Transport and Industry MEPs approved an agreement on the "Connecting Europe Facility" (CEF), the EU's new funding mechanism for infrastructure projects of common interest for trans-European transport, energy and telecoms networks, at a joint committee meeting on Monday. The CEF should have a budget of about € 29.3 billion for 2014-2020 (at 2011 prices). The agreement is still subject to approval by the full house of the Parliament.
The CEF will provide funding for key transport infrastructure projects to improve cross-border connections, remove bottlenecks, bridge gaps and improve interoperability. Support should focus on projects with strong EU added value, which develop the core network, as well as those of common interest in the field of traffic management systems.
Of the, €23.17 billion earmarked for transport projects, €10 billion would be transferred from the Cohesion Fund to be used exclusively in member states eligible for Cohesion Fund money.
The CEF would support projects of common interest to modernise and expand Europe's energy infrastructure and enhance security of supply by helping to ensure that no member state is isolated or dependent on a single energy source. The European Commission estimates the number of projects of common interest contributing most to strategic energy infrastructure priority corridors and areas at about 100 in the field of electricity and 50 in the field of gas.
Projects of common interest in the fields of electricity, gas and carbon dioxide should be eligible to receive EU financial assistance for studies and, under certain conditions, for works in the form of grants or innovative financial instruments. The total budget for funding energy projects would be € 5.12 billion and MEPs insisted that these projects should be funded primarily by financial instruments.
Projects of common interest in the telecommunications sector should be eligible for EU financial support in the form of grants and procurement for core service platforms, generic services and cross-sector projects. Actions in the field of broadband deployment, including generating demand for broadband, should be eligible for EU financial support in the form of financial instruments. The total budget for the funding of telecommunication projects would be € 1 billion.
The plenary vote is scheduled for the October II session. The new regulation would enter into force on the after its publication in the EU Official Journal and apply from 1 January 2014.
In the chair: Amalia Sartori (EPP, IT)