Third countries can marginally participate in the scheme for smart grids, gas and cross-border carbon dioxide networks and transmission projects for renewables. The European Union is about to complete the spending allocated for the outgoing seven-year budget for energy union infrastructure.
The Connecting Europe Facility or CEF is funding a round of projects with major cross-border benefits, the European Commission has said in a public call open until May 27. The executive body stressed it is prioritizing the European Green Deal and that the EUR 980 million package is intended for the transition to a climate-neutral economy in the energy union segment, namely its infrastructure.
Only the so-called projects of common interest (PCIs) qualify for the grants and the condition is that they have a significant impact on at least two countries within the 27-member bloc. CEF, which covers infrastructure, will support proposals for co-financing that lead to stronger competitiveness and energy security as well as to sustainable development, the statement reveals.
Smart grids, emissions, renewables
The EU expressed willingness to back smart grids, gas and cross-border carbon dioxide networks, interoperability of electricity and gas networks across borders and the integration of renewables with transmission.
Applicants need to focus their studies or construction ambitions on the added value toward decarbonization, the regulators said. The criteria include the state of maturity, benefits in terms of security of supply, solidarity or innovation, the extent of public support needed to remove financing bottlenecks as well as the priority and urgency of the proposed action, they added.
Cybersecurity alongside decarbonization
Besides the reduction of CO2 emissions, the commissioners underscored they are promoting safe, efficient and secure network operation including cybersecurity. CEF-Energy has a total budget of EUR 4.9 billion for trans-European energy infrastructure for the period from 2014 through 2020 and it has allocated EUR 3.9 billion so far. The PCI list is revised every two years.
CEF should get EUR 42.3 billion in the next seven-year budget, according to the official pledge. The energy component is looking at EUR 8.7 billion including a new window for cross-border projects in the field of renewable energy.
Framework for investments
Other priorities for the grants and program support actions are environmental protection and facilitating more private investment, the statement says.
One or more member states can apply for funds for green energy infrastructure or it can be an international organization on their behalf, the documentation showed. Joint or public or private projects are also eligible. So are entities that do not have legal personality under the applicable national law, provided that their representatives have the capacity to undertake legal obligations on their behalf and offer guarantee for the protection of the EU’s financial interests equivalent to that offered by legal persons, the European Commission said.
Importantly, third countries and entities established in third countries can participate in actions contributing to the projects of common interest. But they can’t receive funding except where it is indispensable to achieve the objectives of a given project of common interest.