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Procedure : 2018/2718(RSP)
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RC-B8-0242/2018

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PV 31/05/2018 - 7.7
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P8_TA(2018)0237

Texts adopted
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Thursday, 31 May 2018 - Strasbourg Final edition
Connecting Europe facility after 2020
P8_TA(2018)0237RC-B8-0242/2018

European Parliament resolution of 31 May 2018 on the Transport Pillar of the Connecting Europe Facility after 2020 (2018/2718(RSP))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Articles 311, 312 and 323 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1311/2013 of 2 December 2013 laying down the multiannual financial framework for the years 2014-2020(1) and the subsequent amendment thereof by Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2017/1123 of 20 June 2017(2),

–  having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement of 2 December 2013 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline, on cooperation in budgetary matters and on sound financial management(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 6 July 2016 on the preparation of the post-electoral revision of the MFF 2014-2020: Parliament’s input ahead of the Commission’s proposal(4),

–  having regard to the Commission’s Reflection Paper of 28 June 2017 on the Future of EU Finances (COM(2017)0358),

–  having regard to its resolution of 24 October 2017 on the Reflection Paper on the Future of EU Finances(5),

–  having regard to the Commission proposal of 14 September 2016 for a Council Regulation amending Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1311/2013 laying down the multiannual financial framework for the years 2014-2020 (COM(2016)0604), the Commission communication (COM(2016)0603) and the accompanying staff working document (SWD(2016)0299),

–  having regard to the Commission proposal of 14 September 2016 for an amendment of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 2 December 2013 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline, on cooperation in budgetary matters and on sound financial management (COM(2016)0606),

–  having regard to the ratification of the Paris Agreement by the European Parliament on 4 October 2016 and by the Council on 5 October 2016,

–  having regard to its resolution of 26 October 2016 on the mid-term revision of the MFF 2014-2020(6),

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions of 15 June 2016 – Mid-term revision of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF)(7),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 2 May 2018 entitled ‘A Modern Budget for a Union that Protects, Empowers and Defends. The Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021-2027’ (COM(2018)0321),

–  having regard to the joint communication from the Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of 28 March 2018 on the Action Plan on Military Mobility (JOIN(2018)0005),

–  having regard to the Commission report of 14 February 2018 on the mid-term evaluation of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) (COM(2018)0066),

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the development and rehabilitation of transport infrastructure in the EU is still rather fragmented and represents a major challenge in terms of capacity and financing but is essential to ensuring both sustainable growth, jobs and competitiveness and social and territorial cohesion within the Union, thereby countering imbalances between regions;

B.  whereas the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) is a common, centrally managed funding programme designed to promote the development of a high-performing, sustainable and interconnected trans-European network (TEN) in the fields of transport, energy and digital services infrastructure;

C.  whereas the early completion of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) will substantially contribute to the EU’s achievement of its emission reduction targets under the Paris Climate Agreement, to the decarbonisation of the European economy and to the EU’s 20-20-20 objectives in the area of energy and climate policy; whereas the core network should be completed by 2030 and the comprehensive network by 2050;

D.  whereas one in 10 Europeans work in the wider transport sector, and whereas investing in transport infrastructure will lead to the creation of new jobs as it is estimated that every billion euros invested in the TEN-T core network will create up to 20 000 new jobs;

E.  whereas the CEF focuses on facilitating cross-border connections, establishing multimodal and urban nodes, addressing market failure and removing bottlenecks; whereas the CEF has secured the realisation of projects that would not have been implemented otherwise, thereby providing a clear EU added value in facilitating transnational cooperation and coordination;

F.  whereas the transport sector has represented the greatest share of the CEF budget in the period 2014-2020; whereas the transport share was divided into a general envelope for all Member States and a cohesion envelope available to cohesion Member States and transferred directly from the Cohesion Fund;

G.  whereas the CEF is one of the most successful EU programmes as calls have largely been oversubscribed; whereas, by the end of 2017, CEF Transport had already allocated EUR 21,3 billion in grants for TEN-T projects, triggering EUR 41,6 billion of total investments; whereas, during 2018, additional grant agreements will be signed for a blending call combining CEF grants with private finance, including from the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI); whereas the initial budget of EUR 1 billion for this call was increased in November 2017 by EUR 350 million to support the ‘Innovation and new technologies’ priority in line with the objectives of the Alternative Fuels Action Plan;

H.  whereas the introduction of the ‘use it or lose it’ principle has contributed significantly to the success of the CEF: whereas, however, the recovery of the budget of non-implemented projects should be accelerated;

I.  whereas the CEF is aimed at accelerating investment in transport infrastructure and innovation and leveraging funding from both the public and the private sectors, while increasing legal certainty and respecting the principle of technology neutrality;

J.  whereas the Commission is expected to publish its legislative proposals on European Strategic Investment, including an updated Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), in June 2018;

