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Connecting Europe Facility: Commission adopts plan for €50 billion boost to European networks

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The European Commission tabled on 19 October a plan which will fund €50 billion worth of investment to improve Europe's transport, energy and digital networks. Targeted investments in key infrastructures will help to create jobs and boost Europe's competitiveness at a time when Europe needs this most. The "Connecting Europe Facility" will finance projects which fill the missing links in Europe's energy, transport and digital backbone. It will also make Europe's economy greener by promoting cleaner transport modes, high speed broadband connections and facilitating the use of renewable energy in line with the Europe 2020 Strategy. In addition the funding for energy networks will further integrate the internal energy market, reduce the EU's energy dependency and bolster the security of supply. To assist with the financing of the Connecting Europe Facility, the Commission has also adopted the terms for the Europe 2020 Project Bond Initiative which will be one of a number of risk-sharing instruments upon which the facility may draw in order to attract private finance in projects. The pilot phase will start already next year.

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Background

Connecting Europe: The new EU core transport network

EU core network map

The Commission adopted on 19 October a proposal to transform the existing patchwork of European roads, railways, airports and canals into a unified transport network (TEN-T). The new core network will remove bottlenecks, upgrade infrastructure and streamline cross border transport operations for passengers and businesses throughout the EU. It will improve connections between different modes of transport and contribute to the EU's climate change objectives.

European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, said: "Transport is fundamental to an efficient EU economy, but vital connections are currently missing. Europe's railways have to use 7 different gauge sizes and only 20 of our major airports and 35 of our major ports are directly connected to the rail network. Without good connections Europe will not grow or prosper."

The new policy follows a two-year consultation process and establishes a core transport network to be established by 2030 to act as the backbone for transportation within the Single Market. The financing proposals published today (for the period 2014–2020) also tightly focus EU transport funding on this core transport network, filling in cross-border missing links, removing bottlenecks and making the network smarter.

The new core TEN-T network will be supported by a comprehensive network of routes, feeding into the core network at regional and national level. This will largely be financed by Member States, with some EU transport and regional funding possibilities, including with new innovative financing instruments. The aim is to ensure that progressively, and by 2050, the great majority of Europe's citizens and businesses will be no more than 30 minutes' travel time from this comprehensive network.

Taken as a whole, the new transport network will deliver:

  • safer and less congested travel
  • as well as smoother and quicker journeys.

The 31.7 billion euros allocated to transport under the Connecting Europe Facility of the MFF (Multi-Annual Financial Framework) will effectively act as "seed capital" to stimulate further investment by Member States to complete difficult cross-border connections and links which might not otherwise get built. Every 1 million euros spent at European level will generate 5 million from Member State governments and 20 million from the private sector.

Background:

The new policy sets out a much smaller and more tightly defined transport network for Europe. Its aim is to focus spending on a smaller number of projects where real EU added value can be realised. Member States will also face more rigorous requirements in terms of common specifications which will work cross-border, and legal obligations actually to complete the project.

The TEN-T network consists of two layers: a core network to be completed by 2030 and a comprehensive network feeding into this, to be completed by 2050. The comprehensive network, will ensure full coverage of the EU and accessibility of all regions. The core network will prioritize the most important links and nodes of the TEN-T, to be fully functional until 2030. Both layers include all transport modes: road, rail, air, inland waterways and maritime transport, as well as intermodal platforms.

The TEN-T guidelines set common requirements for the TEN-T infrastructure – with tougher requirements for the core network. This will ensure fluent transport operations throughout the network. The policy also fosters the implementation of traffic management systems which will allow optimising the use of infrastructure and by increasing efficiency, to reduce CO2 emissions.

The implementation of the core network will be facilitated using a corridor approach. Ten corridors will provide the basis for the co-ordinated development of infrastructure within the core network. Covering at least 3 modes, 3 Member States and 2 cross-border sections, these corridors will bring together the Member States concerned, as well as the relevant stakeholders, for example infrastructure managers and users. European co-ordinators will chair "corridor platforms" that will bring together all the stakeholders – these will be a major instrument to guarantee co-ordination, co-operation and transparency.

See http://ec.europa.eu/transport/index_en.htm for core network maps, national maps, projects lists.

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