Connecting Europe Facility: A stronger focus on synergies between the three sectors transport, energy and telecommunication

“Connecting Europe Facility” (CEF) is the EU’s new funding mechanism for infrastructure projects of common interest for trans-European transport, energy and telecoms networks with an overall budget of about € 29.3 billion for 2014-2020 (at constant 2011 prices). The CEF should accelerate the completion of trans-European networks and help to leverage funding from both the public and the private sector.

The CEF regulation informally agreed by EP and Council on 27 June lays down the conditions, methods and procedures for providing Union financial assistance to trans-European networks in order to support projects of common interest in the sectors of transport, telecommunications and energy infrastructures and to exploit potential synergies between those sectors.

Out of €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 total budget for funding energy projects will be € 5.12 billion and MEPs insisted that these projects should be funded primarily by financial instruments. The total budget for the funding of telecommunication projects will amount to € 1 billion.

Parliament defended elements of the proposal, among other things regarding a broad and flexible use of financial instruments, and achieved the following improvements:

-Higher co-financing rates for interoperability (up to 40%) and Motorways of the Sea (up to 30%).
-A distinction of funding rates between land-based and onboard components for telematic applications: up to 50% of the eligible cost for land-based components and up to 20% for on-board components of SESAR (new generation European air traffic management system), of RIS (River Information Services), of VTMIS (Vessel Traffic —Monitoring and Information Systems) and of ITS (Intelligent Transport Systems) for the road sector, up to a combined ceiling of 5% of the budgetary resources. For ERTMS, also onboard components can be co-financed by up to 50%, for ITS in the road sector all components can only be co-financed by up to 20%.
-A stronger focus on the principle of sustainability for TEN-T infrastructure.
-Better involvement of the EP through a delegated act regarding the details of the funding priorities.The Commission is obliged to detail the funding priorities for the transport sector at the beginning of the financial period to be reflected in the subsequent work programmes by a delegated act.
-A stronger focus on synergies between the three sectors transport, energy and telecommunication.

Projects of common interest in the telecommunications sector would 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. EU financial assistance should not exceed 75 % of the eligible costs for actions in the field of generic services and for horizontal actions including infrastructure mapping, twinning and technical assistance.

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