EU: European Court of Auditors Criticises Policies and Infrastructure on High-Speed Rail

The European Court of Auditors (ECA) has released a critical report which describes the 10,000 km of high-speed rail in the EU as an  ‘ineffective patchwork of national lines without proper coordination across borders’. The auditors visited France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Portugal and Austria and analysed spending on approximately 50% of lines before producing a negative evaluation of the current situation.

The ECA believes that the EU’s long-term vision for a high-speed rail network is unfeasible because there is no coherent strategy for it. Since 2000 the EU has provided 23.7 billion euros to co-fund the expansion of lines by Member States, but it argues that the European Commission does not have the powers to ensure that national governments adhere to their commitments.

Oskar Herics, Member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the report, said:

“High-speed lines crossing national borders do not rank among national priorities for construction and the Commission has no power to enforce them. This means the added value of EU co-funding is low.”

The ECA believes that in spite of the continuing construction of new lines the target to triple the length of the network to 30,000 km by 2030 is unrealistic.

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