EU funds for fifty harmful projects

25 February 2008

NGOs announce 'RegioScars' - the three most ill-conceived projects in CEE countries

Brussels, 25 February - A new map with details of 50 environmentally damaging and economically dubious infrastructure projects in Central and Eastern Europe was launched by CEE Bankwatch Network and Friends of the Earth Europe in Brussels today [1]. Based on the most extensive investigation to date, the map entitled 'Cohesion or Collision?' shows controversial projects with a total cost of EUR 22 billion. The projects are either already financed, or planned to be financed, by EU structural and cohesion funds and/or the European Investment Bank (EIB) [2].

Martin Konecny, Coordinator for EU funds at Friends of the Earth Europe said: "EU funding support for Central and Eastern European countries is necessary and welcome. But if the money drives reckless developments and environmental destruction, its potential to deliver benefits is being wasted. The map shows that harmful projects are unfortunately not limited to a few isolated exceptions. Yet these problems are wholly unnecessary because alternatives exist. The European Commission and the EIB should call a halt to such projects and demand that alternative solutions are properly assessed."

The total cost of the 50 projects is EUR 22 billion, of which EUR 10 billion would be paid by EU funds and further billions by the EIB. Some of the projects have been approved already, but most are planned in the budgetary period 2007-2013. [3]

The projects on the map include:

18 waste incinerators promoted at the expense of recycling which is better for both the environment and economic development14 motorways ineptly routed through valuable natural areas or residential zones regardless of possible alternative routes8 river engineering and other water management projects set to destroy unique natural sites

Anelia Stefanova, EU-affairs coordinator at CEE Bankwatch Network said: "Recklessly prepared projects lead to disputes and delays and thereby jeopardize the ability of the new member states to absorb the full amounts of EU funds available. Our aim with this map of controversial projects is to warn about the problems before they happen - most of the 50 projects are still under preparation."

On the day that European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Danuta Huebner awarded 'RegioStars' for the most innovative projects but also appeared before the European Parliament to explain discrepancies in EU funding, CEE Bankwatch Network and Friends of the Earth Europe also revealed their selection of 'RegioScars' - the three most ill-conceived projects planned for EU funding in the new member states in the 2007-2013 period.

The following projects were selected by an NGO jury based on environmental, economic and social criteria:
1) A scheme for building 9 waste incinerators for EUR 1 billion in Poland
2) Via Baltica expressway in Poland
3) R52 expressway (Brno-Vienna connection) in the Czech Republic.

Magda Stoczkiewicz, Policy coordinator at CEE Bankwatch Network commented: "The plan to build nine polluting waste incinerators throughout Poland will divert money from the much more needed and effective recycling services. This is unjustifiable at a time when Poland recycles merely 3 per cent of its municipal waste. That's why this scheme fully deserves the 'RegioScar' for worst project. The Via Baltica and R52 expressways in Poland and the Czech Republic are second and third worst as they will both damage highly valuable natural sites and landscapes despite the availability of much less damaging, shorter and less costly alternative routes."


[1] The new map and photos are available for download and free reproduction at:

[2] Despite their different set-ups, the EU funds and the EIB are the EU's two main public financial mechanisms and often co-finance the same projects.

The European Commission makes the final decision about each EU funded project with a total cost of more than EUR 25 billion for environmental projects, and over EUR 50 billion for transport and other projects.

[3] The map includes:
* 6 approved projects, for which EU/EIB money has already been authorized: total cost: EUR2.7bn; cost to EU funds: EUR0.5bn
* 35 planned projects, that are listed in the national plans for EU funding in the 2007-2013 period or are planned to be financed by the EIB: total cost: EUR14.5bn; cost to EU funds: EUR9.0bn. This equals to 5 per cent of all EU funds for CEE countries in the 2007-2013 period (EUR 177bn) and is for example four times more than all EU funds allocated for energy efficiency measures in the same period
* 9 potential projects, that are not officially listed in the EU funding plans or in the EIB pipeline, but are being seriously considered for EU or EIB financial support: total cost: EUR4.8bn; cost to EU funds: EUR0.6bn

A previous version of the map with 22 projects was published in 2006. The new version is based on a new, more extensive investigation and on the EU's funding plans for the period 2007-2013 which have been finalised over the last two years.