Connecting Europe Facility (CEF)

EESC opinion: Connecting Europe Facility (CEF)

Key points:

  • The EESC advocates for a stronger budget for the Connecting Europe Facility for after 2020.
  • The EESC recommends that the European Commission and the Member States further encourage synergies at project level between the three sectors, which are currently limited because of the rigidity of the budgetary framework as regards the eligibility of projects and of costs.
  • The EESC urges the co-legislators to maintain the commitment in the previous CEF regulation to spend "the major part" of the energy budget on electricity projects.
  • The EESC recommends that the financial capacity of the CEF programme under the next MFF should be increased and better balanced between the three sectors in order to maintain high credibility and attractiveness for investors.
  • The EESC emphasises that both the Commission and the Member States must remain committed to the CEF’s main transport policy objectives: completion of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) core network by 2030 and the transition towards clean, competitive, innovative and connected mobility, including an EU backbone of alternative fuels charging infrastructure by 2025. Multimodal and cross-border connections are extremely important in this regard. The EESC strongly supports the proposal to include in the CEF 2021-2027 cross-border cooperation on renewable energy generation. The EESC suggests that the overall vision of the actions on renewables in the CEF should be to create a Europe-wide renewable electricity network allowing for a more effective integration of renewable energy technologies and to better reflect the available potential of technologies across the continent. The EESC recommends that the opportunities that arise from the digitalisation of energy grids and networks and the creation of smart grids to integrate renewables be fully seized and recommend that the Commission looks into how synergies between the Digital and Energy sectors of the CEF can be exploited on this point.
  • The EESC also believes that consideration should be given to better communication methods regarding the achievements of the CEF. A Communication Budget can be a useful tool in this regard. An enhanced predictability is also to be taken into consideration.
  • The EESC proposes improvements to the CEF evaluation methodology. A real quantitative / qualitative assessment should be performed at the end of the 2014-2020 period for the completed projects and those at an advanced level of construction. The EESC calls for a review, inter alia, of the progress of TEN-T development, as well the changes in passenger and freight traffic flows. Also for a socio-economic cost - benefit analysis of TEN-T projects that takes into account the relevant social, economic, climate-related and environmental benefits and costs.
  • The EESC supports the development of dual-use civilian-defence infrastructure under the CEF framework and recommends an open and pro-active approach in the new geopolitical international context.