Connecting energy markets and regions

Linking the energy infrastructure of EU countries.

EU projects of common interest can benefit from accelerated permitting procedures and funding.

Representatives of EU countries and the Commission meet to discuss regional infrastructure development.

Modernising and connecting energy infrastructure will help ensure secure, affordable and clean energy for all.

The forum is organised by the European Commission and takes place annually in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Trans-European Networks for Energy

Modern energy infrastructure is crucial for the EU to integrate its energy market and to meet its energy and climate goals. To upgrade Europe's infrastructure, the European Commission has estimated that around €200 billion is needed during the current decade (until 2030) for transmission grids and gas pipelines. However, not all investments are commercially viable, and the market alone is likely to only provide half of the necessary investment. Therefore the EU is helping to build and fund new energy infrastructure projects all over Europe, as part of its Trans-European Networks for energy (TEN-E) strategy. The implementation of the TEN-E strategy is expected to bring a €600 billion increase in socio-economic benefits in terms of avoided generation costs, more competitive wholesale prices and especially growth and jobs.

In November 2017, the Commission published a Communication on strengthening Europe's energy networks that reiterates the importance of building a well interconnected and integrated trans-European energy grid, accompanied by the 3rd Union list of Projects of Common Interest in energy and a factsheet on questions and answers on these projects of common interest (PCIs).

Projects of common interest

Every two years, the EU draws up a list of Projects of Common Interest (PCIs). The chosen projects can take advantage of a number of benefits including faster permitting procedures and the right to apply for funding from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) – the EU's €30 billion fund for boosting energy, transport, and digital infrastructure between 2014 and 2020.

On 6 June 2018 the European Commission proposed to renew the Connecting Europe Facility for 2021-2027 with a budget of €42.3 billion to support investments in the infrastructure networks for energy (€8.7 billion), transport (€30.6 billion) and digital (€3 billion). This represents a 47% increase compared to the previous period 2014-2020.

Projects are selected which make a significant contribution to the implementation of the strategic energy infrastructure priority corridors and areas, as identified in the TEN-E strategy. These are areas that require urgent infrastructure development in order to connect EU countries currently isolated from European energy markets, strengthen existing cross-border interconnections, and integrate renewable energy.

High Level Groups and Expert Groups

High Level Groups are forums that focus on energy issues in European regions that have been identified as being of high priority. Organised by the European Commission, they bring together representatives from EU countries in the region, transmission system operators, regulators, and in some cases other stakeholders.

Expert Groups provide advice to the Commission in areas of energy policy. They are composed of experts from the public and private sectors and meet to discuss specific issues and give policy recommendations.

The Expert Group on electricity interconnection targets meets regularly to discuss issues related to cross-border electricity interconnections.

Public acceptance of infrastructure projects

Building new power grids and other infrastructure projects allows gas and electricity to flow freely within and between EU countries to where they are most needed. However, the construction of these projects affects the environment and the daily lives of people who live nearby. The Commission has created tools such as the Grid Infrastructure Communication Toolkit (updated 2018) to help developers and planners engage with local people and address their concerns.

Energy Infrastructure Forum

The European Commission organises the annual Energy Infrastructure Forum, where key issues related to infrastructure and EU energy policy are discussed. The participants include representatives of the Commission and other European institutions, EU countries, energy industry bodies, and NGOs.