Statement by Henri Grethen, Member on the European Court of Auditors, on the Special Report "Have EU Structural Measures successfully supported the regeneration of industrial and military brownfield sites"
Brussels - International Press Centre
On 18 April 2013, Henri Grethen, Member on the European Court of Auditors, answered questions about ECA's Special Report No 23/2012 "Have EU Structural Measures successfully supported the regeneration of industrial and military brownfield sites?".
The report calls on the European Commission to improve the running of regeneration projects on so-called "brownfield" sites – former industrial and military areas which are often derelict and contaminated.
The Auditors found that results could have been achieved at a reduced cost to national and EU budgets because the need for public funding was not always established and rules governing EU funded regeneration projects do not sufficiently allow public money to be clawed back if projects generate more revenue than expected. They also found that the ‘polluter pays’ principle has not been fully applied so that national and EU funds have borne part of the cost of environmental clean-ups.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||Question (in FRENCH):In the European Court of Auditors' view, have the EU's structural actions been successful, at this time, in contributing to the regeneration of brownfield sites?
||Answer by Henri Grethen, Member of the European Court of Auditors, (in FRENCH) answering yes but saying that one should be aware that this restructuring poses a real challenge; what the Court has found is that the results which they hoped to obtain in terms of employment have not been achieved, whereas results in terms of transformation and rehabilitation have been achieved; another thing is that work has often been too slow.
||Question (in FRENCH):Could you give us a concrete example?
||Answer by Henri Grethen (in FRENCH) saying that he can give two examples; one example of success was the site of a former steelworks on the banks of a river, where a tri-modal transport centre was established; the centre was very successful and in a few years all the units had been taken; another example, negative this time, was a public-private partnership set up on a former mining site; the private partner contributed the land and the ERDF provided the funds with which to rehabilitate the land, or return it to use; the value of the land was over-assessed; this led to undue profit, which the Court was compelled to comment on.
||Question (in FRENCH):So what are your recommendations to the Member States and the Commission?
||Answer by Henri Grethen (in FRENCH) saying that the Court's recommendations are simple; to the Member States, that they continue as before but using reliable data from a register in which priorities have been set; to the Commission, to ensure that the expected results as regards the creation of jobs are in fact achieved, and also to ensure that there are no undue profits - in other words, see to it that deductions are staggered over ten or fifteen years.