Fabian Demicoli

Vince Farrugia highlights importance of the Commission Proposal on a “Connecting Europe Facility”

 Today Vincent Farrugia GRTU DG and Maltese business owners representative participated actively in the discussion at the EESC Transport, Energy, Infrastructure and Information Society (TEN) on the Commission's Communication on establishing the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) (COM(2011) 665). The CEF proposal is in the form of a package of five proposals by the Commission geared at investments in key infrastructures that will help to create jobs and boost Europe's competitiveness at a time when Europe needs this most. The "Connecting Europe Facility" will finance projects which fill the missing links in Europe's energy, transport and digital backbone. It will also make Europe's economy greener by promoting cleaner transport modes, high speed broadband connections and facilitating the use of renewable energy in line with the Europe 2020 Strategy. In addition the funding for energy networks will further integrate the internal energy market, reduce the EU's energy dependency and bolster the security of supply.

The Connecting Europe Facility will invest €31.7 billion to upgrade Europe's transport infrastructure, build missing links and remove bottlenecks. This includes €10 billion ring fenced in the Cohesion Fund for transport projects in the cohesion countries, with the remaining 21.7 billion available for all Member States for investing in transport infrastructure. The idea is to improve links between different parts of the EU, to make it easier for different countries to exchange goods and people with each other. By focussing on transport modes that are less polluting, the Connecting Europe Facility will push our transport system to become more sustainable. It will also give consumers more choice about how they want to travel. The Commission proposed to create corridors to cover the most important cross-border projects. It has estimated that by 2020, €500 billion will be needed to realise a real European network, including €250 billion for removing bottlenecks and completing missing links in the core network.

Mr Farrugia emphasised the role that private financing would be performing and spoke in detail about the Project Bonds scheme that the Commission is working on in conjunction with the European investment Bank. He further emphasised that besides the clear need and advantage for further integration of Europe as a result of the massive investment in infrastructure in all transport modes and in the environment and in energy the whole project is a tremendous boost for the revival of sustained economic growth in Europe. "Development and growth is the way forward not austerity" insisted Vince Farrugia. He demanded further clarification as to how the Commission and Council intend to speed up this tremendous commitment and congratulated the Commission on the production of this excellent package of proposals which are both innovative and extensive and involve deep discussions and consultations with stakeholders.

Mr Farrugia appealed for the incorporation of an additional Mediterranean dimension as the need for substantial investment for the efficient Connecting of Europe and North Africa through various transport modes should be much further promoted.

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