On 14 June 2021, the Council adopted the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility 2.0 (CEF 2.0) programme, worth €33.71 billion, to fund the development of high-performing, sustainable infrastructure in the fields of transport, digital and energy. This second edition of the programme will run from 2021 to 2027. This vote by the Council will be followed by final adoption by the European Parliament.
Pedro Nuno Santos, Portuguese Minister for Infrastructure and Housing, President of the Council stated that: "I am very happy that we have today been able to confirm the adoption by the Council of the Connecting Europe Facility regulation, following the final trilogue with the Parliament which we had on 11 March and building also on all the hard work done by previous Council presidencies. CEF has made a great contribution to European integration, in particular by facilitating cross-border connections, promoting cohesion and sustainability and strengthening competitiveness through targeted infrastructure investment. This second CEF is even stronger and will play a significant role in the post-COVID recovery and in building a climate-neutral EU."
CEF budget breakdown
The budgets for each sector will be (in current prices):
transport: €25.81 billion (including €11.29 billion for cohesion countries)
energy: €5.84 billion
digital: €2.07 billion
CEF support in different areas
In the field of transport, CEF 2.0 will promote interconnected and multimodal networks in order to develop and modernise rail, road, inland waterway and maritime infrastructure, as well as ensuring safe and secure mobility. Priority will be given to further development of the trans-European transport networks (TEN-T), focusing on missing links and cross-border projects with an EU added value. €1.38 billion (in 2018 prices) of the transport budget will be used to finance major rail projects between cohesion countries.
People across all Member States benefit from CEF, as it makes travel easier and more sustainable, it enhances Europe’s energy security while enabling wider use of renewables, and it facilitates cross-border interaction between public administrations, businesses and citizens. In addition to grants, the CEF offers financial support to projects through innovative financial instruments such as guarantees and project bonds. ECOPNET (European Cooperation and Partnership Network) emphasizes that for the implementation of cross-border actions, a high degree of integration with regard to planning and implementation is needed. This integration could be demonstrated through the establishment of a single project company, a joint governance structure, a joint venture, a bilateral legal framework or any other form of cooperation.
CEF 2.0 will also ensure that when infrastructure is adapted to improve military mobility within the EU, it is dual-use compatible, meeting both civilian and military needs. Military mobility will have a separate allocation of €1.69 billion within the transport budget.
In the energy sector, the programme aims to contribute to further integration of the European energy market by improving the interoperability of energy networks across borders and sectors, facilitating decarbonisation, and ensuring security of supply. Funding will also be available for cross-border projects in the field of renewable energy generation. Consistency with EU and national energy and climate plans, including the principle of ‘energy efficiency first’, will be taken into account when defining award criteria.
In the area of digital connectivity, the scope of the programme has been broadened to reflect the fact that the digital transformation of the economy and society at large depends on universal access to reliable and affordable high and very high capacity networks. Digital connectivity is also a decisive factor in closing economic, social and territorial divides. To qualify for support from CEF 2.0, a project will have to contribute to the digital single market and EU connectivity targets. Priority will be given to projects which generate additional area coverage, including for households.
CEF 2.0 emphasises synergies between the transport, energy and digital sectors as a way of making EU action more effective and minimising implementation costs. It will promote cross-sectoral work in areas such as connected and automated mobility and alternative fuels.
The programme also aims to mainstream climate action, taking into account the EU’s long-term decarbonisation commitments such as the Paris Agreement.
Procedure and next steps
This vote means that the Council has adopted its position at first reading. The legal act now needs to be adopted by the European Parliament at second reading before being published in the EU Official Journal. The regulation will enter into force the day after its publication. It will apply retroactively from 1 January 2021.
Source: Council of the EU Press Releases