On 19 October the European Commission has approved a plan which will fund €50 billion worth of investment to improve Europe’s transport energy and digital networks. Targeted investments in key infrastructures will help to create jobs and boost Europe’s competitiveness at a time when Europe needs this most. The “Connecting Europe Facility” will finance projects which fill the missing links in Europe’s energy transport and digital backbone. It will also make Europe’s economy greener by promoting cleaner transport modes high speed broadband connections and facilitating the use of renewable energy in line with the Europe 2020 Strategy. In addition the funding for energy networks will further integrate the internal energy market reduce the EU’s energy dependency and bolster the security of supply. To assist with the financing of the Connecting Europe Facility the Commission has also adopted the terms for the Europe 2020 Project Bond Initiative which will be one of a number of risk-sharing instruments upon which the facility may draw in order to attract private finance in projects. The pilot phase will start already next year.

By focussing on smart sustainable and fully interconnected transport energy and digital networks the Connecting Europe Facility will help to complete the European single market. The Commission has singled out projects where additional EU investment can have the most impact. In particular the Commission expects Connecting Europe Facility investments to act as a catalyst for further funding from the private and public sector by giving infrastructure projects credibility and lowering their risk profiles. For the first time the Commission is proposing a single funding instrument for the three network sectors true to its commitment to create synergies and simplification of rules.

President José Manuel Barroso said: “The Connecting Europe Facility and the Project Bond Initiative are a perfect demonstration of the value added that Europe can provide. These proposals will help to build the roads railways energy grids and pipelines and broadband networks that are so important to our citizens and businesses. We are closing the missing links in Europe’s infrastructure networks that otherwise would not be built. This investment will generate growth and jobs and at the same time make work and travel easier for millions of European citizens and businesses”.

The Connecting Europe Facility will better mobilise private financing and allow for innovative financial instruments such as guarantees and project bonds to gain maximum leverage from this EU funding injection The European Commission will work closely with the EIB to take advantage of capital market investors’ interest in long-term investment opportunities with stable revenues.

Concerning the Trasnport sector the Connecting Europe Facility will invest €31.7 billion to upgrade Europe’s transport infrastructure build missing links and remove bottlenecks. This includes €10 billion ring fenced in the Cohesion Fund for transport projects in the cohesion countries with the remaining 21.7 billion available for all Member States for investing in transport infrastructure. The idea is to improve links between different parts of the EU to make it easier for different countries to exchange goods and people with each other.

By focussing on transport modes that are less polluting the Connecting Europe Facility will push our transport system to become more sustainable. It will also give consumers more choice about how they want to travel.
Transport systems in Europe have traditionally developed along national lines. The EU has a crucial role to play in coordinating between Member States when planning managing and funding cross-border projects. A well-functioning network is essential to the smooth operation of the single market and will boost competitiveness. The Commission proposed to create corridors to cover the most important cross-border projects. It has estimated that by 2020 €500 billion will be needed to realise a real European network including €250 billion for removing bottlenecks and completing missing links in the core network.

Read the full European Commission Press Release here


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Original Publication Date: Thu 20 Oct 2011