About this site

This website is aimed at providing critical information about public-private partnerships to those who might be curious to dig deeper: activists, NGOs, researchers, journalists, and anyone else.

An initiative of

This site is not meant to be objective. There are plenty of PPP promoters out there already.

We strive for accuracy and sober-minded assessments of partnerships with the private sector.

If you need any more information on the ins-and-outs of PPPs and what to do if you've got one coming up in your area, don't hesitate to contact us.

For more than two decades now, public-private partnerships (PPPs) have been touted across Europe and beyond as a shiny new way of building and running infrastructure like motorways, hospitals, schools and prisons. While only a few countries such as the UK, Spain, Hungary and Portugal have actually undertaken large numbers of PPP projects, PPP evangelists have been busy spreading the gospel all over the continent.

CEE Bankwatch Network, the creators of this website, started to examine PPPs in the mid-2000s as they became increasingly trendy among governments in central and eastern Europe, backed by institutions such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Commission and the European Investment Bank.

Here was a way for governments to build expensive - and in some cases environmentally damaging - infrastructure now but push the (very high) costs onto future generations, without consulting the public about it.

The Arab Spring - a revolution or a business opportunity?

“What do we want? PPPs! When do we want them? Now!”

Don't remember hearing this chant during the Arab Spring protests? Nor do we.

Egypt in particular had painful experiences with privatisation and corruption during the Mubarak years, which makes PPPs rather tricky. Yet since the revolutions both the European Investment Bank and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which are to commence and step up their activities in the region respectively, have - typically - highlighted PPPs as a promising area for investment. (See for example the EBRD here (pdf) and the EIB here (pdf).)

Wouldn't it be better to sort out some more basic elements of democracy and accountability before handing out overpriced 30-year contracts to large companies?

We're not talking here about small-scale, short-term outsourcing contracts for collecting paper for recycling or maintaining vending machines. We're talking 30-year deals for constructing and operating infrastructure that is more usually considered public. So a bad decision has to be paid off for around three decades.

PPPs and the economic crisis

Since the beginning of the global economic crisis in 2008, the model has taken hard blows. The crisis has exposed the extent of the hidden PPP debts in countries like Hungary, Portugal, and the UK and forced governments to slow down or completely stop developing new PPPs and to review existing ones.

But while the most affected countries are undertaking serious reviews, there are few signs of the lessons being learnt elsewhere, and since the Arab Spring uprisings of early 2011, the PPP evangelists have been busy pushing their frontiers into the southern Mediterranean as well.