MEPs want to ensure sufficient funding for Connecting Europe’s future

MEPs have voted to renew the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) for the 2021-2027 period to ensure continued development of trans-European transport, energy and telecom networks.

Following Parliament’s adoption of its position on the EU’s long-term budget (Multiannual Financial Framework - MFF 2021-2027) last week, the Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committee and the Transport and Tourism (TRAN) Committee on Thursday set out their priorities for funding of transport, energy and telecommunication projects to stimulate future growth.

Rapporteur Marian Jean Marinescu (EPP, RO) said: “Mobility is the basis for growth and jobs. The 2021-2027 CEF (2.0) will deliver more benefits for citizens.

The two Committees voted to increase the budget by almost €6bn compared to the Commission’s proposal. CEF transport funds should go towards the completion of the TEN-T corridor, bringing better connectivity and accessibility to citizens across Europe.

We also agreed that the Commission must present a Framework Programme for the entire MFF period, including a timetable for work programs and calls for proposals, to provide predictability and transparency and allow EU Member States to prepare mature project proposals.”

Rapporteur Pavel Telicka  (ALDE, CZ) said: “CEF is already performing well, but we are nonetheless struggling to deliver when it comes to cross-border projects and synergies. The next MFF is an opportunity to provide additional support to those carrying out such projects.

By focusing on facilitating cooperation and increasing funding, we can support the promotion of cross-border projects and joint ventures, and simplify the framework for synergies.

For the first time, CEF will integrate a military dimension financed directly from the European Defence Fund, for the development of civilian transport infrastructure. The aim is to achieve rapid and seamless mobility, and to strengthen our capacity to respond to humanitarian crises and natural disasters.”

Rapporteur Henna Virkkunen (EPP, FI) said: “In the new CEF 2.0 we are looking for more synergies between the transport, energy and digital sectors. Taking into account the new climate targets, 60% of CEF funding should invest in projects contributing to climate actions.

Cross-border connections are crucial to complete the energy union and digital single market. The focus of trans-European energy infrastructure is increasingly on electrical interconnections, energy storages and smart grids.

A significant new element in CEF 2.0 is the inclusion of cross-border renewable projects. In the digital connectivity infrastructure domain, one important element will be actions contributing to improving access to very high-capacity networks, providing gigabit connectivity, including 5G.”

MEPs want the CEF fund to receive €43.85bn in constant (2018) prices (€63.85bn in current prices), with €33.51bn (€53.51bn in current prices) for transport (including an envisaged transfer of €10bn (€11.26 in current prices) from the Cohesion Fund). While €5.77bn (€6.5bn in current prices) of transport project funding should go towards projects that can adapt the TEN-T networks with a view to enabling civilian-defence dual use of infrastructure, contributing to the development of the Defence Union.

€7.68bn (€8.65bn in current prices) of the total CEF funding should go to energy network projects, including cross-border projects in the field of renewable energy and €2.66bn (€3bn in current prices) to digital network development.

MEPs underlined that they are ready to start negotiations with EU Ministers at any time to reach an agreement before the European elections in May.

The European Parliament plenary will now vote on the decision to start talks with EU Ministers, which can begin once their common position is agreed. MEPs want to make as much progress as possible before the end of this legislative term.

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Martin Banks

Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a highly qualified journalist with many years experience of working within the EU institutions. He is an occasional, and highly valued, contributor to EU today, writing on a wide variety of issues.

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