Motion for a resolution - B8-0246/2018Motion for a resolution

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on the Connecting Europe Facility after 2020

28.5.2018 - (2018/2718(RSP))

to wind up the debate on the statement by the Commission
pursuant to Rule 123(2) of the Rules of Procedure

Pavel Telička, Gesine Meissner, Izaskun Bilbao Barandica on behalf of the ALDE Group
Ismail Ertug, Inés Ayala Sender on behalf of the S&D Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0242/2018

Procedure : 2018/2718(RSP)
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European Parliament resolution on the Connecting Europe Facility after 2020


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,

–  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[3],

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

–  having regard to its resolution of 24 October 2017 on the Reflection Paper on the Future of EU Finances[4],

–  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) 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 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[5],

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions of 15 June 2016 on the mid-term revision of the Multiannual Financial Framework[6],

–  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) 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;

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;

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 and to the decarbonisation of the European economy; 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.  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, 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;

3.  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; 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;

4.  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;

5.  Acknowledges that CEF intervention was decisive in launching most of the projects; 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;

6.  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;

7.  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;

8.  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; 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;

9.  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;

10.  Acknowledges the crucial role played by the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) in the success of the CEF, as it has ensured, under its direct management, common procedures across the three sectors, a speedy allocation of funds, very sound budgetary execution and an optimisation of financial capacity, redirecting unspent money to new actions;

11.  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;

12.  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;

13.  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;

14.  Notes the Commission proposal to allocate EUR 42 265 million to the CEF for the period 2021-2027; 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 the 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;

15.  Believes that in order to maintain the high credibility and attractiveness of the CEF programme for investors, its financial capacity under 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; underlines, in addition, that the cohesion envelope is key to the completion of the parts of the core networks in the cohesion Member States and, therefore, to the territorial cohesion of the EU; calls on the Commission and the Member States to maintain the share of the Cohesion Fund under the direct management of the CEF in the next MFF;

16.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to remain committed to the CEF’s main policy objectives regarding transport: by 2030 – completion of the TEN-T core network, including the deployment of SESAR, MoS and 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; recalls in this respect the importance of focusing on multimodal and cross-border connections;

17.  Asks the Commission to consider establishing specific, dedicated and transnational instruments to accelerate and ensure the correct implementation of horizontal priorities such as ERTMS;

18.  Invites the European coordinators to conduct, at the end of the 2014-2020 period, a thorough assessment of the projects completed or at an advanced level of construction, their practical achievements and the remaining bottlenecks in their respective corridors, and asks the Commission to ensure that the priorities of the calls reflect this assessment, which is feasible even though such projects are long-term in nature;

19.  Regrets and cannot accept that, in the 2014-2020 period, the mid-term assessment of the CEF mostly focused on the amount spent and the number of projects supported, despite the very tangible nature of most of the projects financed by the CEF; highlights the fact that the success of a programme is not guaranteed solely by the amount of money allocated and that more emphasis should be put on the practical achievements of projects, and urges the Commission to adjust its evaluation methodology; believes that the CEF has the potential to be branded as one of the very successful EU programmes provided that it is better explained and advertised, and calls on the Commission to reconsider its communication methods regarding the programme;

20.  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; calls on the Commission, therefore, to ensure the attractiveness of the retrofitting or upgrading of existing infrastructure with high innovation ambition;

21.  Welcomes the objectives set in the document ‘Action Plan on military mobility: EU takes steps towards a Defence Union’ 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;

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

Last updated: 18 September 2018
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