LOBBYISTS AND ACTIVISTS
The industry (such as banks, construction companies, and automobile and airplane producers) plays an important role in TEN-T decision making. When we consider the history of the TEN-T, we see that the projects which form the current list of 30 priority projects are based on the proposal of the European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT). The European Corridors are linked together by these big infrastructure projects. The big projects made the Corridors and not the other way round. The industry will always stick to the big infrastructure projects because the profits are much higher than a simple upgrade of existing infrastructure would be.
Big Infrastructure projects have been in the news a lot recently, because certain traits become increasingly associated with them: citizens are often not well enough involved in consultation and planning; environmental impact assessments are sometimes not carried out satisfactorily; cost calculations are often too low and then explode during construction, when it is too late to stop.
The legislation protecting Europe ́s natural heritage is compiled in the Natura 2000 framework. NGOs play an important role in making sure that the infrastructure projects stick to the rules and do not threaten either the natural heritage or the citizens. For example, in the case of Via Baltica it was the success of an NGO coalition working together with citizens which finally led to the cancellation of a proposed motorway through a sensitive Natura 2000 area.
BirdLife International, T&E (European Federation for Transport and Environment), EEB (European Environmental Bureau) and CEE Bankwatch published a report on the potential impacts of the TEN-T network on Natura 2000 areas across the European Union. Using data from the European Commission, the report identifies Natura 2000 areas likely to be effected by TEN-T Priority Projects and ascertains which of these projects are likely to have the most negative impact. It also includes case studies of good and bad practice in taking Natura 2000 into account when planning infrastructure projects.
The participation of citizens in an early planning stage of infrastructure will become a very important part of the assessment of future infrastructure projects. At the moment citizens usually seem to be considered as the last in the line, whereas when considering infrastructure projects, citizens are the key element, the raison-d’etre of the TEN-T. Already many projects have failed because of citizens’ protests.