Pascal Smet and Jan Olbrycht on long-term investments for cities and regions
On 8 march 2017 the Urban Intergroup and the Long-term Investment and Reindustrialisation Intergroup hosted a joint workshop led by Polis and co-organised by CEMR and EUROCITIES at the European Parliament in Brussels entitled "Long-term investments: barriers and opportunities for regional and local authorities".
"The European Commission consistently calls for investment to spur economic growth and create jobs. National and local governments are urged to set up large infrastructure projects together with the private sector. That is all very well, but it is in complete contradiction to the strictness with which budgetary rules are applied", said Pascal Smet, Minister of Mobility and Public Works of Brussels Capital Region (Polis member) during his speech on how to unlock transport infrastructure investments for the future.
"The Brussels Capital Government will invest 5.2 billion euros in new metro and tram lines and 750 million euros to renovate its tunnels but accounting rules prevent us from spreading out these investments in line with the works carried out. In addition, rules on Public Private Partnerships have become so strict that it proves difficult to activate private capital. The city cannot wait for European accountants to see the light if we want to carry on our investment and projects".
MEP Jan Olbrycht – president of the Urban Intergroup - stressed that “When we are discussing long-term investments at local level we discuss the future of Europe!” The President of the URBAN Intergroup added that a clear answer is needed from the EU on flexibility in budget and financial accounting rules. This is key in order to boost local investments delivering long-term benefits. “We need a clear answer what we want from the EU. Do we want to have a European Commission as a kind of agency for private investments or a strong actor in the field of public investments in Europe?”