Friday, July 3, 2015

Freight by Water and Intermodal Road and Rail Cargo will Benefit from EC Cash

Huge Injection of Money for Transport Infrastructure Announced
Shipping News Feature

EUROPE – The European Commission has unveiled a record €13.1 billion investment plan to fund 276 transport projects, selected under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), in an effort to boost jobs and growth in Europe. The investment will see Europe improve a vast number of both freight and passenger activities and facilities by addressing the problems within the continent’s infrastructure and improving the inland waterways, ports, and intermodal rail connections. This investment will unlock additional public and private co-financing for a combined amount of €28.8 billion. EU Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said:

"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 calls for proposals generated an unprecedented interest, with the Commission receiving around 700 applications totalling €36 billion in funding requested. From this position the Commission selected the projects which it saw as having the highest European added value, while guaranteeing a balanced distribution both geographically and between the transport modes. In particular, nearly €4.8 billion has 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 Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (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 TEN-T 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. Annual and multi-annual work programmes 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.