On 7 June 2012 the Council, meeting in Luxembourg, agreed on the creation of a "Connecting Europe Facility" (CEF) – the future funding instrument for Europe's key infrastructures in the energy, telecommunications and transport. The ministers reached a compromise on the last outstanding question – whether the CEF should provide for more possibilities of funding road development projects.
The draft regulation on CEF, worth €50 billion of investment, aims to help create high-performing, environmentally sustainable and interconnected networks across Europe.
It broadly defines what transport, telecommunications, and energy infrastructure projects will be eligible to receive financing from the EU funds in 2014–2020. It also sets out the co-funding rates for the different types of projects as well as the methods and procedures to follow.
The agreement does not include the budget for the CEF and other financial provisions. The actual amounts will depend on the result of the ongoing negotiations on the EU's next multiannual financial framework for the period 2014-2020. For the draft regulation to be adopted, the European Parliament has to give its approval.
"Europe is dependent on good infrastructure across national borders. With the Connecting Europe Facility, which the Council agreed upon today, we have established the framework for EU funds to be used for realising cross-border infrastructure projects in Europe. Targeted EU support for infrastructure, which improves connections between member states, underpins the freedom of movement that is so fundamental for the EU", said the Danish Minister for Transport Henrik Dam Kristensen.
Agreement on funding for road projects
The transport section of the CEF prioritizes financing railroad and inland waterway projects in the EU, while providing limited funding possibilities for road projects. Several member states have asked to increase these possibilities.
As a compromise, ministers agreed to include financing of road projects through grants in member states with an isolated railway network without long-distance rail freight transport. Apart from road financing, they increased the co-financing rate for the Motorways of the Seas and made some changes to the list of core network corridors.
Co-funding rates under CEF proposal
Energy sector: the maximum co-funding rate is up to 50% of the eligible costs, and can be increased to up to 75% in specific cases.
Transport sector: from 20% to 50% of eligible costs.
Telecommunications sector: broadband networks can receive funding rates of up to 50%, generic services and cross-cutting priorities – up to 75%, while projects linked to "Europeana" – the digital platform for the European cultural heritage – can receive funding of up to 100%.
To be eligible for receiving EU funds, the projects must comply not only with the conditions laid down in the CEF regulation, but also with the guidelines for the development of the trans-European networks. These will be adopted separately for each of the three sectors.
Press release (pdf)
Press conference (video)