EU’s transport and energy networks better connected thanks to the CEF

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Credit: Blackstation (Getty)

After long negotiations, the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council reached a provisional agreement on the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), a key EU funding instrument to promote growth, jobs and competitiveness through targeted infrastructure investment at European level.

Its main goal is to foster investments in the trans-European transport, energy and digital infrastructure projects, crucial for the development of the Energy Union, the Digital Single Market and sustainable transport modes.

The CEF is supposed to bridge the gaps in financing of infrastructure projects where the market failed to attract enough investments due to high risks, or the scale of investments needed exceed resources available at Member States level. It is the only instrument of this scale that addresses market failures. It focuses on the projects with a cross-border and strong European dimensions and aims to integrate fully Union climate objectives into its programmes.

MEP Pavel Telicka, co-rapporteur on this file said:

“CEF is an extremely successful programme and taking into account that the infrastructure investment landscape has completely changed since 2014, the ambition we had for the next CEF was to maintain the quality of the projects it finances, while resetting the priorities of the Programme. Looking at the number of EU programmes and the variety of financial support the EU can provide, CEF have to be 100% clear about what it should achieve.

In this respect, we are sending the very positive signal that now is time to connect our networks across borders: in transport, in energy or in digital sectors. We have, throughout the text, emphasized and incentivised the good cooperation between authorities from different Member States. The next CEF will grant a bonus in terms of co-financing when a solid cooperation on the two sides of a border is established. This is, I believe, a win-win situation as with no good cooperation, we have seen projects remaining in limbo for years and money being wasted.

Equally so, we can no longer think of investment exclusively in terms of transport or energy or digital, instead we need to achieve a comprehensive approach to public spending which encompasses all priorities. This starts already at the level of project applicants and this is why the Parliament defended the idea that, under the new CEF, the programme should allocate extra co-financing for projects that combine the priorities of two sectors.

Eventually, and this was a very important point for me, the monitoring of the Programme will be strengthened for the next period: more information about the actual achievements of the projects will be made available, allowing thereby a better assessment of the progress made along the corridors.”

MEP Morten Petersen, ALDE Shadow for the Industry, Research and Energy Committee on this file said:

“With today’s agreement among the institutions, the Union is taking important steps to align the CEF with its climate and energy goals. The urgency of resolute action in the field of decarbonisation cannot be overestimated and I am happy to say that the criteria for CEF energy projects will be evaluated in 2020 and should be appropriately updated in line with our Paris commitments. This is a concrete result of the EP’s efforts.

At the same time, the EP fought hard and ensured that a significant amount of the CEF energy envelope will be spent on cross-border renewable infrastructures.

Once again, the EP is leading the way in the energy transition and the Union’s climate efforts. We must continue this fight in the coming years and ensure that Europe achieves a genuinely sustainable and resilient energy union.”

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