Cover M4

Europe’s most expensive motorway project has failed

Based on suspicions of cartel and overpricing, Brussels has rejected financing what came to be known as Europe’s most expensive motorway, the M4. The project came into the European authorities’ scope of attention after a submission from MEP Benedek Jávor.  This miserable failure could have been prevented had the Hungarian authorities, who were the first to be warned by the EP member of Dialogue for Hungary, started dealing with the issue in time.
According to the original plans, the segment of the motorway between Abony and Fegyvernek was to be built for 3.79 billion Forints per kilometre (largely from EU funds) as opposed to the earlier record-keeper, the segment of the M7 motorway, including the viaduct, costing 2.8 billion per kilometre. The current motorway segment is without any extra – nothing would explain such a high price. Benedek Jávor, MEP from Dialogue for Hungary, has already issued questions to the government about the reasons last year; however, neither the Minister for Development, László Némethné, nor Mr. János Lázár, reacting on behalf of the Prime Minsiter, deemed intervention necessary. Back then the only response Mr. Jávor was given was that “the price of bitumen and asphalt has increased by 43% in the last ten years” (which is not true) and that because of the situation of the Hungarian economy, the state can only take loans for a higher price (which is irrelevant in case of road-building project funded by the EU).
In the meantime, the costs have been heavily raised from 110 billion to 160 billion, which goes beyond rational explanation even further. As the government was reluctant to initiate an investigation, Dialogue for Hungary turned to OLAF, the anti-fraud agency of the EU, which then forwarded Mr. Jávor’s submission to the responsible director general of the European Commission. Now it seems that the file was not just being tossed around by the EU organizations as even the Commission declared that the calculated expenses are astonishingly and irrationally exaggerated in the project carried out by the largest national road-construction companies (the Colas-Swietelsky consortium, the Közgép-A-Híd couple and Strabag).
The EU is reluctant to pay the bills of an investment that is suspected of cartel; thus, the project can only be financed by Hungarian tax-payers. According to Dialogue for Hungary it is sad that the government did not take their earlier remarks seriously in preventing the theft in time, thus causing damages to decent Hungarian tax-payers, worth hundreds of billions of Forints. The opposition party now urges strict investigation, accountability and revision affecting the entire EU investment portfolio: neither European nor Hungarian tax-payers wish to further assist to building up an Orbánesque state based on theft.


26 March 2015

This post is also available in: Hungarian