At the opening conference on sustainable financing for the regions, 21 March in London, a very brand new study on investment in public infrastructures will be presented by Mr. Jérôme Hamilius, ECS Director at the Council of Europe Development Bank – CEB.
Just today, the CEB has published on its website the study “Investing in Public Infrastructure in Europe. A local economy perspective”, presenting an overview of the CEB’s long-standing experience in improving the living conditions in urban and rural areas across Europe. It also assesses recent trends and challenges in the provision and financing of local infrastructure across CEB member states and their implications for future lending to this sector. Here the key messages of the study.
The dragging of the crisis
There has been a slow and uneven recovery in public investment in Europe since 2009. While all levels of government are seeing investment levels below pre-crisis peaks, local governments are noticeably lower than central government levels. Moreover, the study shows that the public capital stock (the accumulated stock of all public infrastructure) is beginning to drop in many countries, after years of weakening public investment in infrastructure. This deterioration may result in sub-optimal delivery of public services in the near future.
Re-start from the people needs
Yet, the scale of investment needs in the local infrastructure sector across Europe is particularly large, given the changing demographics, increasing urbanisation, shifting migration patterns, and rising pressures from climate change. Investment in this sector should thus be a driving force in the current challenging environment, with the clear objective of improving people’s welfare and quality of life. In this respect, regional and local authorities have a huge potential to revive infrastructure investment as they play a key role in financing and managing public investment programmes.
How can the CEB help?
The CEB endeavours to respond to local investment needs in its member countries. In the coming years, from a geographic standpoint, the focus of CEB action could be placed on the countries that have experienced the most severe decline and weakest recovery in public capital investment since 2009. From a sectoral standpoint, the CEB will examine the possibility of providing financing in the following areas: urban and rural investment in infrastructure and services, “silver economy”, migrant integration, urban and rural adaptation to climate change. Given its social mandate, the CEB will be giving special attention to vulnerable and marginalised groups in society such as low-income households, the unemployed, the frail elderly, people with disabilities or chronic diseases, ethnic minorities and migrants.