Post-2020 Connecting Europe Facility must contribute to sustainable accessibility of territories

By Patrick Anvroin, CPMR Director, Transport 


2018 is a crucial year for the future of European transport policy, as the European Commission will present its legislative and financial framework proposals for the post-2020 programming period.

The financing of this policy is provided by the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). The revision of this budget and the regulation will be discussed and negotiated in the coming year.

The CEF budget is not comparable in volume to ‘traditional’ policies such as the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) or the Cohesion Policy, as it represents only about 3% of the combined budgets of these two policies. But it can enable the EU to support infrastructure projects that bring European added value, particularly by financing a Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T).

Improving accessibility must become a priority of European transport policy. The revision of the CEF offers a unique opportunity to return legitimacy to the TEN-T. As the European Commission states in its 2011 Transport White Paper, “restricting mobility is not an option”.

Representing the peripheral and maritime regions, the CPMR defends the right to mobility of people and goods, regardless of their geographical location. We regularly alert the EU institutions to the need to give priority to the least accessible territories.

In fact, we recently wrote to the European Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc, to share the priorities of our Regions on transport.

The right to mobility of persons and goods, regardless of their geographical location, is a legal constraint included in the TEN-T regulation. However, since 2014 the CEF’s budget has been hyper-concentrated on nine priority corridors with land dominance. This approach marginalises the peripheries, particularly the islands and the outermost regions.

Since March 2017, the CPMR has proposed a set of specific proposals for the revision of the CEF Regulation for the post-2020 period, which would make it possible to adapt the intervention criteria to specific situations.

Beyond this necessary geographical rebalancing of support, the CPMR is also calling for an improvement in the governance of the implementation mechanism.

For example, the current system, centralised and competitive via calls for projects, leaves regional authorities with the possibility of intervention only through their national authorities, contravening the principle of subsidiarity.

The CPMR supports the European Commission’s initiatives to reduce the climate impact of the transport sector, which continues to experience growth in greenhouse gas emissions. This is neither acceptable nor compatible with the commitments of the COP21 Paris Summit. Maritime regions are the first to be affected by global warming.

We support the Commission’s action on international maritime transport (IMO) and aviation (ICAO) bodies, leading to binding rules on a global scale. We also welcome the level of priority given to innovation, digitalisation and multimodality, as this contributes to greater efficiency in transport and logistics, and thus to a reduction in emissions. These priorities will have to be reflected in the future regulation of the CEF.

Beyond the Motorways of the Sea, there remains a need to define a European short sea shipping policy in the service of modal shift. The modal shift to short and medium distance shipping is to be encouraged as it contributes to the reduction of emissions.

The European Commission regards the Motorways of the Sea (MoS) as “the maritime part of the TEN-T”, as defined by Article 21 of the Regulation. The CPMR has long called for an evolution of this article to make it more accessible to the ports of the global network, and thus to the peripheries and the islands.

We now repeat this call for the article’s development, whether it involves the evolution of the implementation via a delegated act from the Commission or an improvement of this article in the context of the TEN-T Regulation’s revision.

The EU must go further than the Motorways of the Sea. It need to encourage the modal shift of goods from the road to the sea. It must support the launch of maritime services that offer a sustainable alternative to road transport on short and medium distances, between two Member States, including the circumvention of urban conurbations or mountains.

Surprisingly, the 2011 White Paper does not encourage maritime transport as an alternative to the road mode for distances of less than 350 km. It should t be updated on this point.

The TEN-T and CEF regulations must now allow these financial incentives, in compliance with European competition rules. The CPMR once again invites the Commission to accelerate – and solidify – its reflection on such a new tool based on support for transport demand.

 If the Commisson’s revised CEF regulation is going to respect the principles of territorial and modal balance, and the need to contribute to climate action and good governance, then the CEF budget must at least be maintained at its current level after 2020.