Europe’s infrastructure is crumbling

Posted By Darren Winters on Aug 24, 2018

Europe’s infrastructure is crumbling

The Genoa motorway Bridge collapse, a vital logistics hub linking the Genoa port, the Italian Riveria with southern coastal France, underscores the fact that Europe’s infrastructure is crumbling, neglected and starved of capital investment for too long.

Europe’s infrastructure is crumbling

France has more than 800 bridges which are at risk of collapsing, according to an audit commissioned by the French government.

The audit, reported by Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper, said a third of the 12,000 government-maintained bridges in France needed repairs.
Moreover, 7 percent – about 840 bridges – present a “risk of collapse” in coming years and may need to be closed down, according to the report.

More than 50 years on from the Marshall Plan and Europe’s infrastructure is crumbling

Europe's infrastructure is crumblingA post-WWII American initiative to aid Europe which amounted to $12 billion (nearly $100 billion in 2016 US dollars) kick-started Europe’s post-WWII reconstruction infrastructure boom of the 50s and 60s. The unification of Europe through the European Union (EU) has been successful in preventing an outbreak of war between member countries. The EU has fostered a period of peace and relative prosperity on the continent. However, many of Europe’s bridges built during the post-WWII reconstruction boom are now over 50 years old.

Moreover, as European shopping habits move online the frequency of heavy vans, lorries passing over bridges to make multiple deliveries is likely to increase over time.

So Europe’s crumbling infrastructure is under greater stress today and it is a trend which is likely to continue going forward.

Europe’s infrastructure is crumbling and it is no secret

The Genoa motorway Bridge was known to be structurally damaged before the collapse.

Experts in Parliament, industry, and academia raised alarms that the Genoa motorway Bridge was deteriorating and possibly dangerous.

Civil engineers have raised concerns that reinforced concrete could be deteriorating faster than was expected. The average lifespan of highway bridges is about 70 years but with load capacity increasing over the years putting more stress on bridges that is likely to reduce its lifespan.

Thousands of other bridges in Italy may be at risk, experts warn.

“All Italian bridges made of concrete between the 1950s and 1960s have come to the end of their life,” Settimo Martinello, director of 4EMME Service, a company that carries out inspections and checks on the state of 50,000 bridges in Italy, told CNN on Thursday. “They’re not eternal.”

Europe’s infrastructure is crumbling and that is going to provide the EU challenges and opportunities

The EU spending limits are putting lives at risk and eurosceptics are now arguing whether they should comply.

“If external constraints prevent us from spending to have safe roads and schools, then it really calls into question whether it makes sense to follow these rules,” Salvini, who heads the eurosceptic League, said. “There can be no trade-off between fiscal rules and the safety of Italians”

So Europe’s infrastructure is crumbling and creating a political hot potato

The EU could now be facing two choices, either rise to the challenge and spearhead a major infrastructure plan or it could pale into insignificance.

The EU Juncker plan in April mobilized €284 billion in investment. Moreover, the Commission and the European Investment Bank has offered a total of €33.5 billion in guarantees in the hope of attracting at least €500 billion in private investment.
But where are the results? Europe’s infrastructure is crumbling in Italy, France and cracks are also appearing in Germany’s cash-starved infrastructure.

Leverkusen’s bridge epitomizes Germany infrastructure problem.The bridge has been closed to heavy goods vehicles since 2012 when cracks were discovered in the concrete. A replacement will be opened in 2020. But until then, lorries will have to find other ways across the Rhine. In Spain, the infrastructure problems are more serious than they appear due to poor planning.

Europe’s infrastructure is crumbling despite the European Central Bank (ECB) massive three year €2.4tn stimulus program

The ECB recently declared an end to its Asset Purchase Programm (APP) to end the billions of euros in a monthly bond purchase. APP has been cut in half to €15bn after September and the ECB is planning to phase them out entirely after the end of the year. But it doesn’t take a Sherlock Holmes to ask a few obvious questions.

Who were on the receiving end of the ECB’s €2.4tn stimulus? Why are the periphery debts still at record high levels?

Many southern countries still have ballooning public deficits. Greece constantly needs a bailout. Greek economic crisis continues to drive more Greek woman into prostitution.

Is that the result of the ECB’s monetary stimulus?

The central banks should want to know where their newly created fiat currency is going. Europe’s infrastructure is crumbling but the Troika (European creditors) are all jolly.

Europe’s infrastructure is crumbling and the EU urgently needs to fund real infrastructure investment

George Soros billionaire investor recently said that “The EU has a high credit rating and its borrowing capacity is largely unused. When should that capacity be put to use if not in an existential crisis?”

Soros was referring to the EU funding a Marshall Plan for Africa. But what about the EU using its high credit rating to fund a massive infrastructure programme, the likes not seen since post-WWII?

A boom in European infrastructure building could be underway, either spearheaded by the EU or outside the EU with many European version of USTrump-style leaders mushrooming.

Europe’s infrastructure is crumbling and perhaps we could see a rotation of capital from banks to civil engineering companies as the next big trend to watch. With bridges collapsing it could well mean investors get back to value investing.

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