The Council and the European Parliament successfully set up a provisional agreement on the second edition of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), which is also a flagship programme of the EU. The aim of the new CEF is to continue to fund key projects within the areas of transport, energy and digitalisation. The programme is planned to be run from 2021 to 2027, with an overall budget of 33.71 billion euro.
The planned budgets for each sector will be 25.81 billion euro for the transport sector (including 11.29 billion euro for cohesion countries), 5.84 billion euro for the energy industry and 2.06 billion euro for digitalisation.
In the field of transport, the programme is going to promote the development and the modernisation of railways, road, inland waterway and maritime infrastructure, as well as safe and secure mobility. Another highlighted project is the trans-European transport networks (TEN-T), which will also be further funded by CEF, mainly focusing on missing links and cross-border projects. Plus, an additional 1.56 billion euro will finance major rail projects between cohesion countries.
“We are very happy with the provisional deal reached today, as it is fully in line with the European Council conclusions of July last year,” said Pedro Nuno Santos, President of the Council, Portuguese Minister for Infrastructure and Housing. “Having reached a deal with the Parliament today allows the first calls under the Connecting Europe Facility to be launched before the Summer break.”
“Thanks to this programme, we have better transport connections and energy networks, as well as better digital services and connectivity in Europe,” he added. “And this substantial funding must and will continue. It is especially important for overcoming COVID-19-related challenges and tackling climate change.”
Within the energy framework, CEF aims to contribute to the further integration of the European energy market, improving the interoperability of energy networks across borders and sectors, ensuring supply-security and facilitating decarbonisation. Also, renewables are included: funding will also be available for cross-border projects in the case of renewable energy generation.
In the area of digital connectivity, it is stated that the digital transformation of the economy and society depends on universal access to reliable and affordable high and very high-capacity networks, furthermore, digital connectivity is also a decisive factor in closing economic, social and territorial divides, that is why in this case the programme has been broadened. To projects, which generate additional area coverage (also for households), priority will be given.
The new CEF is going to support synergies between transport, energy and digitalisation to strengthen the effectiveness of EU actions and minimise implementation costs. The programme is also going to promote cross-sectoral work in areas such as connected and automated mobility and alternative fuels, moreover, it aims to mainstream climate action.
The CEF regulation will enter into force the day after its publication in the EU Official Journal. It will apply retroactively from 1 January 2021.