Fast-track approval for Trans-European energy network projects
Corridors for Trans-European energy network projects and the criteria that they must meet to qualify for fast-track approval are set out in a draft regulation endorsed by the Energy Committee on Tuesday. The corridors and criteria deal was struck informally by Parliament and Council negotiators in November.
The draft Trans-European Energy Networks (TEN-E) regulation aims to accelerate the approval of priority projects of common interest, such as pipelines and power grids, so as to integrate the EU's energy infrastructure and achieve its energy goals. For a limited number of projects EU public funding would be made available by the Connecting Europe Facility, approved by the Energy and Transport committees today.
"This regulation sets forth a radically new approach to trans-European energy infrastructure projects. It is crucial to building a single energy market in Europe and achieving the '20-20-20 by 2020' goals, which will foster environmental sustainability, benefit European consumers, and create jobs and growth for companies and citizens", said rapporteur António Correia de Campos (S&D, PT).
Corridors and criteria
The regulation defines twelve EU priority corridors and areas in urgent need of development. Based on these corridors, "projects of common interest" (PCIs) are to selected and given special regulatory treatment, including fast-track permits.
Any selected project must be needed for at least one priority corridor or area listed in the regulation and must meet market integration, sustainability and security of supply criteria.
Applications for PCI status are to be submitted by project operators and assessed by twelve regional expert groups, made up of member states, the European Commission, transmission system operators (TSOs) and project promoters. However, decisions on PCI status are to be made by member states and the European Commission.
A regional list of PCIs is to be drawn up by each regional group, and the final step of the procedure is for the Commission to publish a "Union list" of all the selected projects.
All PCIs on the final EU-wide list would be eligible for streamlined permitting procedures in member states where they are located. The mandatory overall time limit for granting permits is to be 3 years and 6 months, which could be extended by a further 9 months (the current average is 10 years).
The vote in plenary is scheduled for the start of 2013.