1.  Stresses that investing in transport infrastructure means investing in long-term sustainable growth, cohesion, competitiveness and jobs; underlines, therefore, the strategic importance of the CEF programme as regards the integration of the internal market, smart mobility and the opportunity for the EU to deliver tangible added-value for citizens through this programme;

2.  Emphasises that the CEF has been, is and must remain an effective and targeted instrument for investment in trans-European infrastructure (TEN) in transport, energy and the digital service sectors and in order to contribute to the EU’s priorities on jobs, growth and investment, the internal market, the Energy Union, the climate and the digital single market;

3.  Highlights the success of the CEF 2014-2020 programme in bringing high European added value by supporting connectivity projects with a cross-border, interoperable and multimodal dimension and projects enhancing connectivity in all modes of transport, including at sea, inland ports and inland waterways, prioritising projects that bridge missing links, and removing bottlenecks with a view to achieving a single European transport area accessible to all and an innovative transport sector; calls on the Commission to increase the cross-border added value of nodes, such as seaports, and to support projects enhancing connectivity with partner third countries;

4.  Acknowledges that the full benefit and potential of EU investment in the TEN-T network can only be realised after the completion of the core and comprehensive networks; calls on the Commission to bear in mind that the completion of these networks will require significant investments, part of which will depend on continued EU support, or they risk coming to a standstill; insists that pressure must be maintained to achieve their completion no later than 2030 and 2050 respectively, and in accordance with 21st-century standards throughout the process;

5.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that the CEF programme under the 2021-2027 MFF proposal follows on from the current programme with even broader ambition in terms of policy objectives and financial resources; emphasises that investments in digital, innovative and sustainable transport projects must be accelerated in order to move towards a greener, truly integrated, modern, accessible-to-all, safer and efficient transport system;

6.  Acknowledges that CEF intervention was decisive in launching most of the projects, especially for connectivity projects at cross-border, national, regional and local level; stresses that the CEF has proven to be a major catalyst for public and private investment; believes, however, that further action should be taken to release its full potential;

7.  Calls on the Commission to consider further ways to promote the CEF as a policy-driven instrument with specific sectoral objectives, addressing complex projects with a cross-border or EU-wide interoperability dimension;

8.  Believes that, in the next MFF, drawing on a thorough review of the 2014-2020 period and the consequences of the complex relationship between the CEF and other financial programmes and instruments, such as Horizon 2020, the ESI Funds and the EFSI, and in particular the substitution effect observed between the CEF and the EFSI, the Commission should further reinforce and ensure the complementarity between the CEF and other programmes such as Horizon Europe and the InvestEU Fund, in order to maintain and promote the clear objectives of the programme, avoid overlaps and optimise budgetary resources;

9.  Stresses that any cut to the next CEF in favour of other programmes, as happened under the CEF 2014-2020 to the EFSI and the European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP), would be considered unacceptable; urges the Commission to preserve the integrity of the financial capacity of the CEF, as a large majority of CEF funding relates to projects with wider regional and EU benefits, but for which sufficient national funding or market-based financing is unavailable;

10.  Recognises the encouraging success of the first results of the Blending Call for Proposals launched under the current CEF programme; strongly encourages the Commission, therefore, to repeat such calls in the future and continue using a stronger CEF in the form of grants, to be combined with EU and non-EU financial instruments, where possible; invites the Commission also to find ways of more effectively encouraging the participation of private co-investors, and the Member States to abolish legislative and administrative obstacles to such a process;

11.  Calls on the Commission to further encourage synergies at project level between the three sectors, which are currently limited because of the rigidity of the budgetary framework as regards the eligibility of projects and the eligibility of costs; urges the Commission to adapt infrastructure to the upcoming needs of clean and smart mobility; expects the future sectoral policy guidelines and the CEF instrument to be made more flexible in order to facilitate synergies and to be more responsive to new technological developments and priorities such as digitalisation, while accelerating the creation of a low-emission economy and addressing common societal challenges such as cybersecurity;

12.  Highlights the importance of direct management for the purposes of ensuring common procedures across the three sectors, a speedy allocation of funds and very sound budgetary execution; points out that the direct management of CEF grants has proved very efficient, with a strong project pipeline and a competitive selection process, a focus on EU policy objectives, coordinated implementation and the full involvement of Member States; acknowledges the crucial role played by the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) in the success of the CEF by optimising the budget, particularly thanks to its flexibility in quickly redirecting unspent money for certain actions to financing new ones; insists on reinforcing the INEA to ensure that EU funds are appropriately spent;

13.  Supports the application of the ‘use it or lose it’ principle in the direct management of the CEF; insists, at the same time, on maintaining the possibility of recycling commitments in cases where projects are not performing as planned in order to increase the efficiency of the CEF;

14.  Acknowledges the complexity of submitting a project, especially for large transport infrastructure, and the relevance of the technical assistance provided, e.g. through the CEF Programme Support Action, in particular to cohesion Member States, in order to promote the eligibility of mature and high-quality projects; calls on the Commission to continue providing this type of assistance and to rethink evaluation criteria that would favour a clearer identification of the added value of projects; asks the Commission, additionally, to take further steps to significantly simplify administrative requirements not only for small grants and to adapt the technical assistance provided for smaller project applicants;

