At a high-level conference in Brussels, business leaders and policy-makers strongly supported the creation of a Connecting Europe Facility as proposed by the European Commission for the European Union’s new financing period 2014-2020. With up to 50 billion euros the Connecting Europe Facility could become a key instrument for targeted infrastructure investment at European level to ensure the smooth functioning of the Single Market and boost sustainable growth, jobs and competitiveness across the European Union.
European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said: “We need an ambitious Connecting Europe Facility to invest in Europe’s future growth and boost job creation. Too often, citizens and businesses are blocked by incomplete, inefficient or simply non-existent infrastructure networks. The ‘Connecting Europe Facility’ provides a European solution to a European problem with its focus on strategic infrastructure, its innovative character and its true European added value. This has been widely recognised at today’s conference and I am confident that this message will also be heard in the capitals of our Member States.”
During the event speakers and participants appreciated the innovative character and important added value that the Connecting Europe Facility would provide. The Connecting Europe Facility would help getting strategic infrastructure off the ground that helps “Europe to compete and to grow” in a globalised world, in line with the Europe 2020 strategy and the recently agreed Compact for Growth.
Without it, participants agreed, many necessary infrastructure investments in transport, energy and internet in the EU would not happen if dealt with purely at national level. This is particularly true in the on-going crisis, which hampers for example bank lending for infrastructure investment. Most participants expect significant private investments thanks to innovative financial instruments linked to the Connecting Europe Facility, like project bonds, and the longer term orientations and planning security it provides.
Many pointed to existing infrastructure projects supported through the EU that clearly demonstrate the benefits and added value of EU-level infrastructure investment like for example the recently inaugurated electricity connection between Ireland and the United Kingdom or compressors enabling reverse gas flows in central and Eastern European Member States.
High-performing, sustainable and efficiently interconnected trans-European networks were deemed essential for the full functioning of the EU’s Single Market and the shift to a more sustainable low-carbon economy.
Some participants also emphasised the complementarity of the EU’s cohesion policy with the Connecting Europe Facility, while emphasising the importance of cohesion policy for enhanced competitiveness of the entire European Union.
Participants agreed that the Connecting Europe Facility is a concrete expression of a new thinking and partnership that will benefit Europeans across all Member States, citizens and businesses alike as better interconnections would make work and travel easier, enhance competitiveness, business opportunities and energy security and make Europe’s economy greener.
Many expressed the wish that the overall strong support for the Connecting Europe Facility coming from this high-level event could mobilise other important stakeholders and decision-makers and positively influence the course of negotiations in the run-up to the extraordinary European Council of 22-23 November 2012 dedicated to the Multiannual Financial Framework. Here to read more.