Last week, I was reviewing some Major Projects before adopting them and two Portuguese ones particularly caught my attention. As they illustrate perfectly the positive and tangible impact that EU Cohesion Policy can have on the ground, I have decided to share them with you.
First of all, let me explain what Major Projects are. Under the shared management of Cohesion Policy, the managing authorities are in charge of selecting, implementing and monitoring projects. Nevertheless the Commission directly approves certain projects, especially in transport and environment, when they exceed a certain threshold in the share of EU funding involved.
These two Portuguese projects, (Alcàcer Bypass and Modernização do troço Bombel e Vidigal a Évora), concern infrastructure upgrades on the rail link between the port of Sines and Caia, at the border with Spain. The overall project aims to ensure inter-operability of the Portuguese railway network with the rest of Spain and Europe, for both freight and passenger transport. This rail link is included in the core network of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), the EU's transport infrastructure policy that connects the continent between East and West, North and South and aims to close the gaps between Member States' transport networks, remove bottlenecks and overcome technical barriers for railway traffic.
The total cost of these two projects, which are operational, is over 160 million euro; by adopting them I gave the green light to a contribution of over 136 million euro from the EU Cohesion Fund, that is to say 85% of the expenditure.
This shows how Cohesion policy contributes to improving the mobility of citizens, ensuring safe, sustainable and environmental-friendly travel conditions. By making territories more accessible for tourists and businesses, this kind of investment also participates to boosting the regions' competitiveness and to strengthening national and local economies.