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Sweden risks missing common EU infrastructure objectives

Sweden has undertaken to develop some roads and railways so that the EU will have a cohesive core network. The Swedish National Audit Office's audit shows that the Government and the Swedish Transport Administration have not given this commitment priority in national infrastructure planning, which means there is a risk that the EU objectives will not be achieved in time.

Road and railway in Swedish rural area.

Audit background

Transport infrastructure is a policy area where both the EU and its Member States have legislative power: “shared competence”. This means that responsible authorities in the individual member state are to endeavour to meet both national objectives and objectives formulated by the EU. The EU objectives are formulated in the TEN-T Regulation, established in 2013. The purpose is to enable more effective and higher quality transport for citizens and companies in coherent corridors, called core networks. Under the regulation the objectives must be achieved by 2030.

The national objectives are presented in the latest infrastructure bill, approved by the Riksdag in 2016. The national planning process is to have an intermodal perspective, in accordance with the four-step principle, with the ambition that the most effective transport solutions are to be implemented regardless of the mode of transport. The intended infrastructure projects are presented in the national transport plan for infrastructure, which covers a twelve-year period. The plan is normally revised every fourth year. For each project there must be a single impact assessment effect containing a cost-benefit analysis including non-priced impacts, a transport policy objective analysis and a distribution analysis. Proposed new projects, based on the Swedish Transport Administration’s internal decisions, must have been subjected to a choice of measure study.

The Government and the Swedish Transport Administration have the main responsibility for ensuring that both the EU objectives and the national objectives for the Swedish core network are fulfilled. Sweden’s starting point for achieving the EU objectives by 2030 was relatively good. Several of the objectives, both for roads and railways had already been achieved in Sweden when they were set in 2013. As regards roads there are some parts that do not meet the EU objectives for motorways/express roads. In addition, there is a target for rest areas along roads of a certain quality and at certain intervals, where there is some lack of clarity as to whether the objectives have been met. As regards railways there are two EU objectives that have not as yet been achieved; being able to run freight trains with a length of at least 740 metres throughout the core network and a line speed for freight trains of at least 100 km/hr in the core network.

The Swedish National Audit Office decided in January 2017 to start this audit, as at that time there were indications that neither the Government nor the Swedish Transport Administration had given priority to the work of coordinating and trying to meet the EU objectives in 2013–2016. This was despite the fact that the current state of knowledge indicates that it may be economically efficient to meet the EU objectives that are not currently met.

The purpose of the audit has been to examine how the Swedish Transport Administration and the Government coordinate the national objectives with EU objectives for the TEN-T Regulation and whether the EU objectives are taken into account systematically in planning the national infrastructure initiatives.

Press contact: Olle Castelius, phone: +46 8-5171 40 04.

Presskontakt: , telefon: 08-5171 42 06.


Updated: 14 February 2018

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