As we argued in a previous proposal, the third pillar of growth besides innovation and entrepreneurship is public investment in large-scale infrastructure projects. The objective of such investments is two-fold. On the one hand, investing public money now into the European economy will provide a well-needed short-term boost to growth and employment, kick-starting a new growth cycle. On top of this, smart investment in infrastructure will place Europe in a better position to face longer-term challenges such as climate change and the shift towards a “knowledge” economy.
This is an area that the European Union has been focused on through well-defined strategic plans and public consultations. There are currently several plans in place to coordinate the development of infrastructures in Europe.
To name a few, the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) defines an ambitious plan for the coordination of transport infrastructure across the continent, including building motorways, railways and developing sea transport. The aims of this project fit perfectly with two cornerstones of long-term European strategies: they increase mobility within the single market and allow Europe to move towards a sustainable transport network, by optimising the balance of transportation used to carry goods.
The Guidelines for trans-European energy infrastructure, is the European plan for energy infrastructures. It focuses on the improvement of energy transmission networks and storage facilities. It is guided by the European carbon emission reduction targets and aims at ensuring energy security as well as sustainability.
Some additional projects are geared towards providing the right regulatory framework to encourage best practices in infrastructure development in Europe including water networks, digital network and waste management. Europe is therefore encouraging projects through two different levers: harmonisation of regulations and financing, notably by setting aside a budget and entering into public-private partnerships.
The example of broadband investments is particularly interesting as it shows how governments can boost job creation, while modernising their economy through projects that are largely self-financing. TheEU is supporting such investments through four different angles: it aims to coordinate the development of national plans, encourage private investment in national plans, promoting wireless broadband and reinforcing the financing of initiatives, in particular in rural areas.
These examples tell us that Europe is moving towards a more integrated infrastructure network. It is through this type of initiatives that sustainable growth can be achieved in our continent. Few of us know about these projects and what they mean for our daily lives. Few of us know how much Europe has already done and is planning to do.
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