Trans-European Networks in the areas of transport, energy and telecommunications have the potential to reduce growing inequalities between regions in the EU, and also to lay the foundations of a socially and environmentally sustainable society. This is why Socialists and Democrats today welcomed the approval of a deal between the EU Council and the Parliament on the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) for the next seven-year financial framework 2021-2027.
The CEF is a crucial financial instrument to promote targeted infrastructure investment at European level. During the negotiations with the Council, S&Ds have fought to make sure that CEF investments fill the missing links in Europe's transport, energy and digital backbone so that it is real added value in the transition to a decarbonised economy that benefits all. Europe’s challenges - poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, just transition, prosperity, and peace and justice - are interconnected, and so should all the EU policies be to tackle them.
Inés Ayala MEP, S&D spokesperson on transport on the CEF, said:
"The Connecting Europe Facility makes mobility greener, easier, safer and more accessible to all users and we want it to be more user-friendly and innovative by promoting sustainable modes of transport such as railways, inland waterways and 'motorways of the sea'.
“We have pushed for more targeted financing, focusing on priority areas: corridors and projects with real European added value for citizens, and more sustainable freight, including missing links and cross-border transport projects within the EU and also with third countries.
“Our goal is to strengthen socio-economic, territorial cohesion and sustainable connectivity while ensuring more environmental sustainability. Projects related to sustainable modes of transport (railway interoperability and inland waterways) will be co-financed up to 50%, and the same rate applies to cross-border projects. Regarding outermost regions, who need special support from the EU to build the geographical gap, got a 70% co-financing rate for their projects.”
Miapetra Kumpula-Natri MEP, S&D spokesperson on the energy and digital aspects of the CEF, said:
“In terms of energy, we managed to ensure more ambitious financing for projects concerning renewable energy, to secure a revision of the Trans-European Networks (TEN-E) regulation in time for the next Multiannual Financial Framework, and to include energy efficiency first principle in the legislation. On budget for cross-border projects of renewable energy there will be a financial envelope out of which 15%, subject to market uptake, is for cross-border projects in the field of renewable energy. If the 15% threshold is reached, the European Commission shall increase this amount up to 20%, subject to market uptake. So this is a very important step forward to achieve clean and cheap energy for Europeans.
“There will also be improvements for digital networks. The EU will further support fast mobile connections for both Europe's transportation networks and important social hubs such as schools, universities and hospitals. One of the new inequalities is access to proper internet connection, so we must make sure that all citizens, regardless of where they live, can have affordable access to fast connections.”