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Balkans transportation system as shaped by the EU reconstruction aid: Modernization or a dead end street?

by Michele Tempera

Abstract

The devastating effects of the wars that occurred in the Balkans have left the region to cope with a destroyed infrastructural system. The massive reconstruction aid promoted by EU agencies and banks is hepling rebuid and improve the transport sector in the region. Are the resulting infrastructures useful in the long run? Are them fit to develope a sustainable transportation system, or will they push the region towards an environmental and social dead end street?
The two main means chosen to carry out this strategy have been: first, the loans or financing schemes made available by the European banks created for this and similar purposes (European Investment Bank – EIB - and European Bank for Reconstruction and development – EBRD); and secondly, the EU direct operations in the field of transportation through programs shaped expressly for countries and regions less economically developed and industrialized (Instrument of pre-Accession – IPA - and the Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and Stabilization - CARDS). In the last few years, the European Structural Funds have entered this list with regard to Bulgaria and Romania (which became EU members in 2007).
The mechanism adopted by Bruxelles to implement the above mentioned infrastructural plan for the Balkans is the financing of ports, inland waterways, railways, airports and roads/motorways on which the entitled European agencies agreed upon with local authorities. In this way the logistical needs of each Balkan country involved (and inside them, of each local body) have been reconciled with the EU infrastructural strategies and programs.
On the background of this operational, bilateral method there was (and still is) a two-sided advantage. For the Balkan states, there was the necessity of collecting capital and knowledge to promptly rebuild their public infrastructures after the war and at the same time bind the EU in what would have been an integration process now well under way. On the other hand, the European Union and its member states found an underdeveloped region to invest in and also revive their private national banking and construction sectors with a wave of new job orders for the years to come.

Original title: Balkans transportation system as shaped by the EU reconstruction aid: Modernization or a dead end street?

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