Cost-benefit Analysis of Infrastructure Projects in an Enlarged European Union: Returns and Incentives
We consider results of cost-benefit analysis (CBA) in a large sample of ISPA (Structural Instrument for Pre-Accession countries) projects co-financed by the European Union to support investment in transport and environment. The research focus is on the empirical analysis of the variability of financial and economic rates of return and how to integrate this information in the EU co-financing mechanism. We investigate to what extent the variability of expected returns and of EU co-financing rates is due to structural project characteristics (sectors, countries) or to other unexplained factors, including errors in the appraisal. We find that while the absolute level of grants is related to sectors, the EU co-financing rate depends on countries. There is no justification in economic analysis of such a country bias, because the variability of economic rate of returns is unrelated either to sector or country factors. These findings points to the need of a more consistent approach to evaluation and EU co-financing of infrastructure supported by the EU funds. We suggest possible improvements, based on the idea to offer an incentive to projects with high-expected economic␣rates of return relative to a benchmark and showing ex-post the realism of the initial analysis. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2005
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