30 September 2016
A recent report by the European Court of Auditors revealed that millions of euros on the development of European sea ports were wasted. Stig co-founder Arenso Bakker believes that setting the sights on infrastructure too soon is the root of the problem.
Subsidies sea ports meaningless due to focus on infrastructure
Roughly a third of all subsidies for sea port projects has been meaningless, the report states. For example, subsidised ports did not make it, or the development that was promised, was never realised, Dutch newspaper FD writes. In many cases, whether or not the subsidies made any sense had not been sufficiently researched. In total, 194 million euros were spent on useless projects. Another 400 million euros of subsidies received the mark ‘high risk’. 19 subsidised sea ports in Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and Sweden were reviewed by the auditors.
Focus on infrastructure
According to Bakker, the report shows that in developing ports, infrastructure is incorporated into the project too early, without proper market analysis or thinking the developmental concept through. “This focus on infrastructure can be explained by the decision to attract engineering agencies in the development process early on. Nowadays, these agencies also deploy economic departments, but they are and always will be focused on infrastructure.”
To focus on the economy of such a project makes sense, Bakker argues. “For these types of projects, involving a creative agency that develops a port concept would be even better. We at Stig have noticed that we usually only get involved after the project hits a wall.” The proverb ‘a fault confessed is half redressed’ applies here, states Bakker.
Weighing the pros and cons
“Even so, the report states that there are many projects that are moved along without weighing all the pros and cons properly”, says Bakker. “Apparently, projects are reviewed with lesser standards when someone else (Europe) foots the bill.”