Tag Archives: Transparency

It appears I have an invitation to visit Dover

It may be recalled that I wrote about an extensive exchange of emails with both London and Brussels on the subject of the EU website and the difficulties of finding information on any one particular subject. In particular I was interested in how much of the remaining cost was being provided by the UK and from which source(s).

It would appear my cynical presumption that there was bound to be some form of input of public money by way of a government grant was unfounded – as the following response from Shaun Pottage of the Port of Dover shows:

Thank you for your email and your interest in the project.  I am sure you will agree that getting some European funding to support one of the UK’s key gateways is worthwhile and necessary when considering the significant growth in freight traffic we are currently seeing through the Port (20% over the last two years) and the value of trade that the 2.4 million freight vehicles per annum represents to the economy, currently some £100 billion.
As a commercially run organisation, the Port is and has been investing its own funds into the activities being financially supported by the European Union.  We receive no state subsidy or any form of public funding.  You will have seen from publicity surrounding the funding announcement what we, together with the Port of Calais, have been granted to support our delivery of some key infrastructure projects.
If you would like to visit the Port and see the work that we are undertaking through our own funds with EU support then we would be happy to show you around.
Kind regards
Shaun Pottage

Needless to say I have expressed my thanks for the invitation, whilst declining due to the distance of travel involved.

All the time and effort involved in extracting this information, both in this country and Brussels, could have been saved had the EU website been easier to navigate – but still, let us be thankful for small mercies in that finally the EU appears to have recognised the error of their ways and intend to do something about it.

The EU Website

An extensive email exchange has been taking place with both the London office of the European Union (and Brussels) in respect of the non-transparency where notification of information about the various projects that are announced – especially with regard to those from TEN-T.

A case in point is the scheme to enhance the ports of Dover and Calais, where the EU is contributing €14,261,536 out of a total project cost of €72,027,960. This begged the question of exactly how much was coming, respectively, from the United Kingdom and France  to which I was informed the EU did not hold that information – something which is totally illogical and also farcical – and that I should contact the relative port authorities (I have emailed the Dover contact provided by the EU but to date no response has been received).

Anyways, eventually an ‘EU response’ was received from Jeffrey Lamb, Research Assistant
Political Section, Representation of the European Commission in the UK, as follows:

I have now received a reply from our colleagues responsible for the management of the Europa server, which reads as follows.

The central point you raise – that all information relevant to a particular project should be easily accessible alongside the project page itself – is completely valid.

This is exactly the type of issue that we are tackling in the European Commission’s ongoing Digital Transformation project, which aims to:

  • help people find the information they are looking for quickly and easily
  • make the European Commission’s online communication more coherent
  • make it easier for people to understand what the European Commission does
  • save money with better online communications. 

We would request your patience while this extensive overhaul is ongoing, and encourage you to follow progress on the team’s blog at http://blogs.ec.europa.eu/eu-digital/home_en.

It would have been even better if they had thought about this from the outset – but then when have bureaucrats ever considered how to save money when said money is not their own?