As set out in the Commission's
White Paper “European transport policy for 2010: time to decide”,
external effects such as congestion, accidents, health risks from
pollutant and noise emissions as well as other environmental impacts
contribute to current unsustainable development patterns. The
conclusions drawn are that the completion of the trans-European network
(TEN) and the internalisation of external effects by infrastructure
charges are essential elements of a policy aimed at overcoming
unsustainable trends in development. This clearly has implications for
the evaluation of TEN (as well as other) infrastructure projects.
At present, evaluation of investments and policy measures takes place
in a highly pragmatic manner. National guidelines exist in a number of
countries, but these differ widely in terms of their methodology, level
of detail and indicators. These differences are partly due to a natural
bias of guidelines towards state level economic and social objectives –
they were not developed for assessing international projects. In part,
however, there are also differences in assumptions between countries in
terms of the economic valuation of impacts. The existing guidelines at
EU level (DG REGIO: Guide to cost-benefit analysis of investment
projects) already was a large step in the right direction; however
these do not provide indicators or procedures that are specific enough
to act as a standard in the evaluation of e.g. TEN projects.
Guidelines from organisations like the European Investment Bank or the
World Bank do include basic economic and environmental indicators but
fail to provide an integrative view or to address certain EU-specific
concerns. Project assessment guidelines based on harmonised approaches
and comparable values are not available. Furthermore, there is a huge
gap between existing evaluation practice and theoretical approaches.
Quoting the EEA website: “The practice of strategic environmental
assessment is growing, but links with actual decision-making are weak”.
The Economic and Social Committee in a recently published opinion
paper, expresses the need for an unambiguous and harmonised framework
for socio-economic evaluation of policies, including transport.
Contrary to Japan and the USA, until now R&D in Europe in this area
has been highly fragmented, although first steps were taken in the
EUNET and IASON projects. Another useful step is the Guideline document
for TINA and now UNECE – Cost-benefit analysis of Transport
Infrastructure Projects. However, all of these documents lack many of
the numbers which HEATCO helped to provide.
Specific objectives were:
- To develop a set of
harmonised guidelines for project assessment and transport costing on
the EU level in the areas
- Value of time and congestion
- Value of accident risk
- Costs from health impacts
and costs of other nuisances due to pollutants and noise
- Wider economic effects, i.e.
- Infrastructure costs
- General CBA aspects; e.g.
inter- and intragenerational distribution, risk and uncertainty
point was the compilation and analysis of the national assessment
practice in EU25 member states and Switzerland, which was carried out
in the first project phase. Based on this, common definitions and
consistent valuation methods were agreed. The framework is based on
welfare economics and cost-benefit analysis.
- To achieve as much as
possible convergence of national guidelines within an international
framework by organising interaction with policy makers and other
relevant stakeholders. The design of harmonised guidelines was not a
straightforward task. The gap between research and practice is large
and can certainly not be bridged by research alone. In addition many
vested (though legitimate) interests exist in the various guidelines
for economic appraisal in different countries. In order to propose
guidelines at EU level, the existing differences in guidelines required
a careful mediation and uncovering of underlying assumptions and
preferences. Therefore, a process approach was required rather than a
linear sequence of development tasks. As a consequence a cyclical
approach with a series of meetings was established. In cases of
non-convergence different options were proposed in order to bridge the
gap or insight was provided for the existence of different practices.
- To conduct surveys for
- Contingent-valuation studies
for valuing noise annoyance and travel time changes were carried out in
Norway, the UK, Spain, Hungary, Germany and Sweden to explore
differences from different geographical, cultural and traffic
- To perform case studies on a
number of TEN transport infrastructure projects.
- The assessment framework was
demonstrated by applying it to selected TEN transport projects and
comparing the results with those of existing CBAs.
The main focus of HEATCO was major European infrastructure projects,
for which a sound evaluation scheme was established that in the long
run may become a standard procedure.