The Commission proposes that 60% of the budget contributes to climate objectives

New Europe Online/KG

As part of the next long-term EU budget 2021-2027, the European Commission proposed on June 6 to renew the Connecting Europe Facility, supporting investments in the European infrastructure networks for transport with €30.6 billion and energy with €8.7 billion.

The Commission said the EC is proposing to strengthen the environmental dimension of the Connecting Europe Facility for 2021-2027, with a target of 60% of its budget contributing to climate objectives. This will help reinforce the Energy-Union, fulfil the EU’s commitments under the Paris Agreement, and consolidate Europe’s global leadership in the fight against climate change.

Commission Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič noted that since the Paris Agreement, creating links between sectors is imperative. “The new Connecting Europe Facility will push for even greater synergies between the transport, energy and digital sectors to maximise the impact of the energy transition. Moreover, its increased budget and possible blending with other instruments will help Europe stay ahead of the curve globally on innovative projects such as smart grids and energy storage.”

Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete hailed this proposal, saying it will build the infrastructure needed for the clean energy transition and help achieve the EU’s ambitious 2030 climate and energy targets. “The new programme will also help us complete strategic projects, including the synchronisation of the Baltics with the European electricity grid, which is essential for a real Energy Union,” he said.

Commissioner Violeta Bulc said transport, which is her responsibility, is an area where the EU brings concrete benefits to its people, and today the Commission is proposing an unprecedented budget to improve mobility across Europe. “We want Europeans to travel on the most modern, safe, clean, and connected network in the world. They deserve nothing less,” Bulc said.

According to the Commission, the proposal aims to better integrate the transport, energy, and digital sectors in order to accelerate the decarbonisation and digitalisation of the EU’s economy. Clean mobility solutions – such as electric mobility – require close integration between the transport and energy sectors. Other examples include autonomous mobility, energy storage, and smart grids.

Sustainable transport

The Commission said the Connecting Europe Facility would support smart, sustainable, inclusive, safe and secure mobility, in line with the ‘Europe on the Move’ proposals and the EU’s transport infrastructure policy. It will help with the decarbonisation of transport by prioritising environmentally friendly modes such as rail transport and the development of charging points for alternative fuels, the Commission said, adding that a stronger emphasis on the modernisation of the network is also proposed to make it safer and more secure. As a concrete expression of European solidarity, €11.3 billion of budget funds will be reserved for any of the Member States eligible for the cohesion fund.

For the first time ever, the Connecting Europe Facility will also support civilian-military dual-use transport infrastructure with €6.5 billion, the Commission said, adding that the objective is to adapt Europe’s transport network to bring it in line with military specifications and to improve military mobility in the EU. This will make an important contribution to a fully-fledged Defence Union by 2025, which is a political priority of this Commission. The current proposal delivers on a Joint Communication from November 2017 and the Action Plan from March 2018.

Energy transition

In the energy sector, the new Connecting Europe Facility will enable the creation of a genuine Energy Union and support an energy transition in line with the objectives of the Clean Energy for all Europeans proposals, the European Commission said, adding that this will enable Europe to remain the frontrunner in the clean energy transition, which is a political priority of Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s administration to become the world leader in renewable energy.

A new strand of the budget will nurture Member State cooperation on cross-border renewable generation projects, in order to promote the strategic uptake of market-ready renewable energy technologies, the Commission said, adding that the programme will also continue to back key trans-European network infrastructure networks, while allowing for the further integration of the internal energy market and boosting the interoperability of networks across borders and sectors, while also facilitating decarbonisation and guaranteeing the security of energy supply.

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