MEPs provisionally agreed rules on the "Connecting Europe Facility" (CEF) – the EU's mechanism to fund infrastructure projects for trans-European transport, energy and telecoms networks – with the Irish Presidency of Council on Thursday. The deal on the package still needs to be confirmed by member states.
"In order to foster growth and employment, to strengthen its role in a globalised world, Europe needs strong and interconnected infrastructures in the fields of transport, energy and telecommunications. This is the main aim of the CEF, which focuses funding on projects with a European added value, contributing to deepen European integration. "I therefore deeply regret that governments do not strongly support this fund, since they proposed to drastically reduce its financial envelope," said co-rapporteur Dominique Riquet (EPP, FR).
"Nevertheless, I welcome the fact that we now have this new instrument, which will prove determining for the Union's future," he added.
"After long and difficult negotiations, we have managed to ensure and focus EU funding for transport on projects with a real European added value for citizens. These projects integrate mainly nine EU key corridors which are the outline of a new EU area of mobility based on sustainable modes of transport," said co-rapporteur Inés Ayala-Sender (S&D, ES). Most of the funding will be dedicated to cross-border projects, bridging missing links, avoiding bottlenecks and enhancing rail interoperability.
"We still hope the ongoing negotiations for the MFF 2014-2020 will give the CEF the resources needed," she said, adding that member states will still have to propose projects for co-financing and Parliament will be vigilant that commitments are upheld.
Co-rapporteur Adina Valean (ALDE, RO) said: "The European Parliament succeeded in sending the right message to the Commission and to the Council that we expect the CEF budget to be used in the most efficient manner, maximising the use of financial instruments in order to create leverage and attract private investments. This way we are also sending the right message to investors that EU funds will be allocated in a transparent and efficient way and that Europe is committed to support and attract investments to complete the single market".
The package still needs to be politically endorsed by the Council and the Parliament. Its budget (the Commission has proposed €50 billion) will depend on the outcome of current talks on the EU's long-run budget.