The EU has one of the densest transport infrastructure networks in the world of which most was constructed in the 60s and 70s - except for Central and Eastern European countries. The economic crisis in 2008 already led to enormous spending cuts even though the European post-war infrastructure, especially bridges, is ageing. Indeed, the maintenance backlog, i.e. the amount of maintenance and rehabilitation that should have been completed in order to maintain roads in a good condition but has been deferred, is growing considerably. This problem could even be amplified if the COVID-19 leads to further spending cuts.
Yet, delayed maintenance results in wider costs: it impedes mobility in the internal market, increases the risk of accidents and leads to higher CO2 emissions through the transport sector. Furthermore, “savings” from delaying maintenance will be false economy as the infrastructure will degrade to the point where it must be replaced which is more costly than regular maintenance.
Although maintenance of infrastructure is mostly a Member States’ competence, the EU has some leverage in this regard.
While the completion of the Trans European Transport Network (TEN-T) is still highly relevant, it is also about guaranteeing and maintaining the quality of the infrastructure that has already been constructed. Therefore, the TEN-T Regulation (1315/2013/EU) has to aim for a TEN-T which is a precursor for high-quality infrastructure to guarantee its safety, functionality and sustainability. Also, the Directive on road infrastructure safety management (2008/96/EC) can be a main driver to increase the quality of road infrastructure on the basis of safety assessments if properly enforced.
Finally, appropriate investment in infrastructure is essential, especially to achieve a sustainable recovery from the COVID 19 crisis, both through dedicated programs within the framework of the EU budget and at national level. In order to foster investment in maintenance of infrastructure at national level, FIEC calls for mandatory earmarking of revenues generated by tolls with regard to the Eurovignette Directive (1999/62/EC) which is currently under revision.
2017_11_27 FIEC Position_Revised_Eurovignette.pdf
2020_09_23 FIEC Input to the Future Strategy for a Sustainable and Smart Mobility .pdf