Written by Matthew Parry, Marketa Pape and Alex Wilson
The European Commission estimates that some €970 billion should be invested in trans-European (TEN) transport, telecommunications and energy network infrastructure by 2020 if Europe is to reach its full potential in terms of growth and cohesion. The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) is designed to contribute to this objective, through a mix of grants, procurement, financial instruments and project support attracting private funding for investments that otherwise may be difficult to secure.
Established for the first time for the 2014-20 programming period, the CEF brings together under one programme hitherto discrete EU programmes and initiatives for TEN network infrastructure in the fields of transport (TEN-T), energy (TEN-E) and ICT (eTEN). Eligible projects are selected in line with EU infrastructure priorities known as priority projects and projects of common interest (PCI). The CEF is endowed with a budget for the 2014-20 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) of €19.1 billion, with an additional €11.3 billion earmarked in the Cohesion Fund for CEF TEN transport infrastructure projects in Cohesion Fund-eligible Member States, i.e. those whose Gross National Income (GNI) per inhabitant is less than 90% of the EU average.
Following the publication of the 2014 Multiannual and Annual Work Programmes, 276 transport projects have been recommended by the Commission for co-funding worth €13.1 billion. Past TEN-T infrastructure projects include a stretch of high-speed rail in Spain (total project cost: €77 million; EU contribution: €15.4 million), forming part of the railway axis of south-western Europe between Valladolid and Vitoria, and a Motorway of the Sea between the North Sea ports of Zeebrugge and Esbjerg (total project cost: €23.8 million; EU contribution: €4.8 million), improving the shipping connection between Belgium and Denmark.
The first call for proposals concerning PCIs in energy infrastructure was published in 2014, with an allocated budget of €750 million. Ongoing projects include the ElecLink project (CEF contribution: €1.7 billion, or 50%), which is completing a new electricity interconnector between the UK and France, passing through the Channel Tunnel, to link their national grids.
A call for CEF ICT proposals was published on 17 March 2015 with a deadline of 2 June 2015 for PCIs related to electronic identification and authentication (eID), providing lump sum payments with a maximum budget of €8.7 million. Prior to that, the EUROPEANA call for proposals (closed 23 September 2014) made a maximum of €8.9 million available to finance PCIs related to access to digital resources of European heritage (the ‘EUROPEANA’ core service platform), co-financing up to 100% of costs.
Read the whole ‘Connecting Europe Facility‘ publication in PDF.