The Council today adopted its position (partial general approach) on a proposal to ensure that the EU’s flagship programme Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) will continue to fund key projects in the areas of transport, digital and energy beyond 2020.
The general approach is ‘partial’ as it excludes financial and horizontal issues. These are currently being discussed as part of the negotiations on the next multiannual financial framework (MFF) covering the period 2021 to 2027.
The Connecting Europe Facility has proven its worth. But we want to ensure that the programme will continue to develop, and be better targeted. The Facility is there to help member states on the path of decarbonisation, digital transformation and building smoother mobility.
Norbert Hofer, Minister for Transport, Innovation and Technology of Austria, President of the Council
The draft regulation lays down the objectives of the programme, its budget for the period 2021-2027, the forms of EU funding and the rules for providing the funding.
The aim of the CEF proposal is to develop, modernise and complete the trans-European networks in the fields of transport, energy and digital. It will accelerate investment in these networks and leverage funding from both the public and private sectors.
In the field of transport, the CEF will promote safe mobility and encourage smart infrastructure. In the area of trans-European Transport networks (TEN-T), priority will be given to cross-border links and missing links. There is also a portion of the funds dedicated to the development of civilian-military dual-use transport infrastructure with a view to improving military mobility within the Union.
In the energy sector, the aim of the programme is to contribute to further integration of the European energy market, improving the interoperability of energy networks across borders and sectors, facilitating decarbonisation, and ensuring security of supply. Funding will also be available for cross-border projects in the field of renewable energy.
In the area of digital connectivity, the scope of the programme is broadened to reflect the fact that the digital transformation of the economy and society at large depends on universal access to reliable and affordable high and very high capacity networks. Digital connectivity is also considered to be a decisive factor in closing economic, social and territorial divides. While most of the investment needed to build and upgrade the necessary infrastructure must come from the private sector, the projects supported by CEF are intended to address areas where development is not viable on a market basis or where the market has failed.
The programme emphasises synergies between the transport, energy and digital sectors, to enhance the effectiveness of EU action and optimise implementing costs. To achieve this, it provides for the adoption of cross-sectoral work programmes that would allow intervention in areas such as connected and automated mobility or alternative fuels.
The proposal also aims to mainstream climate action, taking into account the EU’s long-term decarbonisation commitments such as the Paris Agreement.
The partial general approach approved today is the Council’s mandate to start negotiations with the European Parliament.
The full text of the Council partial general approach will be available here.