The policy of navigable ways and the territorial integration of Mercosur and the European Union

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Infrastructure policies are on the agenda in Europe where, with the Union enlargement, there exists an important problem of territorial cohesion and continental communications. This problem must be solved, even considering the unpleasant eventuality that the condition of the European states public finances do not allow all the planned installations. It must be pointed out that, within the context of a multi-modal transportation policy, associated with the very contemporary objectives of sustainable development, navigable ways are able to regain the integrative function they fulfilled in the history of several European nations. Indeed, one may imagine, from what already exists, a “navigable scale” going from France to Ukraine, connecting the north and south facades of Europe. Even now, in Southern America, this political and economic integration function of navigable ways is about to be confirmed, within the context of Mercosur (Common market of the Southern cone) with the start of the Hidrovia project. Under the impulse of the new Brazilian and Argentine governments who, as was apparent during the last WTO conference in Cancun, privilege community regional development over free-trade, Mercosur gambles on improving its domestic navigation (facilitated by the presence of great rivers) and its fluvial connections to gain the geo-economical cohesion it lacks and achieve its political integration. – Summary AFRI-2004