of the rail transport system, the environment, and society at large.” He also highlighted the importance of creation of rail investment agencies in the EU 12 member states.
Libor Lochman, executive director of CER, stated “It is necessary to create the right conditions to be able to invest the available funds. And there are many projects that need financing, such as the upgrade of corridors or implementation of interoperability measures. Funds absorption will be a critical task on which railway companies and national ministries will have to focus their actions in the next years”.
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