The European Commission has published a new call for proposals in the framework of the Connecting Europe Facility. The CEF is a European funding instrument which aims to support targeted infrastructure investments across Europe – in the field of energy, this funding is focused on addressing investment gaps with the objective of ensuring that infrastructure is sufficient for demand, a secure supply is maintained and the transition to renewable energy is supported.
In the context of the current call for proposals – published on 18th March – a budget of € 200 million is being made available for projects which eliminate bottlenecks preventing the free flow of energy across the EU.
In order to be eligible for CEF funding, a project must appear on the list of Projects of Common Interest, the most recent version of which was published in November and contains 195 energy infrastructure projects identified as particularly important for the completion of the EU’s internal energy market as well as to boost competition and contribute to meeting the Union’s energy and climate goals. Projects must benefit at least two Member States.
CEF grants may support both studies and construction works; however, proposals for works may only be accepted if the project is not commercially viable but will nevertheless deliver “significant benefits” in a macro-regional context.
According to Miguel Arias Cañete, EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, “With this call for proposals we are actively investing EU money where it is most needed and where it will bring most gains. With the necessary investments, EU consumers will be able to enjoy the benefits of a modern, reliable and sustainable EU-wide energy system. A fully functioning energy market with well-connected energy networks is an essential building block for the Energy Union.”
The CEF is a key element in reducing the EU’s dependence on third countries for energy supplies. Indeed, following the identification of specific problem areas, the EU has been able to commit to supporting projects which will massively contribute to ending the energy isolation of certain Member States. One such example is a new Polish-Lithuanian gas pipeline which will lead to a reduction in the Baltic States’ dependency on Russian gas and, in the words of Commission President Jean- Claude Juncker, result in “European infrastructure that will unite us, instead of dividing us.”
The deadline for proposals is 28th April and an announcement on the projects selected is expected by the end of July. A second call, with a much more significant budget of € 600 million, will be published later on in the year.