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What the EU needs above all is to move away from the silly notion of trying to regulate the bottom line, and occasionally the top line, but leaving everything in between as Somebody Else's Problem.

The EU needs to start building and running actual infrastructure - railways, power lines, ports, airports, and other cross-border infrastructure. It needs to do so on budgets and scopes of work determined by engineering reality, not arbitrary fiscal rules. Both because this will directly show people an EU that makes their lives better and because it will foster the correct mentality in the European bureaucracy - a mentality of operations and engineering rather than finance and cost control.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Aug 28th, 2016 at 05:40:09 PM EST
Sorry, but in the modern world the last thing a senior civil servant wants to do is actually run an operation.  It's all about giving Directions, setting standards, controlling budgets - and letting someone else take the flak when - in the real world - it turns out the problems are beyond the scope/capability of those objectives, standards and costs. Modern governance systems are all about avoiding accountability for actual delivery.  It's always somebody else who must have fucked up and failed to deliver on the absolutely flawless strategy.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Aug 28th, 2016 at 06:11:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I totally agree, with some remarks:
As a priority, investment should target peripheral countries,
  • for infrastructure works, thus contributing to boost employment and develop industrial capacity (provided the works are not made using detached workers...).
  • for a massive effort in education and vocational training to reduce the gap with center countries.


"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Sun Aug 28th, 2016 at 06:12:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Local content requirements is a perfectly fine and respectable way to do industrial policy, but I disagree about using economic rather than engineering indicators to prioritize projects. Absent the fixed exchange rate policy (and that will need to go in any case), I think priority needs to be based on which areas are underserved by the relevant infrastructure, not which areas are underserved in pork barrel.

Now, it so happens that underserved countries will usually be peripheral countries, both because good infrastructure helps you to not be peripheral and because core countries are the ones who have historically been able to have nice things. But I see a danger in letting economic stimulus take priority over engineering. Partly because a major point of the exercise is to make the federal EU bureaucracy think in terms of industrial rather than fiscal policy. And partly because building rail lines to nowhere isn't going to win the EU any friends long-term.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Aug 28th, 2016 at 06:49:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
..That would be ignoring engineering reality. Europe needs infrastructure that ties it together. Geography dictates a whole bunch of it will be in Germany.
Which is fine.
Germany is also running it's economy way below capacity, so having some stimulus imposed on it is all well and good.
by Thomas on Sun Aug 28th, 2016 at 06:57:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you underestimate the disparity in existing infrastructure. For German infrastructure to tie Europe together you need infrastructure in other parts of Europe to connect to.

The most obvious candidates for rail projects are Spain, Poland, and the Balkans. And I could definitely see a lot of time and effort being well spent on dredging and reworking bridges to make more of our rivers navigable. Because it's really hard to beat barges for cost and energy efficiency in hinterland transportation.

The power grid is in a lamentable state all over, so you can pretty much prioritize your projects by tossing darts at a map - I promise you you'll find a worthwhile way to spend your engineers' time within a hundred km of any point of impact.

I could also see potential in creating an East Mediterranean transshipment hub to match Hamburg and Algeciras, but the private sector seems to be doing okayish at building ports so the urgency is probably not very great.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Aug 28th, 2016 at 07:10:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Could I have an undersea rail tunnel linking Ireland to mainland Europe please...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Aug 28th, 2016 at 07:14:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not unless it goes via the UK, no.

But I could see a case for linking Ireland to Wales and Northern Ireland to Scotland, and giving the entire English and Scottish rail net an overhaul.

And a second English Channel tunnel, obviously.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Aug 28th, 2016 at 07:19:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps if British rail services are re-nationalised...


Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Aug 28th, 2016 at 07:37:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One of the very tangible advantages an overbearing EU bureaucracy could provide if it were functioning properly would be to just go in and build cross-country corridors, with appropriately located pre-works for hooking up local connections, and proper right-of-way reservations around them to allow later expansion if the locals come to their senses.

If the locals insist on not connecting their cities to a perfectly nice network backbone like that, well you can drag a horse to water but you can't make it drink.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Aug 28th, 2016 at 07:41:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... Tunnels for everyone!

A few hilarious links:

http://www.uic.org/cdrom/2006/wcrr2006/pdf/388.pdf

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/37449974_Global_modelisation_of_the_Swissmetro_maglev_using _a_numerical_platform

Key idea: social and economic networks are limited in the end by travel times. Planes are fast, but can't land in city centers, and getting on one is a major production.

Planes are fast because they can go high, where air resistance is less because there is less air.

If you run your trains in a tunnel, and seal the tunnel properly, you can pump most of the air out of the tunnel and run trains faster than airplanes. And keep the whole city center stations, precise schedules and rapid on-off boarding paradigm.

The Japanese proposal is considering 900 KM/h maglevs.  This how you do nationbuilding by engineering fiat - once the tunnels are done and the tracks are laid, the places connected will be so close in terms of travel time that untangling them politically becomes a very dicy proposition.
Also, of course, some military utility to the ability to redeploy forces at 900km/h underground.

by Thomas on Sun Aug 28th, 2016 at 10:29:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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