Thus presented by the European Commission and under the motto “investing in Europe’s growth”, the CEF programme figures in the current multiannual financial framework, with a set of priorities aimed at three key sectors for the European economy: transport, energy and telecommunications. Currently, there are significant links yet to be developed, especially in more recent Member States, creating dividing lines between the centre and the peripheries of the European Union, and limiting the access to their markets, the development of intra-EU trade and the growth of new economic sectors, such as e-commerce. In the absence of cross-border physical interconnections, access to the potential benefits derived from increasing market and regulatory integration within the EU grows ever more difficult. For example, as recent developments have come to prove, energy security remains far from being achieved without the appropriate infrastructure connections and possibilities to reverse gas flows.
In view of this complex context, and in perfect alignment with the EU strategy for growth, Europe 2020, CEF pursues ambitious and sizeable objectives: strengthen the links and trans-European networks, thereby helping to improve the free movement of people, goods, capital and services, and promote greater economic, social and territorial cohesion, based on a competitive social economy and the fight against climate change. That is, contribute to the development of the cornerstones of the internal market while capturing an important source of growth and employment.
CEF is managed by INEA (Executive Agency for Innovation and Networks), the agency in charge of the follow-up of projects supported by the EU and managing a budget of almost 27 billion euros.
This support is complemented by the European Regional Development Fund, the Cohesion Fund and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, while sharing a strong complementarity with Horizon 2020.
Through multi-annual and annual work programs for each sector, the types of grants set to fund the actions concerned have different financing rates that vary according to the area and the type of project. In addition to these more traditional forms of support an innovative and multi-faceted approach for the implementation of the program and its goals is also proposed. Based in different investment sources from the EU (allowing the use of cohesion funds, as in the case of transport), together with an effort to capture private funding, a set of financial instruments managed by the European Investment Bank are offered in order to overcome the difficulties of funding vital infrastructures (such as the Marguerite Fund , the TEN Transport loan guarantee or the Project Bond initiative).
Investments supported under CEF want to further the objective of bridging serious gaps in funding that would not be satisfied if the market or existing public instruments were the only options available.
Given the above, several opportunities lie ahead. The question is whether these will be missed out or seized by the transport, energy and telecommunications sectors.