The European Commission (EC) proposal for the Multi Annual Financial Framework 2021-2027 adopted on Wednesday 2 May reserves a similar budget for the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), the financial instrument for Transport, in the current financial period.
The proposal foresees 12,8 billion EUR under the general envelope, 11,3 billion EUR for transport projects in Cohesion countries and a new envelope of 6,5 billion EUR for investments in transport infrastructure for dual civilian-military use.
For European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO), the allocation within the MFF proposal clearly shows the support of CEF as a financial instrument and proves that the Commission, and in particular the Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger, is recognising the high added value of transport investments in terms of growth, jobs and sustainability.
"We certainly welcome the Commission proposal, but we know that there is still a long way to go. Both the Parliament and Council will have to support this proposal, we cannot allow further cuts. We must now convince the Members of the European Parliament (MEP) and the Member States that the CEF Transport budget is serving all sectors and all policies, not only the transport sector as such. We should also convey the message that this budget serves to realise the TEN-T network, an already well identified plan with concrete priorities,” says Isabelle Ryckbost, ESPO’s Secretary General.
While the MFF budget proposal is received positively, European ports believe a lot will nevertheless depend on the concrete layout of the new Connecting Europe Facility proposal due to come out on 6th June. It also remains to be seen how the new military component, which receives a substantial part of the CEF transport budget, will serve the actual investment needs of ports.
“If Europe wants
to achieve a fully-fledged and operational TEN-T network, more attention must be given to ports. European ports play an increasingly important role in the transport chain and for the European economy, as they have developed into important nodes of energy
, industry and blue economy in addition to their traditional maritime transport role. They can also play an important role in the decarbonisation of the European economy. It is time for Europe to recognise the strategic role of ports and to support their investments accordingly,” adds Isabelle Ryckbost.
A study, commissioned by the European Sea Ports Organisation investigating the future investment needs of European ports, estimates that European ports face investment needs of around 48 € billion for the period 2018-2027. It also shows that port authorities have only been able to obtain 4 percent of the grant envelope over the last four years.
ESPO is looking forward to discuss the European budget and the forthcoming CEF proposal with the responsible DG MOVE Director Herald Ruijters, the European Parliament and the TEN-T Coordinators at its upcoming Conference in Rotterdam, on 31 May and 1 June.