05 Jun 2009
AT THE VERGE OF THE 2009 EUROPEAN BALLOT
Around the world, infrastructure development is considered as an important topic with significant implications for public policy. This is a long-standing and widely shared belief within the academic community; since the Autumn of 2008, the role of infrastructures as a basic necessity has only been confirmed. Most of the measures planned by our governments in Europe, in China and in America and supported by the international bodies who try to cope with the financial crisis include neo-Keynesian actions dedicated to the development of infrastructures such as rail, road, energy and wide-band communication .
In addition to government actions that are focused on short-term goal of restoring the ability of our banks and financial institutions to facilitate the general economy, many budgetary shifts affected infra-systems in our countries. We should therefore all be happy that our research community again is at the core of economic policy and supported by renewed political interest for our research topics…
A few weeks ago I was tempted to check the validity of this assumption by looking through the various programs already publicized by our fellow citizens who are running in elections for the EU Parliament. I had started comparing the national news that we are able to grasp through the press and other media when I happened upon the summary of an extensive political survey conducted throughout the European Union by the Robert Schuman Foundation*. which covered the wide variety of topics that are at stake in this election.
Unfortunately, the findings from the survey are rather bitter in terms of the relevance of NGInfra to the current policy agenda, as it stands a few days before the ballot. What struck me is that from Germany to Latvia, from Portugal to Sweden, from Holland to Slovenia, election issues do not include trans-European infrastructures. In other words, NGInfra-related strategic questions are not even among the topics that are important in a political campaign!
According to the survey, some of the main issues of interest are: Mr. Barroso’s present and future position in the European Commission; transborder political party alliances, particularly in terms of possible leadership in the new European Parliament; the redistribution of EU subsidies among the old and new member States; and the possible consequences of this election for the internal political balance.
Some may think I have been dreaming of an impossible outcome in this election. But I was not dreaming, I regret to say: I was just hoping that the crisis would force our politicians to change their behaviour in response to one of the worst economic crises we have experienced since the late twenties. It just happens that I was mistaken. Therefore I conclude that more than before, our Foundation should devote its utmost intelligence, knowledge, know-how and abilities to raise the expectations of the European public about the next generation of infrastructures. It’s not just by being right that one can improve the world; we ought to convince with facts, arguments and evidence! This is one of the challenging tasks that we are confronted with in the next several years! Good luck to all those members of our community who are willing to implement this goal!
J-P. Chamoux, Université Paris-Descartes
This paper expresses a purely personal opinion. It does not imply the approval/denial of any of the institutions and/or bodies to which the author belongs or is related to.
*Fondation Robert Schuman : Chaired by J.D. Guiliani
firstname.lastname@example.org chief editor : Pascale Joannin, Paris.