José Manuel Barroso, President of the EC, Siim Kallas, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Transport, Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Digital Agenda, Günther Oettinger, Member of the EC in charge of Energy, Johannes Hahn, Member of the EC in charge of Regional Policy, and Jean-Claude Thébault, Director-General of the Bureau of European Policy Advisers (BEPA), participated in the "Connecting Europe: a conference on the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF)" event.
In the opening session José Manuel Barroso highlighted that the CEF was about far more than the specific projects; it was a European solution to a European challenge. He strongly emphasised its added value and contribution to European growth, jobs and competiveness. For him, the CEF was one of the most prominent features for growth in the proposed Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020.
The President added that to support growth, to help generate jobs everywhere in Europe, the citizens needed open access to ideas, to markets, to the resources necessary to produce. He explained that all too often they were hindered because the infrastructure networks across Europe were incomplete, inefficient or simply non-existent. The CEF could change it by filling the missing links and removing bottlenecks across Europe thanks to the transnational, in some cases even a pan-European dimension and approach. Many cross-border projects would not have happened if the benefits were evaluated only at a purely national level.
The conference concluded with overall strong support by business leaders and policy-makers for an ambitious CEF, able to trigger significant additional investment for Europe's strategic infrastructure.