15.  Welcomes the fact that in the 2014-2020 programme EUR 11,3 billion was transferred from the Cohesion Fund to the cohesion envelope of the CEF transport pillar and highlights the outstanding success of the cohesion calls;

16.  Notes the Commission proposal to allocate EUR 42 265 million to the CEF for the period 2021-2027, including EUR 7 675 million for energy projects and EUR 2 662 million (both in constant prices) for telecommunications and digital projects; regrets, however, that in constant prices the allocation to CEF–Transport amounts to EUR 11 384 million and the contribution from the Cohesion Fund amounts to EUR 10 000 million, which represent cuts of 12 % and 13 % respectively; notes and cannot accept that funds allocated to the transport pillar are the only ones that have been decreased; underlines that the challenges facing the transport sector in the internal market and the success of the CEF are at odds with a reduction in the amount of the transport envelope and asks the Commission to reconsider the amount proposed;

17.  Believes that in order to maintain the high credibility and attractiveness of the CEF programme for investors, its financial capacity during the next MFF period should be increased; stresses that an insufficient budget for transport would put the completion of the TEN-T network at risk and that this would in fact depreciate investments from public finances already made;

18.  Underlines, in addition, that the cohesion envelope has a strong regional dimension that responds to local demand and is key to the completion of the parts of the core network in the cohesion Member States and therefore to the territorial cohesion of the EU; notes that investment in EU transport infrastructure, when implemented with the contribution from the Cohesion Fund, should remain a well-balanced system of centrally managed and shared management sources; stresses that the amount earmarked under the direct management of the CEF framework from the Cohesion Fund in the next MFF 2021-2027 must at least remain at the same level as in the previous MFF 2014-2020 and that this amount must be sufficient to complete, during the next MFF 2021-2027, those projects funded from the earmarked Cohesion Fund under the current CEF;

19.  Recalls that the completion of the transport core network in the EU and the fulfilment of the policy priorities will continue to require the participation in decision-making of the citizens and stakeholders concerned, transparency in assessing and monitoring the environmental and financial implementation of projects, the improvement of modal integration, and the promotion of co-modal operations;

20.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to remain committed to the CEF’s main policy objectives in the transport sector: by 2030 – completion of the TEN-T core network, including the deployment of Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR), Motorways of the Sea (MoS) and the European Rail Traffic Management Systems (ERTMS), and the transition towards clean, competitive, innovative and connected mobility, including an EU backbone of alternative-fuels charging infrastructure by 2025; progress towards the completion of the TEN-T comprehensive network by 2050;

21.  Underlines the need for a stronger focus on smart horizontal projects; therefore asks the Commission to consider establishing specific, dedicated and transnational initiatives to accelerate and ensure the correct implementation of horizontal priorities such as ERTMS by leveraging private investments, in part by bringing together grants and financial instruments;

22.  Recalls, in respect of the transport sector, the importance of focusing on multimodal and cross-border connections, digital solutions, modal shift and more sustainable transport; believes that the updated CEF should also prioritise more direct linkages between the core and comprehensive networks; believes that these objectives should be reflected in the lists of pre-identified projects included in the next CEF regulation;

23.  Recognises that the transport sector should take full advantage of the opportunities offered by digital and innovative technologies and acknowledges that new innovative transport infrastructure is always more attractive for investment, especially from the private sector; points out, however, that existing infrastructure remains the backbone of the EU network and emphasises the urgency of investing more heavily in the maintenance of existing infrastructure; calls on the Commission, therefore, to ensure the attractiveness of the retrofitting or upgrading of existing infrastructure with high innovation ambition;

24.  Calls on the Commission to devote particular attention to the outermost regions (ORs), as enshrined in Article 349 TFEU, by extending the core network of ports to improve connectivity within their geographical basins, between the regions themselves, with the mainland and with third countries; considers that the ORs should have up to 85 % of co-financing in all transport modes in order to improve their access to calls and to create regular maritime connections between the ORs and mainland areas; calls on the Commission to consider the creation of a specific call for the ORs and to consider, moreover, the allocation of funding for innovative technology for regional airports in the ORs so as to guarantee the safety and maintenance of airport infrastructure;

25.  Welcomes the objectives set in the joint communication on the Action Plan on Military Mobility in terms of both improving infrastructure and enabling synergies; calls on the Commission to use the CEF to support the development of dual-use civilian-defence infrastructure along the TEN-T network;

26.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission and the Member States.

(1) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 884.
(2) OJ L 163, 24.6.2017, p. 1.
(3) OJ C 373, 20.12.2013, p. 1.
(4) OJ C 101, 16.3.2018, p. 64.
(5) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0401.
(6) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0412.
(7) OJ C 17, 18.1.2017, p. 20.

Last updated: 16 July 2019Legal notice