EP and Council negotiators reached a deal to upgrade the Connecting Europe Facility and release new funds for transport, digital and energy projects for 2021-2027.
A provisional agreement between Parliament and Council reached on Thursday evening sets the framework for how the funds for the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) will be used from 2021 to 2027. The programme will fund transport, energy and digital projects, and ensure that essential Trans-European projects, such as Rail Baltica, alternative fuels charging infrastructure and the roll out of 5G coverage to important transport axes are finished on time by 2030.
With an overall budget of about €30 billion (in 2018 constant prices), CEF will fund projects to modernise transport infrastructure and cross-border projects with an EU added value. Around €10 billion allocated to cross-border transport projects will come from Cohesion Funds and will help EU countries complete missing transport links. A share of €1.4 billion will be designated to fast track the completion of major missing cross border railway projects, to be selected by the Commission on a competitiveness basis.
In the digital sector, CEF will support the development of projects of common interest on safe and secure very high capacity digital networks and 5G systems, as well as the digitalisation of transport and energy networks.
The programme will finally aim to make energy networks more interoperable and ensure that projects funded are in line with EU and national climate and energy plans.
Transport and Tourism rapporteur Marian-Jean Marinescu (EPP, RO) said: “I am happy that we ensured future funding to modernise and expand infrastructure projects in Europe. Modern and efficient connections will benefit all Europeans, contribute to more growth and create jobs across the EU. More investments will also help the transport sector to cope with the many challenges posed by decarbonisation that it will face in the near future”.
His colleague and co-rapporteur on the Transport and Tourism Committee, Dominique Riquet (Renew, FR) added: “This financing tool is needed more than ever. We need to develop further and faster transport projects to stimulate growth, be more competitive and strengthen cohesion across Europe. Achieving the Green Deal will not be possible if we do not upgrade our infrastructure for the digital and environmental transition. The CEF is a necessity for Europe to achieve those goals”.
Industry, Research and Energy rapporteur Henna Virkkunen (EPP, FI) stressed: “The programme finances key cross-border connectivity and renewable energy projects between member states, and will allow Europe to take a leap towards a digital and climate-neutral economy. This is vital to ensure we stay competitive in the future”.
The informal deal on the Connecting Europe Facility programme still needs to be approved by the Council’s Committee of Permanent Representatives and Parliament’s Transport and Industry committees, and then the Council and Parliament as a whole.