Today the Commission is further delivering on its top priority of creating jobs and boosting growth in Europe, by unveiling a record €13.1 billion investment plan in 276 transport projects, selected under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). This investment will unlock additional public and private co-financing for a combined amount of €28.8 billion. Along with the future European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the CEF will play a major role in bridging the investment gap in Europe, which is one of the Commission's top priorities. Beyond transport, it will benefit the European economy as a whole by creating more favourable conditions for growth and jobs.
EU Commissioner for Transport Violeta said, "Today, I am very pleased to propose the largest investment plan ever made by the EU in the transport area. The projects we selected will serve citizens and businesses alike, by upgrading infrastructure and removing existing bottlenecks. They will also promote sustainable and innovative mobility solutions. This unprecedented investment represents a major contribution to the Commission’s agenda of growth and job creations. Implementing the trans-European transport network could create up to 10 million jobs and increase Europe’s GDP by 1.8% by 2030”.
Selected projects are primarily located in the core trans-European transport network. Among the beneficiaries are flagship initiatives such as Rail Baltica, the Brenner Base Tunnel, the Seine-Escaut waterway, the Caland Bridge and the Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link. Smaller-scale initiatives include cross-border projects between Groningen and Bremen, the Iron Rhine rail line, LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) deployment plans or projects enhancing the navigability of the Danube River.
Launched in September 2014, the CEF generated an unprecedented interest. The Commission received 700 applications totalling €36 billion of requested funding, three times more than the available envelope. This allowed the Commission to select the projects with the highest European added value, while guaranteeing a balanced distribution geographically and between the transport modes. In particular, nearly €4.8 billion have been earmarked for Member States eligible for Cohesion Funds. Contribution to other Commission priority actions, such as the Energy Union or the Digital Single Market, was also evaluated during the selection process.
The EU's financial contribution is made in the form of grants, the co-financing rate of which is between 20% and 85% of a given project, depending on its type.
The proposed funding decision must now be formally adopted by the Connecting Europe Facility Committee, which will meet on 10 July 2015. The individual grant agreements will then be prepared by the (INEA) and signed with the project beneficiaries in the second half of 2015.
Under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), €24.05 billion will be made available from the EU’s 2014-2020 budget to co-fund projects in the EU Member States. Of this amount, €11.305 billion will be available only for projects in Member States eligible for the Cohesion Fund. specify the set of priorities and the total amount of financial support to be committed for each of these priorities in a given year. 2014 has been the first programming year under the CEF.