Connecting Europe Facility – Results of the 2016 Transport calls for proposals
152 projects, requesting a total of €2.7 billion in EU funding, were selected for funding.
What are the types of projects which receive funding?
The 2016 Connecting Europa Facility (CEF) Transport calls for proposals have three funding objectives:
-Removing bottlenecks and bridging missing links, enhancing rail interoperability, and, in particular, improving cross-border sections that invite applicants from all Member States
-Ensuring sustainable and efficient transport systems in the long run, with a view to preparing for expected future transport flows, as well as enabling all modes of transport to be decarbonised through transition to innovative low-carbon and energy-efficient transport technologies, while optimising safety
-Optimising the integration and interconnection of transport modes and enhancing the interoperability of transport services, while ensuring the accessibility of transport infrastructures
Funding is awarded to carry out works supporting these three objectives or studies.
349 applicants from all Member States and several neighbouring countries submitted proposals for a total of nearly €7.5 billion of co-funding by the call deadline on 7 February 2017. The applicants were mostly Member States and public or private undertakings.
All Member States could apply for funding under the general calls, whereas only the 15 Member States eligible for funding from the EU's Cohesion Fund could apply for funding under the Cohesion call.
The CEF call has been over-subscribed almost 4 times, and the Cohesion envelope 6.5 times the amount of funds indicatively available.
Which Member States are eligible for funding from the EU's Cohesion Fund?
The eligible Member States are: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
Could third countries participate?
Applicants from neighbouring countries could participate in the calls under certain conditions and may only receive financial assistance if it is necessary to the achievement of the objectives of a given project of common interest. Further information is available on the call's FAQ page. One project in Serbia for navigation on Rhine-Danube corridor will receive financing within this call.
How much funding was available under the 2016 CEF Transport calls for proposals?
€1.9 billion was available to fund one or several call objectives. An additional sum of €639 million from unspent funds of several ongoing actions was made available to support projects in Member States eligible for funding from the EU's Cohesion Fund.
How is the EU funding for transport infrastructure awarded?
CEF Transport funding is awarded via competitive calls for proposals mainly through grants. The 2016 CEF Transport calls for proposals were published by the European Commission's Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) on 13 October 2016 and remained open until 7 February 2017.
The selection was based on a standard evaluation process in two phases:
-External assessment by independent experts basing their evaluation on pre-identified award criteria to ensure transparency and equal treatment of all eligible proposals
-Internal selection by the Commission service in charge of Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE), which undertook a qualitative analysis of the overall contribution of projects for the development of EU transport policy
Following these two steps, 152 projects, requesting a total of €2.7 billion in EU funding, were retained. The European Commission's Innovation and Networks Executive Agency will prepare and sign individual grant agreements with project beneficiaries by autumn 2017.
What projects will get CEF funding under the 2016 calls for proposals?
Projects selected for funding are those with the highest EU added-value and primarily located on the core trans-European transport network. In order to ensure the most effective use of limited EU resources, these grants will be reserved for projects which are difficult to implement due to their cross-border nature, or due to a very long return on investment.
Examples of projects to be financed under the general envelope include:
-Deployment of Air Traffic Management solutions for faster, safer and more efficient travel in EU Member States (€274.8 million CEF co-funding)
-Construction of the second tunnel tube for the Karawanken road tunnel on the Austria-Slovenia cross-border section to improve road traffic flow, as well as increase capacity and road safety (€17.7 million CEF co-funding)
-Deployment of 158 high-speed electric charging points in Sweden, Denmark, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Italy to make electric travel across borders possible (€10.2 million CEF co-funding)
The calls that were open for projects in Member States eligible for funding from the EU's Cohesion Fund will support the flagship infrastructure projects on the core Trans-European transport network, in particular those which address low carbon modes of transport such as railways, inland waterways and ports.
Examples of projects financed include:
-Upgrade of the Białystok-Ełk section of the E75 railway line in Poland, including trackside ERTMS deployment, to shorten the travel time and increase the efficiency and safety of rail transport (€338 million CEF co-funding)
-Third stage of the Rail Baltica project that will adapt the rail link between the Baltic States to the EU gauge (€110.5 million CEF co-funding)
-Implementation of harmonised and synchronised Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) applications on the high level road network in the Central European region for improved cross-border traffic (€4.2 million CEF co-funding)
-Modernisation and development of the rail infrastructure necessary for transport operations at the Rijeka Port - (€28.6 million CEF co-funding)
How does the co-financing work? How much money comes from Member States and how much from the EU?
Transport infrastructure requires significant investment - and an important share will always come from Member States and other public and private investors. The EU's role in terms of investment and co-ordination is to add value by removing difficult bottlenecks and building missing links and connections, and to support the creation of a real European transport network.
The normal CEF co-financing rates for TEN-T projects are:
-For the cohesion envelope: up to 85% for all projects
-For the general envelope:
o Up to 50% for studies
o Up to 10% for works on cross-border road sections
o Up to 20% for works (for example exploratory works for a major tunnel)
o Up to 50% for certain traffic management projects, like for ERTMS, to support Member States making the transition to higher standards
The call texts do not define the minimum amount of requested funding. The European Commission however strongly encourages applicants to only submit projects requesting an EU contribution for the eligible costs above €500,000 for studies and €1,000,000 for works. Applications below these thresholds are checked on a case-by-case basis.
How will the projects be managed?
The CEF Programme is managed centrally by the European Commission, which sets the political priorities and is responsible for the selection of projects through competitive calls for proposals.
The Commission is assisted by INEA for the evaluation and selection of projects and for the overall technical and financial monitoring of project implementation.
Beneficiaries in the Member States manage the projects, and the Member States remain responsible for monitoring the implementation of the projects.
What are the perspectives for further financing?
A CEF Blending call for €1bn EU funds is ongoing with two milestones for applications: 14 July and Nov. 2017. This allows financing projects across CEF objectives, in combination with EFSI funds whenever possible, or, for projects removing bottlenecks or with cross-border benefits, also with EIB, National Promotional Banks or private sector.
About 95% of the CEF Transport budget 2014-2020 will be committed, once the CEF Blending call amount of € 1 billion will be allocated (expected by end 2017). Thus, to support investments in the key priority area (promoting connectivity, efficiency, decarbonisation and digitalisation of transport) in the second half of the MFF 2014-2020, efforts to find additional sources of funds have to be made, including the proposed increase of ceilings for CEF-Transport by €300 million (under MFF Mid-Term Review), use of blending, ESI funds, EFSI and leverage of private sources whenever possible.
In addition, the European Structural Investment funds (ESI funds) Operational Programmes of Members States foresee funding of about EUR 70 billion for Transport investments during 2014-2020.