The proportion of EU "cohesion" fund finance supporting new rail rather than road infrastructure increased to just under one-third of transport funding in 1997, the European Commission announced today. The figure is contained in the Commission's annual report on the Ecu2.75bn cohesion fund, which supports transport and environment infrastructure projects in the poorer countries of the EU - currently Spain, Portugal, Greece and Ireland. The Commission said it had taken note a criticism by the European Parliament that too much transport funding in previous years went on roads (ENDS Daily 4 July 1997). On average, the proportion going to rail has been under than 20%. The report also states that 1997 was the first year since the cohesion fund was created in 1993 that more than half the total had gone on environment projects, such as drinking and waste water systems. The Commission says that the cohesion fund should continue in its present form well into the next decade and that a similar fund of Euro1bn should be established to fund transport and environment projects in EU candidate countries to help them bring their environmental standards in line with EU law.
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