Partnerships backed up European leaders

The European Commission has said it wants to see a bigger role played by partnerships schemes – but warns that regulatory delays and public debts could hinder any expansion.

The commission said last month that partnerships projects had become “critical” as the recession made it increasingly difficult for governments to fund infrastructure. 

However, private sector interest could be limited “by the prevailing regulatory framework and new economic constraints”, as well as by a shortage of governments able to deliver complex PPP projects. 

To counter those problems, the commission said it would next year set up a PPP group that would aim to “reduce the administrative burden and delays” in setting up partnership schemes.

Speeding up the award of planning permits would be a particular focus, the commission said. It also promised to work with the European Investment Bank “with a view to increasing the funding available for PPPs”. That would involve refocusing existing European funding programmes and creating specific financial instruments for partnerships schemes. 

“Developing PPP as an instrument becomes critical as the financial and economic crisis is taking its toll on the ability of the public purse,” the commission’s communication to member states added. “The interest of the public sector in innovative financing instruments has increased, and so has the political readiness.”