The European Court of Auditors (ECA) has slated the European Commission’s (EC) Marco Polo rail programme, which aims to move freight away from the road towards other modes of transport using EU funds.
According to a new report published by the ECA, Marco Polo programmes have been ineffective and should be discontinued.
A spokesperson for EC Transport told GreenPort: “This confirms our approach to end Marco Polo as it exists now. What is important to note though is the fact that although the programme did not deliver as planned, it did deliver very largely for what money was spent on.”
One of the main findings of the audit was that there were serious indications of “deadweight” projects which could have gone ahead without EU funding. This comes as 13 of the 16 beneficiaries audited confirmed they would have started and run the transport service without a subsidy.
The audit also revealed there were not enough project proposals put forward because of the market situation.
Under the first Marco Polo programme (2003 to 2006), a total of 1.5m tonnes of CO2 was saved, and 1.23m 18 tonnes truck trips avoided, giving a total global environmental benefit of €432.9m. The second Marco Polo programme (2007 to 2011) saw 2.86m tonnes of CO2 saved and 2.33m 18 tonnes truck trips avoided.
Altogether, 4m truck operations were shifted to rail, sea and inland waterways.
The spokesperson added that for the future, as there is a political need for support of innovative freight transport solutions, there will be carefully framed support possibilities under the future TEN-T programme, with annual calls for instance.