The European Commission (EU) will be investing AUD 1.47 billion to provide better connectivity among European nations. To achieve this, it is currently seeking grants for the first time from the private sector, claiming its new approach will drive innovative financial solutions to fund transport infrastructure projects across Europe.
Under the project ‘Connecting Europe Facility – Transport’, the EU is calling for proposals from the private sector and the European Fund for Strategic Investments to help improve public transport.
President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker says that this project is top priority for the EU.
The Commission has set two deadlines in 2017 for the submission of proposals for transport projects in the EU. The first deadline is 14 July 2017 and the second is 30 November 2017.
The commission says that the funds will only be invested in the projects that are proven to be environmentally-friendly, have high connectivity, is competitive and be situated along the Trans-European Transport Network.
In an official EU statement, the EU commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc says that, “Achieving our vision for seamless, intelligent and sustainable mobility in Europe requires investments that public funds alone cannot provide. That is why we are launching an innovative solution to make the best of our resources, and unlock untapped private investments, with particular focus on Cohesion countries”.
Cohesion countries include Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, where these funds will be invested to make transportation more connected.
The EU Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovic, who is responsible for the Energy Union, says “The mobility of the future must be clean, connected and competitive, and requires new ways of financing. Calls for proposals is an important first step in this regard. We will build on it, this year, in our work to implement the Low-Emission Mobility Strategy for Europe… Apart from improving mobility, it will also provide job opportunities in Cohesion countries”.
The EU says it will give special emphasis on projects removing bottlenecks, supporting cross-border links and accelerating the digitisation of transport, especially in areas with higher potential and market gaps such as in Cohesion countries, sustainable and efficient transport systems, and enhancing inter-modality and inter-operability of the transport network.
This includes new technologies and traffic management systems such as the European Railway Traffic Management System, Intelligent Transport Systems for roads and the Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research Programme.
Commission Vice President responsible for Jobs, Growth, investment and Competitiveness Jyrki Katainen says, “The European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) was designed as a flexible tool to be used in combination with other EU funding sources so as to maximise their impact and help achieve Europe’s broader policy objectives.”
According to Katainen, with this initiative, the EFSI will complement the Connecting Europe Facility to help support the investment and jobs needed to build smart, sustainable transport networks.
The projects and agreements approved for financing under EFSI so far are expected to mobilise over AUD 248 billion in total investments across 28 Member States and will support more than 387,000 SMEs.
According to Mobility and Transport, European Commission, under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), AUD 37.38 billion will be made available from the EU’s 2014-2020 budget to co-fund TEN-T projects in the EU Member States.
Of this amount, AUD 16.76 billion will be available only for projects in member states eligible for the Cohesion Fund.